I’m currently a little too obsessed with the musician/DJ Skrillex, as he’s known (real name Sonny Moore). He’s become the “from out of nowhere” face of a movement. Interestingly, he’s not the face of dubstep itself, exactly, but instead, I’d offer that he’s the face of “the mainstream’s introduction to dubstep.” The distinction is huge. ( If you want even more on dubstep, Spin produced this primer.)
It also means that Sonny Moore has a lot in common with Tony Robbins, Run DMC, Banksy, and Sir Richard Branson. And, quite interestingly, there’s also something underneath their similarities that has me realizing that this, too, is part of the building your platform series.
The Connection Will Carry You
In this Guardian piece, they ask, “Is Skrillex the most hated man in dubstep?” The paragraph that caught my attention and framed why I think Skrillex is onto something was this one, by Joe Muggs:
There doesn’t seem to be a material goal, just a desire â€“ naive, maybe, or even old-fashioned â€“ to be part of music scenes and to connect with crowds. “I don’t even try to make ‘dubstep’,” he says, lifting his hands to make air-quotes. “It’s just another tempo and rhythm that I work in, because it makes people go wild.” This might sound like a line from Spinal Tap, but his sincerity is endearing.
Platform key #1: he’s working for the people.
There’s this criticism of art that says the moment you care what someone thinks, it’s no longer art. Though I understand the sentiment, I have a different take. It’s a post for another time, but suffice to say that Sonny Moore is successful because he works strictly for the frothing sea of people reacting to his songs. If you have a few minutes, watch this little 3 minute snip of video from his work with members of the band, The Doors (yes, THAT band!), and WATCH THE CROWD.
Can’t see the video? CLICK HERE
Hate? Who Can See It?
The article I read talks about how there is quite an upswell of haters. Most of them seem angry that Skrillex is now the icon of their movement, and that he’s not underground enough, not experimental enough, not from the right roots, whatever. Every single variation is a jealous rant that Sonny Moore isn’t as qualified to represent the movement and that he shouldn’t be so successful and popular. Again, Joe Muggs:
Moore, however, doesn’t see it that way. “I never really even hear these views, mainly because I don’t have much time for the internet,” he says. “I go to shows and all I see is love. I didn’t even know people had an issue until someone said: ‘Oh, this and that forum seem to have a real problem with you.'”
Tony Robbins receives those criticisms from the NLP crowd. Run DMC had its share of haters for being too mainstream. Street artist Banksy gets hate for being too commercial these days. Even Sir Richard Branson has a bevy of critics who feel he gives business a bad name.
Interview where Sonny Moore talks about Haters
Can’t see the video? CLICK HERE
None of Them Have Time for Hate
Here’s why: because the connection will carry you. The connection to your community is what each of these people used as a main gauge. Yes, in most cases (maybe not Banksy) there are business goals and financial motivations as well, but that’s not what you hear any of these platform builders talking about. They live and breathe for making their community happy. They live for the crowd. But, as I said with my post about Adele, the other special trick is that they strive to keep the connection to individuals as often as possible, instead of addressing the faceless masses as “you guys.”
This is a powerful way to think about platform and to think about how you gauge your own success, no matter what the ultimate goal of your efforts may be. This isn’t for everyone, platform building. But as Julien Smith and I are learning through talking with people while writing our new book, a platform is what separates a really smart person with amazing ideas and hard work from someone you’ve actually heard of and consider successful.
Good on you, Skrillex. I’m a fan.
One Last Thing
Plenty of people like or hate something without trying it, and/or trying to understand it. I’m starting to learn about electronic music as part of my work with Jacqueline Carly for a new music project she’s starting. This is my first attempt at something more digital than analog. It’s a lot harder than it seems. So, before one trashes anything (a music style, a method of doing business, whatever), it would be so cool if one tried it a bit first. Don’t you think?
Here’s my silly little song. It made for a great learning experience.