#157: The Star Wars Episode – What artists can learn from epic mistakes!

star_wars_musicWith Star Wars, George Lucas built an epic cultural touchstone, and then later left fans feeling betrayed by a series of epic fails. What can musicians learn from his creative mistakes? Lots! Travel with Kevin and Chris to a galaxy far, far away — where you’ll learn the ways of The Force, and pilot your music career through the meridian trench towards indie success.
In this podcast we reference a video series by Red Letter Media. You can find that video series HERE.
  • Roland St Germain

    I personally went through a musical revisionist adventure 20 years ago which resulted in a European (1993) and a U.S. (1995) album with distinct differences; however, this happened only after a attempted plan by players who had just recently joined the group I left to have all of the individual master tracks sent to them to be “reworked”. Had this occurred, many of the original songs would have been deleted, and those which remained would have been bastardized by those same “new” members whom I didn’t trust to babysit my maggot.
    Instead, the master recordings stayed at the original studio, some fixes were made to tighten up the feel of the original, and then all of the individual tracks were erased at my request, thus eliminating any future tinkering by anyone.
    Having endured that Lucas-like experience, I can safely say that I will never revisit a completed project again.

  • Joshua Liston

    Checking out the Song Exploder episode you mentioned – important to keep in mind though that John Roderick is one of the most eloquent and respected speakers in Podcasting.. “Roderick on the Line” and “Road Work” are two of the most insightful Podcasts out there (plus they’re incredibly popular), and John is the main driver of both shows in terms of content and “thought technologies”.

  • kbreuner

    I’ll have to check out those podcasts! Even still, his story is simple and powerful, and it’s easy an artist to see how you to present a story about music in a compelling way.

    He’s not the only one that does a great job, there are a lot of good examples in that podcast.

  • Pravda23

    looking for a link to the golden episode yall are raving about…?

  • kbreuner

    I’m assuming this is what you’re looking for – http://songexploder.net/the-long-winters

  • Matthew Maher

    I found this episode ridiculous. While I agree with your subjective opinion that the Stars Wars reboot produced three terrible films (they truly are awful), Lucas did not make epic mistakes. Quite the contrary, these films were, in fact, wildly successful… to the tune of hundred of millions of dollars. If you are trying to give advice of how to make money from music, I think you completely missed the lessons to be drawn from the Star Wars franchise. Why were the films so successful? Lucas knows his audience: Children! Wether of not you would allow your kids to see those films is irrelevant. Star Wars is for kids. It always has been. You even admit that you discovered the original Star Wars as a child, and were hooked from that point forward. (By the way, the original film was called “Star Wars,” not “A New Hope.”) Of course you did not like the new films… you are an adult! I saw “Star Wars” when it was first released, waited in in line for hours, and really enjoyed myself. I was 11. By the time the third film came out, I was in my late teens. A movie with teddy bears for characters? No thank you. I was no longer a child. Much like you feel about the new films, I felt betrayed and insulted. The new films were, or course, cartoonish because that is how you get kids into the theaters, and more importantly, that is how you sell endless merchandise (toy after toy after toy). As far as Lucas ruining the old films: He ruined them for you and your nostalgia for your youth (which does indeed suck for you), but not for the new generation of children that he re-marketed the films for. The newest non-Lucas film is not aimed at kids, but actually at the young adults who watched the new trilogy and fell in love with it as children. Lucas thinks this is not a good strategy, because there will always be a new generation of kids to peddle treacle to, while adults quickly lose interest in new things (when it comes to “art”). It seems to have worked though, at least in the short term.

  • kbreuner

    We’ll have to agree to disagree. I think saying that a bunch of 20 somethings in the 70’s set out to make a kids movie is more than a stretch. It was not marketed to kids. Especially when you follow on with a Empire Strikes Back which is very dark (and the one most kids don’t like). They were all guys trying to revolutionize movie making. With as much as Star Wars gets dogged for being campy, it’s actually far more serious than much of the Sci Fi genre which had become a joke at that time. Also, just because a film has broad appeal (I saw Return of the Jedi with my parent and grandparents), does not make it a kids movie. Broad appeal is what makes it a story for the ages.

    Yes, George became a kids marketing machine. But I bet he regrets a lot of it. He always talks about how it’s all about good story telling, which he failed at miserably post original trilogy. It clearly bothers him that his legacy has been tarnished.

    All that aside, it was really just a backdrop to have a fun conversation, so I hope you enjoyed that part.

  • Matthew Maher

    It was not marketed to kids? That sort of historical revisionism is almost Lucasian. I am a bit older than you, and I can assure you that the theaters were packed with children. Grade schools everywhere were overflowing with Star Wars merchandise. It is okay to like kids movies if that is your thing… you should embrace that, like your parents and grandparents did. I do enjoy your show, by the way. I have been listening for a long time, and have found it to be entertaining and useful.

  • thanks brother!

  • kbreuner

    Let me know what you think!

  • song exploder is certainly my new #1 podcast. i’ve been looking for something exactly like this. the process of translating music into words, and making decisions based on learned patterns. for example in the one with Alexadre Desplat, he describes using a quantized sample piano (rather than a professional pianist) to try to capture the feel of Alan Turing’s computer-like mind. incredible insight!

  • Star Wars was not marketed to kids in the same way Tom And Jerry was not intended for kids. There’s no revisionism. Lucas retained the merch rights thinking of buttons and T-Shirts it was (I think) the action figure company that approached him with the idea which they massively underestimated the demand for and things kicked off from there. I was one of those kids. The revisionist stance is that George was a marketing genius. He made a fantastic (and lucky) business deal. As did Alec Guinness. Which he then capitalised on VERY wisely and created a lot of incredible stuff (Pixar, Avid etc)

    Back on topic I was expecting a goofy clickbait type of episode and found it brilliantly done and full of great insight. I’ve kept it on my player to relisten to it.

  • kbreuner

    Agree, Star Wars was not a “kids movie.”

    No click bate here! It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. The creative process is fascinating and with the Star Wars series we see it play out in a grand scale. It’s always interesting to see what happens when someone who previously created under very limited resources changes under infinite resources.

  • Perhaps the marketing strategy is to parents? Who pays, wins. And the small children have less money, but more shall we say, emotional volatility that can be assuaged by stuff they like and can return to anytime.