February 23, 2010
Editor’s Note: Adapted from an article originally on Somewhat Frank.
I have been writing about start-up companies and emerging technology for quite sometime and in doing so I have come to recognize the approach to success that start-ups take. This past summer, I got a chance to take another look at a different kind of start-up, one that goes by the name of ELEW (or ELEWW on Twitter).
ELEW is powered by the thunderous energy of jazz pianist Eric Lewis as he has been innovating on jazz as we know it. Eric Lewis has created a new niche which takes alternative rock hits and brings them to the piano with a vengeance. But what makes Eric unique is that when he plays these tunes they sound like he is being accompanied by an orchestra.
So what makes Eric Lewis so interesting? Eric’s approach to jazz is an innovative one that reminds me of a start-up as he disrupts the traditional jazz system in a way that could fuel some heated debates, similar to how start-ups can disrupt the flow of business as usual. Eric has also created a recognizable set-list which helps ensure people can relate to it. It’s his way of telling his musical story so that others can relate to him. This is similar to the way successful start-ups often have a clear story that is easy to relate to. Eric has carved out a niche that did not previously exist, which reminds me of the way Twitter and other start-ups have created a need that users did not even know they had.
ELEW has played at TED Conference, Tribeca Film Festival and even the White House (shown below) among others.
I met Eric Lewis a few years ago and I have seen him play a few times now both in New York and Washington. I’ve even seen him play a private show where he played with such fury that he exploded the keys on the piano (shown below). Also check out these fabulous ELEW photographs by Jen Consalvo from one of his D.C. shows.
Eric has leveraged social media and word of mouth to spread his musical message through his grassroots fans and supporters before he even had an album in a similar fashion to the Grateful Dead or Dave Matthews Band. So I was extremely excited to see the launch of ELEW’s first album ELEW Rockjazz Vol. 1 on iTunes.
It’s been a joy to watch ELEW grow, leveraging a start-up like approach and with the new album I only see his popularity growing towards the mainstream tipping point.
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