Stop & Hear the Music

In Washington, DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007,

this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time,

approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing.

He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet

his schedule. 

About 4 minutes later: 
The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and,

without stopping, continued to walk. 

At 6 minutes: 
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch

and started to walk again. 

At 10 minutes:
A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly.

The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard

and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time.


This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent -

without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. 
About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace.

The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded.

There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians

in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin

worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston

where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station,

was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about

perception, taste and people’s priorities. 

This experiment raised several questions: 
*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? 
*If so, do we stop to appreciate it? 
*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world,

playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments

ever made… 

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?


Ok, now the above story has been posted many times in blogs and facebook. 

As a marketer, I have a slightly different opinion about this story.


This story shows how ridiculous it is to do business at the wrong timing and aiming

at the wrong target. It also shows how important it is to have brand recognition.


If somebody speaks out, telling people who he is and how special this music is,

then the result of the experiment would have been changed.



This is a very good experiment or research on how important the power of marketing

is and how it affects our life and business.