11 Things I Learned About Product Development from Spinal Tap

When it comes to cult classics, few movies have created a legend on par with This Is Spinal Tap. This 1984, Rob Reiner mockumentary follows the fictitious band Spinal Tap from its humble roots through its meteoric rise to success and then back down to Earth. Along the way they contributed some of pop culture’s most famous and funniest moments, one-liners and memorable movie quotes.

What’s even more fascinating is that, as you break down the movie into discrete skits you can begin to attribute broader significance to the seemingly for-laughs-only ridiculousness of the band’s antics. In this article, I’ve taken 11 (naturally) key moments in the movie and applied them as lessons in product development. Here we go…

1. “It’s a trilogy really…”

In this scene, Nigel Tufnel (played by Christopher Guest) explains to Rob Reiner that he’s working on a new piece. Reiner remarks that it’s different than what the band normally plays as Tufnel goes on to explain that it’s not just one song but part of a trilogy. If there’s one thing that every maker learns eventually it’s that focus is key. Trying to take on too much from the outset often ends up in miserable failure. In this case, Nigel is set on creating a trilogy yet he’s barely written the beginnings of the first part. As you set out to build your next product, pare down your focus until you’re working on one thing. Make that one thing the best it can be before expanding it to take on broader responsibilities. Don’t write the trilogy before you’ve written the first song.

 

2. “It’s called ‘Lick My Love Pump’”

As the scene above progresses, Nigel tells Reiner the name of the trilogy – Lick My Love Pump. The name immediately gives a sense of what this musical masterpiece is going to be about if not drawing offense first from its target audience. As you build your product, pay special attention to the name. It may seem innocuous at first but the name of your product conveys expectations that you then have to meet with your product experience.

 

3. “…don’t even look at it…”

Nigel loves his guitars. One of them is so special that he instructs Reiner to not only avoid touching it but to avert his eyes from it. This is his shiny object. The thing that keeps him from focusing on his main goal to write this new trilogy and ensure the band’s ongoing success. As you build your product, you too will come across these shiny objects. They’ll tempt you and steal your attention if you let them. In the end though, they will not help you build that one great product. Indeed, take Nigel’s advice and “don’t even look at it” until you’ve nailed your primary goal.

 

4. Mini Stonehenge…


Spinal tap – Stonehenge by samithemenace

In this scene, the band attempts to create a life-size replica of Stone Henge on stage while little people dance around it. However, the specifications for the replica are misunderstood since they are written on a napkin by hand. The final product ends up being 12 inches tall instead of 12 feet tall making the little people appear to tower over Stonehenge as opposed to being overshadowed by it.

Communication is key in product development. Sometimes that communication takes the written form. In those cases, it is imperative to be crystal clear about the requirements of the product or service. More often, it is best to communicate face to face. Talk to your colleagues. Understand their needs and their vision. Help them achieve that by ensuring everyone on the team is clear on what’s required and what would make the product a success.

 

5. “…none more black…”

In this scene, the band sees it’s new album cover for the first time. They’re in awe of how black it is and declare it the epitome of black stating there is nothing on Earth that is “more black” than this album cover.

They were proud. They had a vision and they sweated the details. Do the same with your product. Often, it is those details that you work so hard to preserve that make the heart and personality of your product. Ensure at least some of them make it in.

 

6. “…miniature bread…”

As part of their catering the band receives small bread. They struggle mightily to make the bread fit the rest of the sandwich components only to lash out in frustration at the lack of sandwich part coordination. The bread clearly failed to meet their expectations and the needs of their activity.

Make sure you understand your audience and their needs. The product your make for them should fit in with the rest of their related activities. It shouldn’t force them to rethink the way they’ve always performed certain functions. If you design your product to seamlessly fit into existing workflows, it stands a much greater chance of success.

 

7. “…he just blew up…”

Spinal Tap struggled to maintain one person on the drums. Through various accidents, tragedies and unexplained phenomena each drummer in the band met an untimely end. This never phased the band as they transitioned from drummer to drummer.

Your team as well must be ready for personnel change. It is inevitable. People quit, find better jobs, get fired or simply move on. It’s a fact of life and one your team must be ready to recover from quickly. Keep knowledge repositories in a centralized, updatable location. Ensure no one person holds information in their head that could cause your venture to fail. Keep knowledge repositories current so new team members can get up to speed quickly.

