06/27/2018

When Paul McCartney Rocks, We Should Listen.

By Mark Blankenship, AKA’S Integrated Content and Community Director

Really, Paul McCartney never has to break another sweat in his life. At this stage in his career, who could blame him if he chose to be a 76-year-old retiree, resting on his mountainous laurels?

Yet there he is with James Corden, in a Carpool Karaoke video released last week, drenched from the effort of rocking a Liverpool pub.

The surprise concert concludes a tour of McCartney’s hometown memories, complete with stops at the barbershop that inspired the first verse of “Penny Lane” and the childhood home where he and his friend John wrote “Love Me Do.”

The nostalgic scenes would be enough to make the video essential. Who doesn’t want to see one of the greatest living musicians revisit the rooms where it happened? Who doesn’t want to sniffle along with Corden when he recalls his own late grandfather singing “Let It Be”?

But the video transforms from an internet meme into an unforgettable experience when Paul springs that live show on the pub patrons. Thunderstruck by their good fortune, they leap up to sing, dance, and generally beam at one another. Soon enough, even the people strolling by race into the bar and join the fun.

It’s a perfect evocation of how experiences can transform us. Just like that, an ordinary dive hosts an unforgettable communal experience – for those there, and for those watching later.

The moment is magnified because Sir Paul himself is so committed to it. Instead of taking it easy, he’s working hard on behalf of his art and the people who love it. He’s giving his all to creating an experience.

And sure, this video was at least partially designed to help sell McCartney’s new album. He and Corden sing one of his new songs while they’re driving around, and it’s no accident that Corden already knows all the words. But the product being marketed is discreetly folded into the larger, generous experience. In fact, the new tune only underscores that this superstar still cares enough about his music to keep making it.

What valuable lessons for all of us. When we’re generous with the people who care about our work – when we create experiences for them – they will join us in creating a memorable event. When we keep making things we love, we can spread the word in a human, accessible way. And those moments, experiences, and events lead to conversion and sales.

What would happen to our next projects if we mimicked Paul McCartney’s behavior? How would it change our approach if we focused on inviting people with a welcoming celebration? We might get sweaty, but we might also be transported, just like our audiences.