Bringing It All to Bob’s Home

Bob Dylan

“Twenty years of schoolin’, and they put you on the day shift” – Bob Dylan. However, perhaps some of us are contemplating the merits of blazing a different, renegade trail post-graduation, such as starting one’s own business. Nevertheless, before choosing to become your own boss and forming your own firm it would be sagacious to consider the historical examples of other start-up entrepreneurs. Subsequently, as Richard Branson’s story has been told and talked about nearly as much as “The Night Before Christmas;” I would like to direct your attention to the tale of Martin Newman. Newman is both an architect and designer; whose firm has serviced many of California’s most prominent, famous residents. Hence, we can see from studying Martin Newman’s practice that the 5 Dimensions of Service Quality (Tangibles, Reliability, Responsiveness, Assurance, and Empathy) are integral to his approach.

Newman’s first famous client, who would open up the floodgates for Newman’s future famous clientele, was none other than Bob Dylan. Newman got hooked up with Dylan after Dylan’s wife at the time, Sara Lownds (think Dylan’s song “Sara”), spotted one of Newman’s custom coats, designed after historic Indian blankets. Lownds requested that Newman travel to her Malibu home and measure Bob and herself for coats of their own. Newman complied with Lownd’s request, which in turned opened the door for Newman to travel with Dylan throughout his Rolling Thunder Tour designing props, outfits, and instruments. Consider how Newman took the time to personally travel to the Dylan residence for their coat measurements; this demonstrates a caring and personalized approach which comprises the service dimension of “Empathy.”

The Rolling Thunder Tour was not the end of Newman and Dylan’s relationship. After the tour, Dylan commissioned Newman to design and manage the construction of his new home. At this point we observe, Newman utilize the dimensions of “Responsiveness” and “Tangibles.” Prior to breaking ground on the mansion, Newman went through books of classical arcs with Dylan; who suggested that Newman construct examples of all the different types of arc. Of course, Newman was very “responsive” to Dylan’s request and in turn designed, “a real castle…whale-watching room…cathedral room, a story telling room.” Likewise, Newman was not a one man operation, but he was simply the leader of a very “tangible” group of artisans. Despite Dylan’s mansion containing a hodgepodge of designs; overall, the house signifies the Spanish Missionary theme common to Southern California. This plays to the service dimension of “Reliability” in that Newman was able to design the house to fit the Spanish overarching theme, because Newman’s stated niche was, “Pre-World War II Spain.”

After successfully finishing Dylan’s house, Newman went on to complete projects for Sam Elliot, song writer Billy Steinberg, and the dynamic musicians from the Eagles: Don Henley and Bernie Leadon. Newman would not have been able to design and build all these miniature “Hotel California’s” if he did not do such a tremendous job on Dylan’s home. This is because after successfully designing Dylan’s house of many colors; Newman was able to offer “Assurance” to the rest of his clients that he had the willingness and expertise to offer a unique and wonderful design service for them. Thus, Newman has been able to build himself a lifelong career, leading him from one A list celebrity to the next, due to his talent and adherence to the “5 Dimensions of Service Quality.”


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Why Does the Sound Quality of My iTunes Parallel a 1970’s Lou Reed Album?

“Yeah I’m an analog man in a digital world” – Joe Walsh. It’s alright Joe, when it comes to music, analog is a good thing. At least, the superiority of the analog format is what Neil Young is out to prove with his music quality focused startup company, Pono. Specifically, this summer, Neil Young’s company, Pono, hopes to roll out a cloud based music library as well as a digital to analog converting application. The goal of Pono is to give the music lovers of the world the opportunity to listen to their favorite songs and albums in analog format as oppose to the prevailing digital format most closely associated with Apple’s iTunes and Spotify. Pono is truly a breakthrough improvement, completely changing the quality of the music we listen too as analog format means the same sound quality as what is heard in the recording studio. Ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in the control room at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio or Sunset Sound, Neil Young is giving you that opportunity.

Neil Young is not alone in his mission to make Apple’s iTunes and Spotify re-think what the consumers desire for quality. In fact, Atlantic Records and Warner Music Group have publicly partnered with the Pono project. Further strengthening Young’s quality crusade is the host of music industry legends, Young has brought on to help win public support for Pono. Specifically, Young has received valuable feedback from members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mumford and Sons, My Morning Jacket, Tom Petty, and producer, Rick Rubin. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist, Flea is perhaps the most vocal supporter of Pono; going on the record to say, “It’s (Pono) not like some vague thing that you need dogs’ ears to hear. It’s a drastic difference,” and “MP3s suck. It’s just a shadow of the music.”

I truly marvel at Neil Young’s passion in the pursuit of high quality music sound through breakthrough improvement. Neil Young could have just invented a better version of iTunes with a more calculated “shuffle” function; however, he chose to solve the main problem with iTunes, namely the quality was not very pleasing. Hopefully, consumers will reward Young for undertaking a David versus Goliath endeavor aimed at making Goliath sound a lot less brutish. I will purchase Pono products as soon as they are lunched as I feel safe investing in a Neil Young product. If you have ever listened to any of Neil Young’s music, especially his 1980’s catalogue, you know that Neil Young is not in the money making business, but the touching people’s lives business. As Flea recently said, “His (Neil Young) reasons are so not based in commerce, and based in just the desire for people to really feel the uplifting spirit of music.” Thus, breakthrough quality improvement teamed with a strong, trustworthy leader should spell success for the Pono project.


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