 

8. “…I’m kind of like lukewarm water….”

With David St. Hubins and Nigel Tufnel as the most prominent members of the band, Derek Smalls had to figure out his role on the bass. In this clip he recognizes that not everyone can be the frontman in the group and that his role is to live somewhere between these two spotlight-seekers. What he also realizes is that this role is fluid and morphs from song to song as the band evolves. Sometimes he’s closer to the front, where in other situations he has to hang back and drive the groove.

You too need to recognize your role on the team and ensure you’re giving enough support to the current person who needs it the most. Sometimes, you’ll be that front person, but if you’re not ensure that you’re adjusting your role to support the rest of the team. This will require you to be aware of everything that’s happening and utilize various aspects of your skills as appropriate.

 

9. “..St. Hubins…the patron saint of quality footwear…”

David St. Hubins struggles to make his last name meaningful in this clip until he realizes he can just, essentially, say whatever he wants. And so he does attributing his last name to be the patron saint of quality footwear. While this may sound ridiculous what David has done in this scene is give his name a label that means something to his audience.

You need to do the same with your product. The product may, like David, not currently live up to the hype of the attributes you assign to it but it gives you an opportunity to test those aspirations with your target audience. If they like it, you now have clear targets to shoot for. If they don’t, you can adjust your marketing to convey a more meaningful message.

 

10. The review for “Shark Sandwich” was merely a two-word review which simply read “Shit Sandwich”.

The band’s record got panned by the press. They were crushed.

The reality is that you’ll always have your critics and naysayers. Take them for what they are – a sanity check and a source of criticism. Ensure you’re product is addressing the valid critiques and move on from there. Don’t spend too much wallowing in the sadness of bad reviews. There will always be some. Learn from them and move on.

 

11. “These go to 11.”

In what has become the most widely known and most classic scene in the movie, Nigel tells Rob Reiner that his amps go “one louder” by having dials that go to 11.  This, on its own in Nigel’s opinion, makes them a better band then the rest of the hard rock scene.

What Nigel is actually saying is that his passion for his music can’t be contained by an amp that goes to 10. He needs one more than that to be truly understood. This holds true for your passion for your work. Are you satisfied with going to 10? Or should you always be gunning for 11? The answer of course is that if you want your product to succeed, you should always be pushing for 11, spending the time and effort necessary to ensure your product’s success.

This Is Spinal Tap may seem dated to those watching it for the first time but, as it turns out, it was ahead of its time with its pearls of entrepreneurial wisdom.

[Jeff]

P.S. – I had a lot of fun with this post.

Posted in work ethic | 1 Comment

I have no idea what I’m doing

I don't know what I'm doing

The difference between successful teams and leaders and those less so boils down to humility. Specifically, it’s being humble enough to admit they don’t know the answer up front. That simple admission changes the dynamic of the team immediately. It levels the playing field by letting everyone else admit that they’re not confident in their assertions either. Without a single keystroke from an HR database administrator, job titles become far less meaningful. It opens up the team mindset to experimentation in an effort to figure out which direction best solves their business and customer needs.

Most importantly, it centers the team’s conversation around a more important question than, “What should we build?” Instead, the team starts to focus on this question: “How will we know if we’re right?” With that seemingly simple shift, the team is now discussing customers, their needs, behaviors and transactions with the business. They’re discussing what changes they’d like to see in customer behavior and they begin digging into the root causes for the current set of behaviors. The conversation morphs from one focused on output (features, functionality, colors, workflows, etc) to one of  outcomes the team has determined as success for the project. It is those outcomes that can then be used as filters for the feature conversation focusing the team around only those ideas that achieve their desired outcomes.

By declaring that we don’t know how to solve the problem up front we completely change the way the team operates. This is not something we’re trained nor incentivized to say. In fact, there are people on our teams in roles paid to “know the answer” to these business problems. This simple step therefore is not an easy one but it’s critical if the team is to truly become a collaborative structure capable of pushing the boundaries of the company’s current product development efforts.

[Jeff]

Posted in agile, enterprise, lean startup, Lean UX, Productivity, ROI, work ethic | 1 Comment

Quantity trumps quality (at first)

Ceramic pots

I found the following excerpt on Derek Siver’s blog. It’s from a book called Art and Fear:

The ceramics teacher announced he was dividing his class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio would begraded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right graded solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would weigh the work of the “quantity” group: 50 pounds of pots rated an A, 40 pounds a B, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an A.

