In his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman discusses, among other things, the collision of westernization and tradition that is found in developing nations. He concludes that the best society is one that takes full advantage of technology, interconnectivity, and creative entrepreneurship, while preserving tradition, and finding genuine value in its individual significance, both historically and culturally. The “Lexus” represents modernity and technology, and the “Olive Tree” represents culture and tradition.
As an artist currently emerging in our social media-heavy world, it is very important to realize that social media’s main function is simply to amplify offline activity. Photos, videos, and almost all of the content you share and consume online are simply isolated snapshots of something that was done offline. Social media is the vehicle to connect the physical world to the digital.
The best offline asset you have is your live show. It must be great. The live show represents the “Olive Tree” in two ways. First, as I mentioned above, it is the key offline aspect to your band that people can view online. But secondly, and on a larger scale, the live show is the single area of the music industry that is not being drastically destructed by technology. This is because the intangible charm of standing in a dirty club with hundreds of like-minded strangers is impossible to authentically replicate through a laptop at your desk.
While it is easy to get caught up in social media, it is important to remember to constantly polish your live show. Find creative ways to bring a glimpse of that live experience online, with the ultimate goal being to get people offline, and out to your show. If you can build any sort of community surrounding you and your music, either digitally or physically, you’re golden. Just like a nation westernizing, bands must find the balance between the Lexus (social media) and the Olive Tree (live show) to achieve success in today’s music industry.