In 1971 The Beatles’ John Lennon said, “Every f***ing thing we did, Mick [Jagger] does exactly the same—he imitates us.”
For Lennon, Mick Jagger’s The Rolling Stones weren’t innovators much as they were followers.
However, both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones developed unique techniques and strategies that allowed them to produce innovative, groundbreaking work.
The question is: as an entrepreneur or leader which band do you relate to more? Which approaches to work and creativity do you embrace?
In this two part series (PART II is here!) we will explore how each band innovated. It’s up to you to decide who you emulate more. First off, The Beatles:
5 Innovation Strategies of The Beatles:
1. Borrow different styles:
Great artists steal goes the phase and The Beatles were good at just that. They were able to take elements form Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, and numerous other acts and make something completely fresh. They could digest trends and translate them into their own unique sound. The Beatles were so reckless with their “borrowing” that they were successfully sued by Chuck Berry because their famous song “Come Together” not only used the same chords, but took the same lyrics as Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me.”
Innovation is often the result of putting together different ideas and influences and The Beatles excelled at doing just that.
2. Use interesting tools
The Beatles began as a conventional rock band, but they soon branched out and began to incorporate unorthodox instruments into their music. They experimented with the sitar and a string quartet.
The Beatles were persistently trying to find new sounds that made their recordings novel and rewarding.
3. Embrace technology
Paul McCartney said of the Beatles studio process: “We would say, ‘Try it. Just try it for us. If it sounds crappy, OK, we’ll lose it. But it might just sound good.’ We were always pushing ahead: louder, further, longer, more, different.”
The Beatles played in the studio and as a result they used samples and experimented with double tracking techniques in their music. They also helped pioneer the use of music videos and were one of the first bands to perform in a live television broadcast. They weren’t afraid of new technologies and used them to make better music and attract more fans.
Paul McCartney said, “As usual, for these co-written things, John [Lennon] often had just the first verse, which was always enough: it was the direction, it was the signpost and it was the inspiration for the whole song. I hate the word but it was the template.”
The Beatles were able to collaborate and give each other frames by which to work within. They were able to give each other tasks and were able to work with each other toward a common goal.
Innovation can be spurred by teamwork and by setting frames and templates to work within.
5. Prolific output
Until their split The Beatles usually made two albums a year. Their remarkable ability to create a large songbook helped hone their talents and forced them to become more innovative.
The Beatles innovated because they continually pushed themselves to create new, interesting work. They weren’t content doing the bare minimum.