Well, come grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity!

It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

This story perfectly articulates  one of the fundamental Lean UX principles: prioritize making over analysis. Instead of sitting around, debating ad nauseum which direction to go in, what features make sense, which colors perfectly reflect your brand values or which words will get your customers to convert, just make something. It won’t be perfect. It won’t work as well as you’d hoped at first but it will teach you something. You’ll get some feedback, some insight on how building your product can be better and you’ll do a better job the second time around.

Sitting around in meetings debating these things usually means one thing: you don’t have enough information to make those decisions. And guess what? That information is not going to magically appear the longer the meeting goes on. Instead, take a first stab. Make the call and give it a shot. Even if it fails thoroughly, you’ll still learn something.

How many pots will you make this week?

[Jeff]

Posted in agile, design, enterprise, lean startup, Lean UX, Productivity, Research, work ethic | 1 Comment

There is no such thing as UX strategy

The 800lb gorilla in the room

The 800lb gorilla in the room
(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

2013 saw a lot of discussion around the topic of UX Strategy. In fact, there was at least one conference on the topic and a string of articles. However, all of this activity around a topic doesn’t actually mean it exists.

The reality is that there is no such thing as UX strategy. There is only product strategy.

As a company that makes products, you can and need to have a strategy around your goals as a business and your product lines, as far down in detail as the strategy for each individual product you offer. When we work with clients on new product initiatives, the first thing we do is ask them to think about their holistic product strategy:

  • Who are you building the product for?
  • What problem are you solving for these people?
  • How will you solve it?
  • How will you attract initial users?
  • How will you retain users?
  • How will you make money?
  • Who are you competing against?
  • How is your product different/better than the competition?
  • How will your product look? Behave?

All of these questions need to be considered collectively as a company sets out in new directions. Of course, as any experienced UX professional can see, there are elements of user experience design throughout the answers for all of those questions.

However, to explicitly call out user experience strategy as its own thing falsely assumes that this is something that is not considered in the broader strategic picture. Now I know what you’re all getting ready to say — “that’s exactly why we need UX strategy to be called out and explicitly added to the discussion.”

I would argue a different point — a company has to believe that user experience is part of this broader recipe for success and include it as a continuous part of the product strategy conversation if ux strategy is going to be an influential force.

Design has gone mainstream. Every company wants to be the “Apple of…” something yet very few have taken the time to consider what it would mean to bring design and user experience to that level of quality, polish and internal influence. If the organization is not mature enough in its design thinking (lower case intentional) to invest the time and money required to bring ux design in as part of its holistic strategy, no amount of internal lobbying, seats at tables, new titles, job descriptions nor conferences will change that.

UX strategy is part of product strategy. It is not its own thing. Calling it out as such further isolates designers from their colleagues in “the business” and does nothing to actually drive the value of a holistic user experience into the org’s mainstream conversations. Instead, designers should work to inform a product strategy conversation that considers not only the UX but the business’ and product’s success factors as well.

[Jeff]

Posted in career path, Conferences, design, enterprise, Productivity, ux team, work ethic | 28 Comments

Democratize creativity

Power to the people!

Power to the people!

In the industrial-era model of managing a company creativity was reserved for the executive suite. Only leaders and managers were allowed to determine what the company was going to build and how to implement it. These decisions were then pushed down to the execution teams who took this direction and executed it to the letter. In a known domain with known constraints, market forces and consumer behavior this was a productive and efficient way to work.

In software there are too many unknowns. We have no idea how complex a project truly is until we begin it. We have no idea how the product will be used by our customers. In fact, we have no idea IF it will even be used at all. To dictate a fully thought-out solution from the executive suite to execution teams is a recipe for failure.

Instead, your company should strive to democratize creativity. Take advantage of all the talent available in your organization and task them with coming up with the solutions for your business’ problems. Build diverse cross-functional teams and ensure that the freedom to be creative is distributed evenly – not just to the designers. Let them be creative. Let them try solutions. Let them fail and learn. The products these autonomous, self-organizing, creative teams create will be far more successful and innovative then anything you could have dictated to them.

Posted in enterprise, lean startup, Lean UX, Productivity, work ethic | 2 Comments

Agile coaches, I am your friend

Friends!

