Thursday, June 30 2022

On New Year’s Day 1962, two bands auditioned for Decca Records in London. The company was looking for a new act that would appeal to younger people. After hearing both bands, the executives settled on Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, a 1960s beat band whose later hits would include a cover of “Twist and Shout”.

Explaining their decision to the other band’s manager, Brian Epstein, record executives felt that “guitar bands were on the verge of extinction”.

As Epstein continued to seek a label for his Liverpudlian quartet, the band members – John, Paul, George and Ringo – were themselves discouraged and on the verge of calling it quits.

Now, 60 years later, the story of the Beatles’ New Year’s rejection holds timely lessons for us, even in the face of a pandemic.

Lesson 1: Resilience

The Beatles aren’t the only pop culture figures to have bounced back dramatically from failure.

Best-selling author of the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling was rejected by 12 publishing houses before Bloomsbury got her manuscript back. Oprah Winfrey, whose famous interviewees have included singer Michael Jackson and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, has already been fired from her job as an evening reporter. She was deemed “unfit for television news” for her inability to emotionally detach from stories. And Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg, who recently reimagined the hit musical “West Side Story,” was rejected three times by the University of Southern California’s School of Theatre, Film and Television.

All of them, however, had a particular trait: resilience.

“I believe those who play, write and entertain are some of the most resilient people in the world. Think about writers – they get so much rejection before their work gets published. Think of actors who try on several roles before landing one. Any artist who has worked together for 10, 20, 30 years is already resilient. Those who are starting their artistic careers may not be. However, they are probably also very attuned to new artistic mediums – YouTube, Internet, Instagram, etc. They make it work,” Shantha Mohan, a mentor and project guide at Carnegie Mellon University’s Silicon Valley campus, told DW.

While artists may have had to step aside to lick their wounds after an audition took place in the south before COVID, the pandemic and its repeated lockdowns now require more courage than ever.

“Almost all artists have turned to the internet to keep their art alive and stay relevant during isolation. Many of them collaborate. For example, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber created a ‘Stuck With U’ music video together that supports the First Responders Children’s Foundation,” says Mohan, who also co-founded Retail Solutions Inc. (RSi), a leader in data analytics. retail data.

Lesson 2: Innovation

In the anthology “The Beatles: an oral history” by David Pritchard and Alan Lysaght, Paul McCartney states: “Listening to the tapes, I can understand why we failed the Decca audition. We weren’t very good, although there were some pretty interesting and original things. Regardless, “The Beatles took the setback as a learning experience and didn’t give up. The failure pushed them to keep innovating,” explains Shantha Mohan, herself a Beatles fan.

She points out how the band had dealt with rejections before the Decca episode, while continuing to hone their skills, sometimes playing back-to-back gigs in various locations, including Hamburg, Germany, in 1960.

“It taught them to develop the humility, the tenacity, the understanding of their audience, the flair – which doesn’t remember vigorous head shaking – that appeals to audiences,” says Mohan whose book “Leadership Lessons with The Beatles” is scheduled for release in May 2022.

Fast forward to today, and Swedish pop icons ABBA have kicked into high gear. The group, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year, will begin a different world tour in May 2022.

The singers will project digital avatars – or “Abba-tars” – of themselves on stage instead of performing live, thanks to technology provided by Industrial Light and Magic – the visual effects company founded by the creator from Star Wars, George Lucas.

A clever solution for entertaining while being socially distanced.

“ABBA is a great example of how innovative artists are today. They have embraced cutting-edge technology to empower them to reach today’s tech-savvy audience. ABBA Voyage, where they will appear digitally as they were in 1977, has been in the works since 2016,” says Mohan, stressing that resilience and innovation “go hand in hand.”

Lesson 3: Hope

And finally, in light of an ever-changing virus that has resulted in new restrictions and closures, Mohan says that as individuals, we must remain hopeful. And one way to maintain our own hope is to be of service whenever we can.

Referring to the Decca episode, Mohan says the Beatles, for example, had their manager Epstein by their side and that gave them hope to carry on. “You can also feed on each other’s hopes,” she says.

Mohan is particularly inspired by the work of Jose Andres, the Spanish-American chef, restaurateur and founder of World Central Kitchen, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing meals in the aftermath of natural disasters. Currently, the organization is also providing meals to people affected by the pandemic.

“We have to believe it’s temporary and keep moving forward. Let us make ourselves useful in all that we can do, if we are able. Helping others is a way of giving us hope that this too will pass,” she concludes.

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