Second post on Bondi Wave: Mark Pope, producer of Aria Awards.

  The second speaker at the Bondi Wave was Mark Pope, producer for the Aria Awards. Though his speciality was event management, he offered up pearls of wisdom for all walks of life when embarking on a project. He admitted some were taken from the chapter headings of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People without actually reading the content, but they were things he experienced.

First one: “Begin with an end in mind”

Visualise the outcome and details and work towards that. Draw up a road map in other words. Obviously important for organising an event, but also useful for people like me perhaps in visualising the outcome of a song or a creative project. I guess it’s an essential for film-makers…

The next one, which I think is especially important in the arts and music industry: “Dare to dream and let reality creep back in.” If you have a go at something and fail, just dust yourself off and keep trying. It’s important to have high goals to shoot for something, rather than placing limitations on yourself because you have no vision. Or I guess another way of looking at it: you can dream, shoot for it, probably fail yet possibly succeed, but if you don’t dream at all then there’s no probability of success at all.

Furthermore, he added an important point: “entertainment + predictability = death”. Something to keep in mind as a songwriter. Well it’s something I strive for anyway, to come up with something new and different, that doesn’t sound like it’s been done a thousand times before.

Some say that’s impossible for songwriting in the Web2.0 age where it seems like every melody and harmonic progression has been to death, especially in pop music where people fall back on what’s safe. Me? I’m tired of listening to re-hashed pop/rock but I still think there are some artists and bands out there who are both inspired and original -some more indie than others. But you have to search. That’s partly why I’m searching the Asian indie scene -China, Taiwan, Japan… because the songwriters have different sources to draw upon (Wubai drawing on Enka and Asian 70’s protest rock for example).

Originality is harder in this day and age, but still worth pursuing. That’s the challenge. Take away the challenge, what do you have? Clever marketing and pop/rock-blandness. That’s worth ignoring.

But I’ve digressed. Other words of advice by Mark Pope: “Never Assume”. That’s got to be universal -and especially for event management where thorough communication is essential. Avoid the “I-thought-you-were-taking-care-of-it” syndrome. Make sure you keep in communication with all involved, and clarify details.

Another great one: “Bring the problems to the front”. Because if you don’t, they’ll all turned up when you least want them to, and then crisis management and the blame-game come into play.

These last two I suppose become more important as the project or endeavour becomes bigger and more involved.

The next one is more about being professional socially: “Seek first to understand before seeking to be understood.” It’s a great tip for the music industry which involves a lot of social contact. With this attitude you can win respect and get people emotionally engaged and invested in your work especially when asking for their advice.

In a similar vein: “It’s about it, not about you.” Don’t let your ego get in the way. Be grateful to do the work you’re doing and value the people you’re working with. Both points are hard to live by though when you’re so focused on your own project/music/dream/performance and you’ve invested so much into it. But then, you have to recognise other people have too. If you’re self-consumed, it will be a turn off for others. If you’re interested in others it builds relationships.

And the last two are more about encouragement and inspiration: “Keep shaping the day” and “Keep falling forward” -don’t get hung up on mistakes -learn and move on, and keep the dream.

I’ll discuss the talks from Bob Aird (publishing) and Andy Kelly (Indie label) next. (Later I’ll discuss Australian Internet Radio to clarify end of last post). Peace out and spread the love.


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