Friends
(image courtesy of Shutterstock)

I spend a lot of time consulting with large organizations grappling with making Agile work as an engineering practice and then expanding it to include marketing, product management and eventually user experience and design. Often these companies have invested not only in training but in full-time coaches dedicated to making sure these new practices stick. In the overwhelming majority of cases, these coaches are very good at building in the rituals and policies necessary for improving the agility and predictability of the engineering organization only.

As any coach will tell you, having only one department work in an agile fashion  is far from ideal (this is what’s often called Agile Fall – a hybrid process where the up front design work is done in a traditional waterfall fashion and then handed off to engineering for scoping and prioritizing into iterations). With Lean UX gaining popularity as a solution for integrating design into the Agile process, we are often called in to help figure out how to get the whole team working the same way.

The first people we meet when we arrive are the on-site Agile coaches. Immediately, I can sense their concern. They aren’t difficult to ascertain:

  • How will this affect the rituals and rhythms I’ve been teaching the engineers?
  • What am I not doing that they feel there’s a need to bring in another teacher?
  • I don’t know anything about design. Will this new training make it obvious?
  • If I’ve not been coaching a holistic approach to agility, will this threaten my job?

I want to allay all of these concerns. I want to bring user experience and design into the Agile process in the most effective way. I want the groundwork you’ve laid as the on-site coach to take root and involve the entire team. Without that, the benefits of iterative design can never be achieved. I want the teams to not only deliver great software. I want them to deliver beautiful, usable software. I want to help expand the Agile values of collaboration and communication to the entire product team. In short, I want to help make you and your teams successful.

[Jeff]

Posted in agile, design, enterprise, Lean UX, Productivity, ux team | Leave a comment

Turn Left!

Turn Left!

Turn Left!
Drawn by my colleague Chandu Tennety

 

Change is hard and often scary. Change in the enterprise is even scarier because it involves changing the way people work, how they’re compensated and incentivized, how they manage (and are managed) and what determines success. Whenever I work with organizations undertaking a significant change — like becoming more agile or building in lean startup principles — I often liken it to a sharp left turn.

The thinking (at least in my head) goes something like this:

- The organization is going along, full speed, in the direction it has always gone, doing things the way they’ve always been done.

- At the helm, someone has made the decision to change the way things get done.

- This person announces this change to their subordinates and the rest of the company and in doing so, metaphorically, turns the steering wheel sharply to the left.

- Many of the employees are hearing about this change for the first time during this announcement and are caught off guard.

- Some brace themselves. Others adapt to the turn. Some go with the flow. And still others are not prepared, don’t want to accept the change and are slammed up against the car window (see the sketch above).

It’s these folks, the ones with their faces smooshed up against the window, that are going to resist change the most. Many of them will not go quietly or willingly and some will not go at all. As an organization, you should be prepared for this churn and the inevitable parting of ways that will come with some of your current staff. These may be people you like, who are deemed valuable or even indispensable* and that’s when, as an organization, you must double down on the transformation you’ve undertaken. In fact, if you’re not losing a few people, the change you’re seeking is likely not significant enough.

[Jeff]

*Regardless of how “indispensable” someone may seem in your organization (and I’ve certainly felt that way about former colleagues), remember this quote from Charles de Gaulle: 

“The graveyards are full of indispensable men.” 

P.S. – The killer sketch in this post was done by my Neo Columbus colleague Chandu Tennety.

Posted in agile, enterprise, lean startup, Lean UX, Productivity, work ethic | 5 Comments

Designers — an untapped pool of Agile leadership

Designers make great agile team leaders.

Designers make great agile team leaders.
(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

Implementing an agile product development process has many challenges. One that is not regularly addressed is who will lead each of the scrum teams. Many organizations default to the, seemingly obvious, answer of the scrum master. Often ill-defined (even with “certification”) this role is essentially the Agile version of the project manager. But Agile teams are supposed to be self-organizing, leaving traditional project managers without much to do. Given Agile’s software engineering roots, it is most common to see developers at the helm of these teams. However, there’s another pool of talent that’s gone largely untapped for these team leadership roles — designers.

