Pascal Derrien

5 years ago · 5 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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For Those About To Start Up (We Salute You)

For Those About To Start Up (We Salute You)

The title of this article rings a bell especially if you like your rock hard and bluesy around the edges. It is obviously very largely inspired by The Band from down under. So what that got to do with start-ups will you tell me? Hang on a minute will you? Rock bands and start-ups have probably far more in common than meets the eyes for starter creativity, crafting masterpieces and products out of nothing, novelty and productivity, supply and customer demand and finally disruption.

So I suppose that this start up concept is not that new after all and all the hype around the new scene of technology messiahs is not that breakthrough in its core principle. So is it bad news for the aspirant technology gurus who would like to make us believe innovation was born with their generation? No I don’t think so there is a lot of goodness in the start-up scene however a more balanced attitude and less posing would be welcomed sometimes…. the Web Summit is not Woodstock.

In the 60`s two new bands from the UK injected far more disruption in our society than any god-chosen or angel backed start up, one was named the Beatles originally from Liverpool and the other one was called the Rolling Stones from Dartford in Kent, both in their respective ways completely revolutionized the music business and how today we consume the derivative artefacts produced by and for the music ecosystem. Both had a very different trajectory though while one of them did a lot of R&D the founders disbanded the project after 10 years or so and went on to build various solo careers spin offs with relative (un) success but always with the respect of the public, on the other hand the other one became the multinational we all know today, some say they should have called it a day a long time ago the reality being is that they are still on the market and there is obviously a demand for it.

In 1973 the Australian band we spoke about earlier was formed and funnily enough the father of the guitar lead told his son that he gave it a week!! 41 years later they are still here with the same level of integrity, the rest is history as they say but we will come back to those guys later on. In the same decade around 1977 punk exploded and this was a sheer revolution in its own right, this came out of nowhere. In a sense the punk scene was scarily not that dissimilar from today’s start-ups scene, they too had their own codes and rules of engagement, they had their own icons and they too had thousands of worshippers fascinated by the contrast they offered against the (business) establishment.

In today’s terms Dublin, London, Paris or Silicon Valley would see the emergence of 100 of bands, they would be mushrooming near any garage or basement able to shelter a wall of sounds, a deafening experience at best as it was very honestly often out of tune for the most cases. That’s said almost as a reminiscence of those days, today’s technology scene is going thru the same pattern with a staggering apps birth rate per second that almost no standard brain is capable of processing providing the sheer volume who is on offer.

Actually 99 % of the apps currently adopted by the market are abandoned within a month, it was the same for Punk Rock most of the bands were not good enough to go anywhere and if sometimes they were very few had the discipline to survive the demand and rigor of the music industry. Fair to say that independently of the profits not made the impact they had was huge, in a sense they indirectly helped shaping generations of free spirit entrepreneurs, what if the Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was the ultimate Sid Vicious of his time.

In the 80s I started tape trading. (What the heck is that?) In a nutshell if you are not familiar with the concept, it was exchanging non-signed bands demos from around the world through a network of fanzines and likeminded individuals. With no marketing structure, budget or any form of financial support this was how bands built up their followership before the hypothetical big breakthrough, remember Nirvana anybody? But not only bands benefited from the experience, labels were set up, magazines were born and a lot of creativity was being shared, for me personally it meant than while I could not play a single instrument I could start writing articles and make interviews about very obscure bands for independently distributed fanzines.

I guess I was learning my craft and one thing leading to another I ended managing my first band @ seventeen and a half. Mekhanix was the name of the band a 5 piece trash metal combo, it lasted a bit more than a year and boy it did teach me a lot about the difficulty to organize and run people, way too much HR, Finance and Marketing to my liking and as a young lad I got very overwhelmed by the whole thing, fair to say I struggled to keep it together however I am proud we opportunistically ended up supporting San Francisco Bay Area bands Forbidden & Sacred Reich, they had respectively recorded one or two albums at that time and were in a very different league from us altogether, the show was an experience never to be forgotten ,this gave us a taste of what it could be but this was also a stress test which turned out to be our ultimate claim to fame, our very own swan song if you want, the band`s adventure ended shortly after that adrenalin peak.

