Matthew Beale has a really interesting post over at madhatted.com that concerns lessons we can learn from Motown. The “we” in question is the software development community. The post is interesting on its own terms but what really struck me was the story of how Motown worked. Those of us of a certain age are very aware of Motown. They were the record label for groups such as the Supremes, The Four Tops, The Jackson 5, and many, many others. Motown had the highest hits to released singles ratio in history. They had 30 #1 hits during the 1960′s.
For most people that’s ancient history yet as Beale notes they have something to tell us. Here’s how Motown managed to crank out all those hits:
- Each writing/producing team was required to write 5 new songs a day.
- At the end of the week, each team presented their 5 best songs to the other teams.
- Each team got to record their 2 best songs of the week.
- Each recorded tune was mixed, usually about 15 times by different people.
- Each mix was turned into a record.
- The quality control department listened to each record and picked the “A” side that was released and promoted.
This process was so efficient that The Four Tops hit It’s the Same Old Song took just 24 hours to go from writing to release to DJs. That’s really astounding. When was the last time you were able to get anything through the pipeline in 24 hours?
Be sure to read Beale’s post to find out more about the Motown process and what it can tell us about our own processes. Even if you’re not a software developer, you’ll enjoy learning about how Motown managed to turn itself into a hit machine.