Have the Dixie Chicks become relevant? I really enjoyed the 60 Minutes interview with the Dixie Chicks tonight. It was nice to see them get some air time to bring us up to date on what they're thinking and why they have chosen to record a new album after three years out of the public spotlight. Though he didn't use these actual words, what Steve Croft was essentially trying to determine was how relevant the Chicks are today. For three years, most country music stations have refused to play their music. Many of the DJ's who took offense at Natalie Manes' comment in a London pub that she was ashamed that President Bush was from her state (Texas). At the time she made her statement, the war in Iraq was really heating up and Bush's popularity was high. The entire band, which was among the most popular in the world at the time, was "punished" by having their music taken off radio, thanks to immature, self-righteous program managers who worried more about losing a commercial sponsor than about that pesky little freedom of speech thing that raises its ugly head now and then. (As an aside, why is that country music stations never declared Willie Nelson "unpatriotic" when he failed for years to pay taxes? Instead, they helped him raise money.) Now the Chicks are back and have the number one most downloaded song on iTunes. As they explained on 60 Minutes, they haven't changed their anti-war stance, nor are they ready to apologize or do anything to win back the country music fans who abandoned them. Instead, they've produced an album full of music they like that reflects how they feel. The public be damned, in other words. It will be interesting to see how the Chicks are accepted, not just by country music fans, but by crossover fans as well. Bush's popularity is in the tank right now and more people than ever now agree with the Chicks' opinion on Bush. On the surface, then, it seems they just may make a big comeback and be seen as "relevant" just because the country, generally speaking, has shifted more in their direction. Relevance often has a short shelf life, so it's entirely possible that the Chicks will ride a wave for a while, then find themselves drowned out once more, based on an increase in Bush's popularity. The way they can remain relevant over the long haul is to either broaden their appeal or recreate themselves every time the wind blows. Personally, I hope they're wildly successful in this come-back and that they make the necessary crossover to other music fans so they remain relevant for a long time. I've been a huge fan for years and have all of their songs on my iPod, which I frequently put into loop mode. We can all learn a valuable lesson from the Dixie Chicks: we can create our own relevance or we can get lucky that we become relevant based solely on outside sources we can't control. The Chicks are either really lucky or really smart. I vote for the latter.
Are you relevant? Here's how to know: if you're absolutely certain what you offer really matters and you've won the mindshare and heartshare of your clients and potential clients, you "get" the SPUD Factor. SPUD stands for Strategic, Proactive, Universal, and Dynamic. If you aren't sure how relevant you are, or you fear becoming a SPUD Dud, this blog's for you. Find out what it takes to remain relevant in the face of change. Learn from good - and bad - examples how relevancy drives longevity.