Music and Innovation

Music and Innovation
Reviewer: Jason Landry
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Two Beats Ahead:
What Musical Minds Teach Us About Innovation
256 pages
April 06, 2021
ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:

Discover what the musical mind has to teach us about innovation in this fascinating book, featuring interviews with Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, T Bone Burnett, Gloria Estefan, Imogen Heap, and many more.

“Creativity is the big bang.” ~ T Bone Burnett

The book Two Beats Ahead is not only a primer about the music business and the ways that innovations occur, but it can be looked at as a simple guidebook for life. It brings together ideas and thoughts from today’s music producers, entrepreneurs, and musicians. The interviews and short anecdotes connect the reader with the theme of each chapter, some conveniently titled after popular music terms like “demoing”, “producing”, and “remixing”, and by the end of each chapter they give you some songs to listen to and ponder.

Some of the lessons that they touch on in the book include the act of listening, experimentation, the importance of collaborating, creating a partnership with producers, creating something new vs. innovating, the use of your senses and how they perceive things, and how to pivot in order to change.

The one story that struck a chord with me was how using your senses help you perceive things. A great example from chapter eight was when Yoko Sen was in the hospital for a few months and heard medical devices chiming. She could tell that some of them were pinging a C note, where others were a high-pitched F sharp. The two clashed in her mind almost liked the infamous “devil’s interval” (listen to the song Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath for reference) and for some nurses caused them stress. Yoko thought, can you imagine if this is the last thing that you hear before you die? Her idea or sense was to come up with different sounds or soundscapes for the medical devices and medical facilities that would be more soothing. She never set out to become an entrepreneur, it was just something that she had to do.

Most of lessons that Panay and Hendrix try to instill upon the reader can be applied to everyday life. What I deduce from this book is that the authors were looking to provide a motivating and inspirational platform centered around the topic of innovation while taking the reader on a journey through the music industry and beyond, quite possibly to create a greater YOU. Many of the conversations that they had with the individuals in each chapter were inspired, and the background stories and factual information that they compiled they were kind enough to share links to in the Prelude.


I’ve read a number of books like this for individuals interested in business, investing, and who have a desire to be entrepreneurs, but not specifically from a music business standpoint or geared toward musicians. It was unique and would be an ideal read for any new musicians starting out, especially those who do not have the business accoutrement. The lessons and stories in the book Two Beats Ahead are educational and well worth reading.

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