He takes the stage clad in a black turtleneck. his famous line is, “Green is the new red, white, and blue.” Tonight, and other nights, he is paid tens of thousands of dollars to perform. He spent a year touring America, adding China for good measure. When he returns home, he lands in an 11,400-square-foot house.
He’s not a rock star, although his life resembles that of one. He is Thomas Friedman, author, newspaperman, star commenter. His ascent is part and parcel of a period in which newspapers may train even their lowliest reporters for media appearances. Journalists these days grin under pancake make-up, speak in emphatic and punchy sentences, and videotape themselves for YouTube. In short, they sometimes succeed when they tear a page from performers’ scripts.
It got me thinking: Could one ailing media industry—music—teach another ailing media industry—journalism—a thing or two about survival?
I think the most resourceful strategies of musicians can help us. The first thing that writers might copy from musicians—even more than they do already—could be called the Free Culture Method.