What shuffling through iTunes taught me about business

On a recent flight to Minneapolis, I got the chance to listen to a lot of great music. As it would happen, iTunes did a nice job shuffling through my songs, picking a bunch that I hadn’t heard it a while. Probably no coincidence that many were by Rush, as they represent the largest collection of songs by any artist in my library.

And here is what I noticed. As I listened carefully to these songs, especially some of the Rush songs, I noticed a distinct progression happening… A journey that Rush ITunesthe artist takes you on from the beginning of the song to the end, adding layers and textures, building intensity, telling a story, subtly changing rhythms and melodies to propel us forward to the next verse, chorus, bridge or solo.

It was the first time in a while that I really listened to music as an event, rather than using it a way to fill the air with sound.

And it was great.

And then it hit me. This is what an ideal consumer experience should be like, too.

Think about it… If someone walks through the doors of a store or talks to someone on the phone before their visit, that’s like the intro of a song – setting the tone for the experience.  As they go through the store, they may experience repeating patterns that become familiar, such as brand or promotional messaging – much like a familiar and repeatable chorus of a popular song.

They also get to see, touch and smell different items that continually pique their interest, inviting them to try more. This would equate musically to changes in key or melody, time signature and tempo.

If done correctly, the end result is a very satisfying experience where both the listener and the consumer feels they have been on a wonderful journey that they want to repeat.

Now, I will say that not every song I listened to took me on this journey. Some had a good hook or a great beat, but didn’t quite bring it all together… for me. And that’s okay.

So how does your business compare to this musical metaphor?  Are you set up to maximize transaction efficiency while failing to tell a story, your story, that ultimately draws your customer in and makes them part of the journey?

If so, how could you change that?  When was the last time you truly experienced your business as your consumer does?  It sounds simple, but seeing things from their vantage point can uncover incredible opportunities.

This concept also applies to the employee experience. They start off not knowing much about your organization, but ultimately they will be the ones “telling” your story to your guests. How can you create a welcoming environment, intrigue them with new information and skills, and engage them in your brand so they will WANT to share your story?

If you could do this, both with your guests and employees, wouldn’t that be music to your (and their) ears?

Thanks for reading!


In case you are interested, the song that most inspired this post was “Manhattan Project” by Rush.  Below is a video of just the lyrics, but I challenge you to close your eyes, put on some headphones and just listen. (If you are reading this in an email, click here to view the video.)

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