What Led Zeppelin Can Teach Us About Art
Led Zeppelin was arguably the most influential rock band in history.
Ending in 1980 with the death of their drummer, their music is timeless. Their songs are regularly featured on the soundtracks of contemporary motion pictures and commercials.
Whether you are a Zep fan or not, the band was unique in countless respects. In this regard, there are three things every writer, blogger, and artist can learn from them.
Do what’s never been done before, even if it contradicts the advice of experts
Jimmy Page, the mastermind of the band, decided to release an album that had no title. In fact, it didn’t even have the name of the band on the cover!
Their record company retorted that this move was insane and constituted professional suicide. But Zep’s manager stood with the band and Page was sharp enough to acquire all artistic rights to do as the band pleased.
That untitled, unnamed album sold over 30 million copies, and today, it stands as one of the most sold albums in history. Songs from that very album are regularly featured in commercials and Hollywood movies today, some 40 years later.
So take risks. If you have a vision to do something different, go for it. And don’t let the conventional wisdom stop you.
Every time I’ve created a “never before” blog post or podcast, I’ve never regretted it. Even if it didn’t end up going viral.
Never, ever “dis” your competitors
If you look at the publishing industry carefully, it’s not unusual to find authors dissing other authors. Jealousy is often the root behind this “low road” behavior, so those at the top get shot at the most.
Just a few years into their career, Zeppelin eclipsed the renowned Beatles in popularity, both in the UK and the USA. When Zep was asked what they thought about The Beatles, Zep’s lead guitarist Jimmy Page commended the Beatles and their work publicly and powerfully.
The opposite example is illustrated by Elvis, who according to Beatle drummer Ringo Starr, was so threatened by The Beatles that Elvis tried to get them deported!
So always speak well of your competitors when asked. Even if they dis you out of jealousy. Taking the high road builds trust and admiration, and it serves as a powerful example for others.
(This is why I always say nice things about Jeff Goins.)
Stay true to your convictions rather than selling out to pop culture
While authors should always write for their audiences rather than for themselves, that doesn’t mean they should “sell out” to what’s popular.
Here again Led Zeppelin can teach us about staying true to our convictions. Zep refused to do what every other artist and band did (and still does) at the time: They refused to release singles!
(This was true in the UK, and they only did it a few times in the US.)
Zeppelin wanted people to listen to their albums, because to their minds, an album represents a complete body of work. They wanted people to consume their entire projects rather than small fragments of them. And they were rewarded for their decision.
Zep albums rank among the most sold in history compared to most bands of the same genre and beyond. Zeppelin, in effect, forced consumers to check out their whole work or dismiss it entirely.
In all of these ways, writers, bloggers, authors — and other artists — can learn a few things from a 1970s rock-and-roll band that left its mark on the music world.
What is one change you can make in your writing using the ways of Led Zeppelin? Share in the comments.