Data lessons from Iron Maiden


"Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral."
–Melvin Kranzberg

The quote above is my favorite one of Kranzberg's six laws of technology. The law applies to everything from typewriters to tablets. Think of it as Moore's Law sans limits. I doubt that Kranzberg was a heavy-metal fan, but his words ring true for us data-loving headbangers.

Iron Maiden's Eddie1.jpgConsider how British metal legends Iron Maiden responded after seeing a spike in illegal bit torrents in South America. Maiden took action – but not the legal kind. From a recent BoingBoing article:

Rather than send in the lawyers, Maiden sent itself in. The band has focused extensively on South American tours in recent years, one of which was filmed for the documentary "Flight 666." After all, fans can't download a concert or t-shirts. The result was massive sellouts. The São Paolo show alone grossed £1.58 million (US$2.58 million) alone.

Note that the public perception of fighting fans is fraught with peril. Just ask Metallica's Lars Ulrich.

For more than 15 years now, most intelligent folks have understood the futility of attempting to prevent illegal music downloads. Record-industry lawsuits may have engendered the demise of Napster, but it has done very little to curb pervasive MP3 sharing. Current estimates put the illegal to legal download ratio at 25:1.

It's a tough time to be an emerging musician, but that's neither here nor there. Maiden is a one of the world's most iconic bands. Its mascot Eddie (pictured above) is far more recognizable among his contemporaries on many U.S. sports teams. Judging by its decision to listen to new sources of data, it also is a very intelligently run band.

Simon says

Learn from Maiden. This example provides sage for all organizations of all types. Sure, you can try to fight an inexorable trend, or you can get on board. No, I don't condone stealing music, but the trail left behind by pirates just may represent a valuable new product or service opportunity.


What say you?

(Admit it. Now you want to listen to "The Number of the Beast.")


It turns out that this story is apocryphal. Given its publicity, though, don't think for a minute that other bands aren't thinking about mining bit torrent data. It's just plain smart.

Tags Napster

About Author

Phil Simon

Author, Speaker, and Professor

Phil Simon is a keynote speaker and recognized technology expert. He is the award-winning author of eight management books, most recently Analytics: The Agile Way. His ninth will be Slack For Dummies (April, 2020, Wiley) He consults organizations on matters related to strategy, data, analytics, and technology. His contributions have appeared in The Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, The New York Times, and many other sites. He teaches information systems and analytics at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business.

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