Stop Whining!

May 16, 2011

I had one of those Twitter moments the other day.  In just a matter of a few seconds, I ended up getting juxtaposing tweets.  And it inspired me to write this post about how we approach the challenges that lie ahead.

Jack White In this corner, it’s Jack White, Detroiter, rock star, and a guy who has displayed a great deal of energy as he has innovated from the White Stripes to producing country legends like Loretta Lynn.

This quote appeared in Jack Isquith’s “Digital Music Insider” (from an interview on and it’s an amazing admission from an artist about the role of digital and his craft:

Jack White quote 
Seth Godin There’s no question that the music industry has been roiled by digital downloads, Internet radio, subscription music sites, declining CD sales, and other tsunami-like developments over the years.

And in this corner, it’s Seth Godin, author, media pundit, philosopher, and self-publisher, talking about the same topic – technological change and how we deal with it – as industries, companies, artists, and individuals from a recent blog post:

Seth Godin quote

I have all the respect in the world for Jack White and the thousands of musicians struggling to figure it out in this fast-paced digital maelstrom.  But like the rest of us who grew up in legacy industries, change either ushers in resignation and whining or it brings about innovation and energy.  You either regroup, reassess your strengths and weaknesses, and figure it out – or you whine, gripe, and wring your hands.  We'll take the former any day. 

This is why Seth Godin is so well-read and admired, and why we at Jacobs Media quote him often

Sometimes it’s not fair.  But is what it is.

There’s no future in whining.


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8 Responses to Stop Whining!

  1. JJ Duling on May 16, 2011 at 7:39 AM

    Of course technology didn’t create this “giant mess”. The REACTION (or, lack thereof) to the technology is where the problem has been.
    Trite as it may sound, we all have the choice whether to be part of the problem or part of the solution.
    I’m with Seth on this one.

  2. Fred on May 16, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    Thanks, J.J. Seth rocks & is a wonderful observer of what’s right in front of us but that we often don’t want to see. Appreciate you taking part in the conversation.

  3. Yumi Shintaro on May 16, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    I’d love to know what the impetus for Jack White’s tweet was. Didn’t earn enough royalties to pay the mortgage? Didn’t realize what a money pit starting his own record company would be? Never took that typing class in high school? Jackie needs to suck it up and get with the program, or get left behind.

  4. Fred on May 16, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Yumi, have to agree with you. There are many ways to make big bucks in the music industry, but it’s a different model than the one that worked for the White Stripes just a few short years ago. Thanks for commenting.

  5. John Ford on May 22, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    The funny thing is, that Jack White was “lucky” enough to affix himself to the end of the “old” business model. What is this “old model?” The model that an individual would actually be paid for their work and contribution to society! Let’s face it, it’s been 15 years since the philosophy of the long-tail and new model of the digital revolution. Where are these new successful artists/musicians? Who is making a mint (or even a living wage) selling teeshirts while giving their music away? But excuse me Seth, the digital Maoists keep telling us that happy days are right around the corner, yet the creative middle class continues its downward spiral to digital serfdom. In many ways I hate to say it, but, I’m with Jack White on this one. The kool-aid has lost its flavor. There is no long tail, just the giant head of Google creating an economy of advertising… in the words of a technophile that I personally respect much more than Goodi… Jarnon Lanier, “Funding a civilization through advertising is like trying to get nutrition by connecting a tube from one’s anus to one’s mouth.”

  6. Fred on May 22, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    John, there’s no question that the long tail does not equate to big bucks. The Internet has allowed some to get richer (LinkedIn’s CEO is happy this morning), while many other performers and media types have clearly been down-sized.
    Seth’s exhortations to accept reality & develop a digital strategy don’t promise riches. And in fact, you may be right – happy days may never be here again, based on 1980′s standards.
    But to whine and complain in the face of change is the easiest avenue toward extinction.
    Thanks for reading & contributing.

  7. John Ford on May 22, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Hey, you’re welcome. Always thought you and your brothers were some of the smartest guy’s in the room.
    Maybe Jack is “whining,” but that doesn’t mean that his statement isn’t without warrant. As opposed to Goodin’s: “It’s unpleasant, it’s unfair, but it’s all we’ve got… Whining isn’t a scalable solution.” To me that smacks of “resistance if futile, you will be assimilated.” or “don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is already made up.” Just because “it’s what we’ve got,” does not mean it’s the only/best/scalable solution.
    How did we end up with this solution? Following the first Internet bust, the only other obvious answer was to create a new paradigm of business using an adverting model for the interneterwebercloudytubes. The “winners” like Google aggregate the content of hard working folks and businesses including journalism, musicians, artists, “traditional” media add infinitude add nausea, whither on the vine to the point where “journalism becomes the most useless degree.” (pretty evil for a company who’s motto is “don’t be evil.”) Sure, a small number of folks win big, including the CEO of Linkedin, but the rest of us, in the long run loose.
    You’re right, we do need to quit whining and find a more workable and realistic solution so that journalists, musicians, photographers, writers, movie makers and the folks that create things (the first wave under the bus of the digital Maoists) can return to the outdated economic notion that an individual should be paid for their hard work.
    I empathize with Jack. We’ve created a “revolution” where “information ‘demands’ to be free.” Unfortunately, that “freedom” is creating serfdom while the collective believes that it’s perfectly reasonable to torrent to it’s hearts content. Maybe it’s micropayments or more government control of commerce on the Net (god forbid) or something we haven’t even thought of yet. But, this new paradigm shift is clearly not working.
    Thanks for listening to me whine.

  8. Fred on May 22, 2011 at 8:39 PM

    John, you’re not whining, and you raise valid concerns. This is why the New York Times has started their “paywall” payment system. It may not work, but the notion of “free” ultimately makes it difficult for quality content creators to continue to put out a great product. At some point, they cannot hire investigative reporters or foreign correspondents. And no one seems to have a solution to some of the problems you point out here.
    Thanks again for the kind words, and for reading & taking the time to participate.

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