Discover more from Unfair Advantage
What Daft Punk Can Teach Us About Coaching
Lessons in competitive advantage from two anonymous French dudes.
Very few photos exist of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.
If you sat next to them at a party you’d have no idea that you were sitting next to two of the most influential figures in music history.
They have sold millions of albums, won six Grammy’s, recorded with the entertainment industry’s finest artists, revolutionized live performance, and almost single-handedly popularized the Coachella music festival.
Despite their original band being written off as ‘a daft punky thrash’, the duo used that negative review to propel them to new heights.
For nearly 30 years, Thomas and Guy-Manuel fashioned loops, samples, and simple vocals into style-bending electronic dance music that eventually achieved cult-like status.
In sport, we often look to other industries for lessons on how we can gain an unfair advantage.
Here are three lessons we can take from Daft Punk’s mindset of performance:
1. Less Can Be More
Many modern artists relentlessly release music in order to stay relevant, but Daft Punk did precisely the opposite.
In 28 years as a group, they released just four studio albums.
The less music they released, the more their mystique grew, culminating in their final album Random Access Memories being their only work to achieve worldwide number one status.
2. Focus On Your Craft
In an age of talent show singers and assembled pop troupes, Daft Punk stand out for their use of craft to build influence and impact.
Their robot masks and fashioned personas allowed fans and critics to focus on the music they created rather than who they were dating or which Parisian cafes they were frequenting.
When Giorgio Moroder — the godfather of disco and dance music — worked with the pair, they had him record into microphones from three different decades.
Quizzing the sound engineer on who the heck would be able to hear the difference between the microphones, the engineer responded, “Nobody, but the boys will.”
3. It’s About People
When you brand yourselves as robots and make your music on computers, it’s easy to forget about the human beings that bring it to life.
Daft Punk became agitated that an EDM song could be made in an afternoon on a laptop, with no real thought or love.
Their final album was a commentary on the state of the industry, and a reminder that the soul of music lies in the humans performing it.
With this laptop-generated music around us, whether it's e-pop, EDM, even pop music — all the genres have been done with these computers — what was really lacking to us is the soul that a musician player can bring.
Between recording with orchestras and live in-person recording sessions with the likes of Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams, the album is estimated to have cost in excess of $1-million to produce.
In a very clear message, the opening track is titled Give Life Back to Music.
In coaching our teams, we shouldn’t forget:
More isn’t always better. Just because we can do something, it doesn’t mean we should.
Our value as coaches comes from our craft — our ability to see and hear things others can’t.
No amount of technology can replace the brilliance of the humans we work with.