Life experiences (especially early ones) inspire the musician’s music and the entrepreneur’s business. John Lennon used song-writing as an escape from a troubled childhood. Richard Branson started a school newspaper when he got frustrated by rigid school rules and regulations.
Success for both musicians and startups come after a lot of hard work and learning from experience. The Beatles had played together more than 1200 times before they got noticed in 1964. Bill Gates had done 10,000 hours of programming by the age of 13.
Performing cover songs help bands launch careers but they need to deliver originals to sustain their success. Red Hot Chilli Peppers may have gotten attention through their cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” but it is their unique style of funk infused rock that gained them a large following. Similarly, startups can be inspired by existing companies but need to do something very different to deliver more value and be successful. Facebook may have started off as a Friendster clone but scaled better and innovated to become the premier online social network even as Friendster closed shop.
The musician’s first song and the startup’s first product release is always sketchy. You can’t be perfect the first time.
Both music and technology products are a result of teamwork. The band doesn’t take off till the right set of musicians come together. Indian Ocean started off with two people and saw several shake-ups till it got to the line-up that delivered success. Apple‘s early success was a result of teamwork – Steve Jobs’ marketing skills and Steve Wozniak’s engineering prowess.
Most musicians start with free gigs and startups with free products/services.
Musicians and startups make it big by persisting and continuing to do what they love and believe in. Susan Boyle made it big with Britain’s Got Talent, at age 48. Tim Westergren went through years of struggle before Pandora become the much-loved music service that it is today.