Designers, like the Agile process, have worked iteratively since their inception. They work incrementally, building and refining experiences based on business and customer feedback. As they mature and lead organizations they’re tasked with building consensus both within the design discipline and with other departments. They bring a strong sense of empathy to the team often acting as the main customer advocate. Product strategy and scope creep can often be tempered when the debate is framed in the context of customer value. Designers do this well. They’ve developed a unique expertise in this, having spent years defending seemingly subjective design choices to stakeholders, clients, developers and executives.

Engaging customers in conversation about work in progress is one of the most valuable forms of feedback (remember “customer collaboration over contract negotiation” ?). This is the source of a team’s empathy for their customer. Designers have been involved in the research and usability testing process for many years. It’s familiar territory — and one that should be shared with the rest of the team.

Meeting facilitation is another skill top designers have. Designer-only brainstorming sessions are a common occurrence in many agencies as well as in-house design teams. Even within these “safe” confines many strong debates arise. Design leaders can engage their teams in activities that encourage divergent thinking following up with consensus-building convergent activities. These skills are invaluable when working with cross-functional Agile teams. The empathy designers have for the customer extends to their non-designer colleagues. Basic skills are transferred along with jargon leading to a cohesive team speaking the same language and viewing their product development challenges through the same lens.

Seek out the strong designers in your organization and put them in charge of your scrum teams. Their honed empathy, facilitation and customer advocacy skills will help focus your teams on the right problems to solve while iterating towards the best way to solve them.

[Jeff]

Posted in agile, career path, design, enterprise, Lean UX, Productivity, Uncategorized, ux team, work ethic | 6 Comments

The answer to the Agile-UX question

Designing the answer to agile and ux

Designing the answer to agile and ux
(image courtesy of Shutterstock)

Making user experience and design work in an Agile environment is one of the biggest challenges facing product development teams today. Lean UX is the most effective way to design a process to solve this challenge. However, there is an even more fundamental and critical transformation your organization has to make in order to facilitate the adoption of Lean UX and solve the Agile/UX question.

Your organization has to value design. 

Adopting Lean UX and ultimately integrating design and agility in your product development process is expensive. It will force changes in team structure, incentives, hiring plans, feature choices, team dynamics, prioritization and many other facets. All of these changes cost something – time, money, morale, political capital, etc. If your organization doesn’t see value in design as the differentiation in your product’s success, it will be very hesitant to pay these costs.

If you’re struggling to make Agile and UX work in your company, ask yourself how willing your colleagues and supervisors are to pay the costs of making this marriage work. If the answer is “not very likely” then your organization doesn’t value design and you’ll never solve the Agile/UX question in an effective way.

[Jeff]

Posted in agile, design, enterprise, Lean UX, Productivity, ux team | 7 Comments

20 years of technology and music – my interview with Carbon Leaf

(Note: This post is a bit of a departure from my usual content. For those who don’t know, there was a period of time where I was an aspiring musician – I play keyboards – and played with a couple of bands that gave “making it” a real shot. During those days, we connected with our local comrades-in-arms Carbon Leaf. Recently, I found myself reflecting on how much things have changed technologically since we were in those bands all those years ago. It inspired me to reach out to my buddy Terry Clark, one of the founding members of Carbon Leaf, and ask what’s changed in the past 20 years of being an independent touring band. His answers are below. Enjoy.)

Carbon Leaf in 1993:

Carbon Leaf - 1993

 

 

 

 

 

 

and Carbon Leaf in 2013:

Carbon Leaf 2013

 

 

 

 

 

1.Can you give a quick recap of Carbon Leaf’s history? How long have you been together?

We started at Randolph-Macon College in spring of 1993.  Basically just as a diversion, with no serious ambitions.  After a few months together, we started writing our own material and really liked what we were turning out, so we stayed together after graduation.  Eventually, all of us relocated to Richmond, VA where our weekend gigs started stretching to three, four or five days long.  We were releasing our own music on cassette and CD, basically selling them (or giving them away) at shows and a few local record stores. In 2002 we had to privilege to win an American Music Award as Coca-Cola’s best-unsigned band.  That opened a lot of doors for us as and definitely introduced us to a lot of people. The following year, 2003, we signed a record contract with Vanguard Records and released 3 albums through them. During this period, Carbon Leaf was fortunate to have a couple of successful radio singles that really helped put our music into a lot of new ears. In 2009 we left Vanguard and restarted our own label, Constant Ivy Music, and have released 5 new projects to date… including 2 full length albums in 2013: Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle and Constellation Prize.  We have always been “road dogs”, touring our butts off – to the point of wearing out five vans and three trailers.