A few years later in the 90s I got back to band management but this time I was a bit more mature and was more confident on the potential success of the enterprise, assembled around a very talented song writer who was also lead vocal and lead guitar, we managed to get him surrounded by very sharp studio sessions musicians in fact the quartet was a very strong and professional engine. We also had a solid fan base who was mad in love with the original pop-rock rhythm alongside spiritual lyrics delivered by the band, I dare saying some billboard bands would envy the quality of the material even today, we used crowdfunding to fund a 4 track CD and ultimately we ended up in serious talks with Major Record Companies but it did not materialize for various reasons

The black swan theory knocked at my door again and with hindsight I remember this as being part of a larger than life experience, we were part of something special part of a scene full of young ambitious bands on the hard path of music business we all shared the same mind-set of entrepreneurship, we did not have on line forums so networking and ideas exchange would take place in rehearsals studios. The group disbanded due to external pressure and shortly after I decided to move to Ireland that was the end of it then. I think I brought the band as far as I could and maybe somebody else should have taken the relay and take it to the next level, it never happened.

I told you earlier we would go back to our favourite Australians, Start Up Mag * recently meet Angus Young Chief Riff Officer @ AC/DC Inc for an interview** and asked him what type of advice would he give to any young entrepreneurs, this is what he said.`` I think you need to have a lot of energy and being a high voltage individual is a prerequisite, but be careful this is ain`t gonna be easy this is going to shake your foundationsyou will have to stand up or you will be shot down in flames, at times it may seem you will be on a highway to hell but remember there is no turning back you have to Rock or Bust, be resilient it is a long way to the top !!!

Thanks Angus I think you are teaching us a very valuable lesson and should we not always be listening to those who have taken the very same steps long before us, there is so much value & wisdom our distinguished elderlies (don’t tell him I called him elderly right) can share. Is it not Confucius who said than nothing new happen really in the world it is just that the same things happen to a new generation of people.

Now if you are about to create your own company, start a venture or only have an idea about a potential product we know it does require a lot of energy and sacrifice, we understand that there will be a lot frustration, sometimes even discouragement maybe blood and sweat, ultimately there will be tears of joy or sorrow depending on the outcome. If not for any other reasons we should have the utmost respect for what you about to start.

No matter what will your achievements be, success or failure it does not matter, from the spectatorship river banks

``We Salute YOU``


* This is a fictional magazine obviously …

** This is a fake interview too I have never spoken to Angus but feel free to introduce me…..

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Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #9

could not agree more :-)

Harvey Lloyd

4 years ago #8

Great tribute to those who step out of reality and venture into the unknown. I salute with you. The experience alone is worth more than a PHD. Crashed and burned on a few while getting my education from the school of hard knocks. Looking back i wouldn't trade that education for any other.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #7

indeed I remember very well 4 tracks demo from them flying around before they were even signed up by any label now it went faster for them more than any other band thanks to the momentum gained in the tape trading community and articles in Underground fanzines :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #6

#7 #8 that was in my vault wrote that one a while back :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #5

:-) something I wrote a while back

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #4

absolutely Ken you need to let the rock roll towards its destinity :-)

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #3

thank u for sharing :-)

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #2

Pascal Derrien has woven a spell with his tale of Beatles, Stones and the inimitable AC/DC, A must read for hopeless old time muses.

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #1

Pascal, great post, mate! Given the statistics against start-ups being successful, begs the question that every entrepreneur must ask eventually, are we on a 'Stairway to Heaven' or a 'Highway to Hell'? But once committed its 'Rock or Bust'. And then, if things start going down the gurgler, 'Hell ain't a bad place to be'. 😈

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