And now today at Make Good Trouble, we invite you to take off your shoes, light a clove and learn to pen the perfect protest song. We kid, we kid. And sincere apologies to Bob for that, cause you know he hates that shit.  Now of course, we could learn endless lessons from the man–but this is a Dylan show not a Phish fest, so we’re gonna respect y’all’s time.

So viewer engagement and best practices and all that? Absolutely. But don’t cut down your video to :15 seconds when you know :75 feels right.

LESSON 1: To grow an audience, sometimes you have to piss off your biggest fans.

One of the defining moments in rock history. Dylan goes electric at the folkiest of all folk festivals. The fans go ape… and Dylan changes music forever. As marketers, we’re often too petrified of offending our old customers to go for it when it comes to getting new ones. Inevitably, the product suffers. If you do it right, they’ll admire your courage, forgive you later and maybe even love you more in the end.


LESSON 2: Embrace the sound of your own voice.

Ahh, the sweet dulcet tones of a slowly dying pet store parakeet. But ain’t no mistaking whose voice it is, baby! And when you bring your truth in style and own it, that’s when you become an original.

LESSON 3: Create an amazing story. Then think about going dark a while.

At the height of his fame, Dylan either had OR faked a serious motorcycle accident, then went off the grid for two years. Both his legend and demand for new music grew. In this age of nonstop contact, we tend to freak if we aren’t front and center all the time. But strategically leaving the people wanting more can create incredible anticipation.  (see also Dave Chappelle, Nintendo NES, Star Wars).

LESSON 4:  Follow your gut and make it as long as it needs to be.

In 1965, the average radio song was under three minutes long. When Dylan recorded Like a Rolling Stone, it came in at six minutes. And over the objections of his label, that’s how it went out–and that’s how it went to #2 on the Billboard charts. So viewer engagement and best practices and all that? Absolutely. But don’t cut down your video to :15 seconds when you know :75 feels right. (Jimi agrees.)

LESSON 5:  Keep dreaming about Alicia Keys.

Five decades in, almost 50 albums under his belt and lord knows how much hardware lining the shelves… and instead of telling old war stories at harmonica conventions, Bob was still reflecting on his game and finding inspiration from up and coming talent. (Meanwhile Oscar Robertson still hates Steph Curry. Anybody know Oscar? Send him this post.)

“I was thinkin’ ’bout Alicia Keys, couldn’t keep from crying
When she was born in Hell’s Kitchen, I was living down the line
I’m wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be
I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee”

– Bob Dylan, Thunder On The Mountain

Bruce Gray is co-founder and Executive Creative Director at Admirable Devil, a purpose driven ad agency.

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