This Week’s Focus: A while ago, I went to see Nick Lowe in concert. Best known for his song, Peace Love & Understanding, Lowe has a small but committed fan-base, and he continues to earn a decent living from royalties and gigging. His 90-minute set contained no cover songs whatsoever.

I also, very occasionally, play in a band – but we only play covers. Unsurprisingly, other than being offered free beer, we don’t get paid, and would struggle to make any kind of living.

The vast majority of covers bands are the same. Even the most committed groups need other jobs to supplement their earnings. Some groups and singers go one stage further and become ‘tribute’ acts, completely copying more famous bands, but the results are the same. Other than a handful of examples – The Bootleg Beatles, Bjorn Again and Australian Pink Floyd Show – most of these acts, unlike Nick Lowe, fail to earn a reasonable level of income.

What’s true in music is also true in business. The organisations that prosper and grow are those that innovate and play their own songs. Companies that seek to play covers and imitate their market leaders’ proposition are the also-rans, struggling to survive. You see it in markets as diverse as low-fare airlines, coffee shop chains and tablet computers.

What kind of organisation do you lead? Are you a breakthrough band, creating your own music, or are you a tribute band, that relies on playing cover versions of others’ songs?


Off The Record: Weather To Fly by Elbow

So, in looking to stray from the line

We decided, instead, we should pull out the thread

That was stitching us into this tapestry vile

And why wouldn’t you try? Perfect weather to fly!


© Stuart Cross 2017. All rights reserved.