Management Secrets of Fairport Convention
Joshua Green’s article in The Atlantic, Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead, got considerable attention when it was published earlier this year. Last weekend’s Fairport Cropredy Convention, the long-running outdoor festival the British band produces each August, got me thinking that perhaps we should also consider the Management Secrets of Fairport Convention. Not that the latter has had anywhere near the business success of the Grateful Dead, but Fairport has many things in its favor. The band, which has been together in one form or another for more than 40 years, is as much a collection of concepts and ideas as a musical entity. It stands for a number of admirable things: quality, roots, continuity, inclusiveness, durability, relevancy and timelessness. One page on their site gives all the details for anyone wanting to do business with them. Somehow I doubt that they make a lot of money, though I imagine that financial wealth is relatively low on their list of aspirations. But they have admirably produced the festival, which draws 20,000 people yearly; and in recent years, released albums on their own label. (All of the early albums on major labels still sound great. They were definitely, to borrow a phrase from Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, Built to Last.) Fairport Convention’s inclusiveness and sense of family is also demonstrated by a page on their site with links to sites of former members, with the best known being Richard Thompson. Although he often appears at Cropredy, as do other former members, this year he was on tour in the States. Another former member, Sandy Denny, died in 1978. Her stature and importance as an artist has grown considerably since her death. She will be the subject of a 19-CD box set next month, according to this recent feature in The Guardian. Any person or organization attempting to build a successful brand and develop a community can take notes on how Fairport connects with their community in such a sincere, good-humored, genuine way.