Sounds like a BuzzFeed quiz, doesn’t it?
The question was asked the other day in our office (this is what we do all day — no real estate sales stuff, we just talk about music) and it got a really interesting conversation started. We had answers that ranged from Bob Dylan to Neil Young to Rage Against the Machine – and yes, it was mostly dudes having this conversation. I’ll bet you couldn’t tell.
(Quickly, a disclaimer: There is no quicker way to start an argument than by comparing bands. I fully expect there to be disagreement. And secondly, yes, this question is totally self-indulgent. Comparing any one of our businesses to the Beatles or the Stones seems a little far fetched, but we are going to do it anyway.)
Real Estate = Music Biz?
The question is fun as the parallels between being in the real estate sales business and being in the music business are surprisingly numerous. Unlike working for a company like IBM or Apple, where you’re selling a product designed by someone else, in real estate, you’re selling yourself and the client experience you provide – and bands operate in much the same way.
If your business was a band or artist, who would you be?
So if you think about it, who/what would you be if you were in the music business? Would you be a band or a solo artist? Would you be an improvisational jam band or a choreographed pop band? Would you have a stripped-down stage presence, or would you have a multi-media laser light show that assaults the audience’s senses? Would you play stadiums, music festivals, or small venues?
So, we wrote down every question we could think of – and these were our favorites.
Are you better in concert or in the studio?
Seriously, where are you best? Are you best when you are on stage, relating to your audience in the moment, and not really knowing what might happen next? Or, are you best in the studio, where the latest equipment and controlled environment can capture the subtlety of your work?
[ The ‘Live on KEXP‘ series does a great job of combining the audio quality of a controlled environment with the power of a live performance. It gives you a true appreciation of Gary Clark, Jr’s amazing talent. ]
Some agents are truly amazing when they are ‘on stage’ in front of their clients. They have an innate ability to read people and react instantly. They seem to be energized by the process and have incredible sales stamina.
But, I have also seen agents who are far better ‘in studio,’ where they can really focus on writing amazing contracts, laying out incredible strategies, and crafting brilliantly convincing e-mails to advocate for their clients at an elite level.
Neither way is better as both types of agents have a place in the real estate business, and both can be highly successful.
Great Live — Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Grateful Dead
Great in the Studio — Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Radiohead
How many albums have you released?
So what album are you on? Your debut? Your 5th? Or are you on your 2nd Greatest Hits?
As a lifer in the real estate business, I have seen a lot of agents come and go. I have seen many arrive on the scene, have initial success and then quickly disappear, and I have also seen many agents have surprisingly long careers.
If you think about it, music is exactly the same way. How many times have you heard a new song by a new artist and thought, ‘WOW! GIVE ME MORE!’ Only to be disappointed by their next song or album … it happens all of the time.
[ I find it stunning how only two people can create so much sound… ]
In the music world, you are only as good as the last song you wrote. In order to thrive, you have to become better in the studio, better live, write better songs, and change with the times.
And as an agent, you are only as good as your last sale.
While there is a certain momentum to the real estate sales business, there is also an ever-present headwind making each and every day a challenge. Whether a new layer of government regulations, a spike in interest rates, a new agent in our market, a new website that threatens our rankings, or a new brokerage opens in our backyard — our businesses are constantly under threat. The only defense is to continually up our collective games and consistently push ourselves to stay relevant.
So, whether you are an agent OR a musician, longevity means continually cranking out quality material and making a commitment to consistently expanding your skills.
Left Us Wanting More — Nirvana, Live, Mumford and Sons, Norah Jones, Guns and Roses
We’re Expecting Greatness – The Black Keys
Still In Their Prime — Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam, John Mayer
Tons of Great Albums — Rolling Stones, REM, U2, Willie Nelson, Elton John, Billy Joel, The Eagles, Bob Dylan
Can you switch gears?
When David Bowie died in 2016, we lost a master chameleon who was constantly changing both his look and sound to stay a step ahead of everyone else. The many faces of David Bowie and the length and breadth of his career may never be equaled. He created an amazing library that dates back to the earliest days of rock and roll. He released his first album in 1967 and his last in 2016 … unreal!
[ Bowie’s Starman, remastered for ‘The Martian’, is a great example of how his music resonates decades after its release. ]
When I think of musicians that can do anything they want to, I think of Dave Grohl. He can play guitar in one song, sing in another, and then hop back behind the drums and relive his Nirvana days. And not only can he sing and play just about any instrument, but he writes, records, and produces, too.
[ Grohl was the driving force behind the extremely well done Sound City documentary. This is a snippet from the movie]
So as an agent, are you anything like Bowie or Grohl? Could you change your business model if need be or instantly alter your persona to match your client’s? Could you add an assistant or teammate and not miss a beat? Could you go from the resale side to represent a builder and be equally comfortable? Or, could you move to the commercial side of the business if need be?
The great ones can.
Gear Switchers — David Bowie, Prince, Dave Grohl, Chris Cornell
And it goes on and on …
We just scratched the surface of the possible questions – Does your music cross genres? Do you sound better electric or acoustic? Do you like to collaborate? Do other bands call you an inspiration?
I think we all could use this somewhat offbeat analysis to not only help us better understand our own businesses now, but where we should take our businesses next. Much like the musician, our businesses are reflections of ourselves and I strongly believe that in order to be truly successful, we have to be true to who we are — as corny as that may sound.
So the next time you feel stuck, ask yourself what your favorite musician would tell you to do, and see where it takes you.