Wednesday, December 31, 2008

GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY: excerpt from The Big Moo, by Seth Godin

Shaun Considine rescued the greatest song in the history of rock and roll—from the trash.

In 1965, the VP of sales and marketing at Columbia Records took a look at Bob Dylan’s new song, “Like a Rolling Stone.” He didn’t listen to it—he just looked at it and decided it was way too long to be released as a single. It would never get radio airplay and wouldn’t sell, he said. Dylan refused to compromise the length. So, astonishingly, the master (one second short of six minutes in length) was thrown into the trash.

Shaun was working at Columbia at the time, as the coordinator of new releases. Shaun found the record — a studio-cut acetate — wrapped it up, took it home, and listened to it over the weekend.

As it happened, Shaun was part owner of a hot New York City club at the time, called Arthur, on East Fifty-fourth Street. This club was so hot that Dylan himself had been turned away (he showed up in “wine-stained, beer-splattered Army-Navy store couture”).

Shaun slipped his copy of the song to the DJ, and the place went nuts, including two influential people who happened to be in the audience—a DJ from WABC and a programmer from WMCA, two of the most important stations in New York.

The two radio guys rang up Columbia and demanded copies of the song. Columbia complied — they even shipped it in red plastic to flag it as a hot record. Despite the conservative fears of the marketing department, the record was a hit.

If it weren’t for Shaun, Rolling Stone magazine would never even have heard the song, and certainly wouldn’t have chosen it as the number-one rock-and-roll song of all time.

Maybe you don’t own a rock club. Maybe you don’t know Bob Dylan. But you’ve still got as much power as Shaun Considine.

What’s in the trash that needs to see the light of day, needs to be run by a customer, or tried out on a playground?

(Listen to the song “Like A Rolling Stone” in a whole new light…click here)

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