I love the holidays.
(A short disclaimer: I'm a Christian, so I celebrate Christmas. To those whom I know are Christians, I always wish a hearty Merry Christmas. To my Jewish friends, I give a Happy Hanukkah. To those for whom their faith is unknown to me, I offer a hearty (but just as genuine) Happy Holidays. I don't understand those for whom this becomes such a huge issue. I've traveled a lot, met a whole lot of people, lived in different places and cultures, worked with those of many ethnicities, nationalities and faiths. Meeting people where they are is something that comes pretty naturally to me. But, that is a different post for a different day.)
One reason I love the holidays is the music. Holiday music (including Christmas carols and songs) is its own genre. There are jazz, country, pop, hip-hop, rap and classical versions of almost every holiday song one can name. But that's secondary to the genre of the holiday song. I wait until after Thanksgiving, and then I listen to almost nothing but holiday music for a solid month. It's one of my guilty pleasures.
It's pretty obvious that if, as an artist, you can either write or perform a holiday song that becomes popular, you can expect a pretty good royalty check (as royalties go these days) around the first week of February. So everyone - everyone - seems to have a holiday offering.
Even so, there is always what I believe to be the definitive version of every song. It's the version that, if one names the title, I think of first. At one time, White Christmas was the most recorded song of all time. But no matter how many hundreds or thousands of artists record White Christmas, Bing Crosby's version is the definitive one for me.
There are others. Gene Autry's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Dean Martin's Let it Snow, Andy Williams' It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas is You, Bruce Springsteen's Santa Claus is Coming to Town and of course, Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song. The list could go on. All are, to me, the definitive versions of those songs.
What's my point? It's this: is there anything you do in your business that the industry would say, if you want X, you need to talk to ThisCompany. They define that product/service. If not, what should you be doing differently?
In The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, a book I still consider to be one of the greatest marketing books ever written, Jack Ries and Al Trout offer these as the first two rules:
- It is better to be first than to be better.
- If you cannot be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.
I've read articles proposing Ries and Trout's rules to be out of date. I'm not one of them. There is proof everywhere these rules (and the other 20) still apply.
Look at the songs again. Bing Crosby was the first person to record White Christmas. Rule 1, check. Springsteen was far from the first to record Santa Claus is Coming to Town. But he made it a rock song which had not been done before. Rule 2, check.
Even during the holiday season, it's good to do a gut check of what you're producing and how you might do it better.
You know, become your own definitive version.