2.When you first started the band, how did you get the word out about shows?

When we first started the band, promotion involved a lot of flyers stapled to telephone poles and mailing out physical postcards to our fans.  We used to sort our mailings by zip code in an effort to get a bulk mail discount at the Post Office.  In short, it was incredibly time consuming and a pain in the ass.

3.In the early days, how did you make records? How did you distribute and sell them?

Our first recording was a 4-song demo cassette recorded at a friend of a friend’s home studio.  That was the dawn of relatively in expensive digital recording.  He had and 8-track studio consisting of a Tascam DA-88 and a Mackie board… pretty revolutionary for the time.  Duplication was accomplished at our apartment with a stack of 5 daisy-chained cassette decks.  It was an art to push play on one deck while simultaneously pushing record on 4 other decks!  We gave away cassettes by the bag full at shows, generally throwing them into the audience from stage.

 

Shortly thereafter, I got an entry-level job in a “real” recording studio in Richmond (In Your Ear).  I was allowed to record at night to figure out how things worked and to try to learn the art of production.  All of the engineers there pitched in a great deal and helped me immeasurably when, in 1995, we started what was intended to be a full-length cassette.  It turned out that CDs were cheaper than cassettes at that point, so the project really became our first CD – Meander.

 

As a bit of a recording footnote, we were using one of the first professional hard disc recording systems, The New England Digital Post Pro.  It was 16 tracks on four separate hard drives in an enclosure the size of a refrigerator… it cost $250,000 and weighed 600 pounds.  Seriously.

 

The CDs we sold at shows and on consignment at local record stores.  Almost all of those stores have since closed :-( and the biggest one has filed for bankruptcy.  They still owe us a little money, so we receive copies of all the legal proceedings… it’s pretty sad.

 

A few years / albums later, we signed on with a large independent distributor and they were able to get or CDs into a lot of store throughout the country.  Some time goes by and it seemed like we should be getting more money from them, so we hired an accountant to audit them.  It turns out they owed us $80,000.  Awesome.  Needless to say, we are no longer with them.

 

 

4.How effective were these early promotion tools? (i.e., how much return did you see on the time/money you spent on these tools?)

Our flyer and postcard promotions were kind of successful… gradually more and more people started coming to shows.  We relied a lot on word of mouth.

 

5.How has the internet changed the way you promote the band? Make records?

Our main goal these days is to communicate directly to our fans through our website (www.carbonleaf.com), Facebook (www.facebook.com/carbonleaf) , Twitter (www.twitter.com/carbonleaf), YouTube (www.youtube.com/carbonleafofficial), SoundCloud, Instagram, etc.

 

We also us a service called Topsin for organizing our email database… allowing us not only to send monthly newsletters to the whole list, but it also gives us the ability to GeoTarget specific areas that we are playing.  That way we can email just our Texas fans about our Texas shows and not have to spam everybody.

 

Through Topspin we can also sell downloads of all of our albums, give away free downloads and sell “official bootlegs” of all of our live shows.

 

A few years ago, we built a pretty decent ProTools based studio at my house and have done almost all of the production there for the last 5 projects. We trade files with people via the Internet using Hightail and Dropbox.

 

6.What role does social networking play in the band’s activities these days?

It’s huge. We try to stay connected everyday to let people know what we have going on and it allows us to easily communicate directly with the fans.  It’s fun and helpful to able to see what our fan like and dislike in almost real time.

 

7.Do you run your own social networking accounts or does someone else run it?

We run them ourselves.

 

8.Do you use technology (of any kind) to “test” your material? (i.e., to see if people like it, will buy it, etc)

Not really.  In an ideal world, we like to play new songs live first, before we record them.  That’s the best way to see if something’s working or not.

9.What’s been the single most transformative technological change, when it comes to keeping Carbon Leaf going, since you started playing together?

Computers.  Not only can we make a really good album on a laptop now, but we can also distribute it to the world, promote it and connect directly to our fans from that same laptop.

 

10.What do you hope to see in the near future for music technology?

Unfortunately, all of this technology doesn’t make the 24-hour van drive from San Diego to Austin any quicker. :-)

 

I’m not sure what is coming next, but I’m sure that it will be smaller, faster, and cheaper and will hopefully further reduce the barriers between our audience and us.

 

 

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