Two Beats Ahead

What Musical Minds Teach Us About Innovation


By Panos A. Panay

By R. Michael Hendrix

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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. 
Musicians may just hold the keys to innovation in business. They don’t think like we do, and in the creative process, they don’t act like we do. It’s no coincidence that some of the world’s most respected creators are also entrepreneurs.
In Two Beats Ahead, Panos A. Panay, senior vice president for strategy at Berklee College of Music, and R. Michael Hendrix, global design director at IDEO, interview some of the nation’s top musicians and business leaders about how they approach innovation differently. They speak with hit maker Desmond Child about the importance of demoing and with industry legend Jimmy Iovine about listening and knowing your audience. Readers will learn the secrets of collaboration from Beyoncé and Pharrell Williams, about “daring to suck” from Justin Timberlake, about the power of reinvention from Gloria Estefan, and the importance of experimentation from Imogen Heap and Radiohead. And they’ll learn the value of finding and producing talent with T Bone Burnett and Hank Shocklee, cofounder of Public Enemy.
A window into these brilliant mindsets, this book equips any entrepreneur or innovative thinker with tools they can put into practice to thrive in an evolving world.



Music is the skeleton key that opens every door.

—Pharrell Williams

In Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, just blocks from Fenway Park and the Charles River, sits a twelve-hundred seat performance hall on the campus of Berklee College of Music. On an unseasonably cold April day in 2018, every seat was filled with students, faculty, and guests, with eyes fixed on a large screen suspended over the stage.

When the screen blinked to life, it was filled by the larger-than-life grin of Pharrell Williams. He had beamed in by Skype from his home in California to talk to the Berklee community about the artist as start-up. Pharrell is a musician and producer who has won eleven Grammy Awards and an Oscar nomination for his work with collaborators, including Daft Punk, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, and Robin Thicke. He is equally well known for his work as a design director, creating sneakers for Adidas, Chanel, Reebok, and Timberland; eyewear and jewelry for Louis Vuitton; down jackets for Moncler; and a fragrance for Comme des Garçons.

But before the conversation started, Panos thanked Pharrell for joining, especially since it was on his birthday. At that, a group of five students stood up from their seats and began singing “Happy Birthday to You” a cappella, then seamlessly shifted, after a few bars, into a sunny, stomping rendition of Pharrell’s hit song “Happy.”

When the music stopped, Pharrell bowed graciously to the singers in thanks, and then began the conversation with a simple statement: “Music is the skeleton key that opens every door.” He went on to say that mindsets he had learned in the recording studio—following his intuition, collaborating with others, trusting his own voice, and exploring new outlets for expression—had also led to success in his many business ventures.

“I’m always curious about new sounds, new textures, new ways of expressing myself,” he told us. “I think curiosity is where it begins for me. There are people who focus on one thing singularly, and that works for them. But a lot of us, including people here in the audience today, need to be able to express ourselves in different ways. When we do, we enjoy the fruits of having seeds in many different grounds.”

For nearly three decades, Pharrell has applied these mindsets to both art and business. As a musician, whether in live performance or in the studio, he is adept at trading in emotion, building upon the logic of chords and scales to connect with audiences. These same tools have equipped him as a creative director for global brands and fashion houses and to connect with customers. In many ways, he is the embodiment of the ideas that we will explore in the pages following: that the mindsets developed by musicians make them good entrepreneurs. That artists, executives, and creative spirits can draw upon these skills—whether as small business owners, visionaries looking to get a start-up off the ground, nonprofit managers, or leaders in the gig economy.

And, of course, it’s not just Pharrell. While working on this book, we sat down with Justin Timberlake to talk about songwriting, Imogen Heap about experimentation, Hank Shocklee and T Bone Burnett about shaping environments for creative expression, Prince’s sound engineer Susan Rogers about prototyping, Madame Gandhi about connecting with audiences, Jimmy Iovine about listening for gaps in the market, and many others. We also talked with leaders from Google X and Amazon.

We realize that these are conversations that don’t happen every day. In our professional lives—Panos as senior vice president for global strategy and innovation at Berklee, and Michael as global design director at IDEO—we’re lucky that doors are open to us as musicians, as veteran founders of successful start-ups, and now as executives of organizations that are globally acclaimed for innovation. But neither of us began our career the way businesspeople are “supposed to”; we have no pedigrees from Ivy League business schools or internships with disruption gurus.

Yet even before we met, we independently realized that our backgrounds in music are key to our success. That the creative mindset is more than a unique approach to entrepreneurship, more than drawing upon the improvisation of jazz or practicing until our fingers bleed. Since we started sharing thoughts with each other, we’ve only been confirmed in our belief that music cultivates an essential way of thinking and working in business—especially in today’s deconstructed, discombobulated, and unpredictable world.

When we sit and talk together, we laugh a lot. We swap old band stories as easily as we talk about unlocking the creative genius of kids in Abu Dhabi or Shanghai. And as we have taught, traveled, and consulted with clients, we’ve been delighted to discover that there are many like-minded people who feel, perhaps without knowing the words for this feeling, that this idea has merit.

So we think of this book as a conversation between the two of us, the amazing artists and entrepreneurs we’ve been lucky to interview, and you as a reader. In other words, be forewarned: this isn’t a how-to manual. It’s not a “Seven Easy Steps to Success” seminar. It’s not a drawn-out blog post of fifty-four things to try today. Rather, it’s an ongoing dialogue that we hope will inspire you to think about your business, your goals, pretty much everything, through the lens of the musical mindset. You’ll read about creativity and collaboration, listening and openness, and trust and fear and how all of this relates to working in today’s marketplace. But above all, you’ll see how the musical mindset can be a new framework of seeing and responding to a dynamic world, a constant learning and growth approach that mirrors the openness and adaptability of music making but applied onto a whole new context. The mindsets we discuss in the pages following are not only helpful, they are necessary—and they are lacking. Our schools prioritize coding classes over art; our workplaces reward algorithms and analytical thinking. Artificial intelligence and big data are the pursuit du jour in corporate playbooks. Although we recognize the value of all of the above, we also see a real gap, an urgent need, for the kind of imaginative thinking needed now to tackle our society’s increasingly complex challenges. It’s not about making the false choice between science or art, mathematics or music, but about emphasizing both. After all, it’s no coincidence that arguably humanity’s greatest mind, Leonardo da Vinci, was both scientist and artist and seamlessly used one discipline to inform the other. Artists and entrepreneurs alike work and produce better work when they learn to listen, experiment, collaborate, demo, produce, connect, remix, sense, and constantly reinvent. Our world is no longer defined by brick and mortar. The possibilities are endless.

One more thing: as you read each chapter, we encourage you to sit with the insights, anecdotes, and information, letting them sink in. So at the end of each chapter we’ve created an interlude, a playlist of songs by the artists you’ve just read about that can easily be found on your favorite streaming service. Give the songs a listen, not only to get to know the artists better but also to give your mind a breather, a bit of space to process what you just read. You’ll find, as we have in conversation after conversation, that great ideas from amazing artists take on new shapes, mixing with your own thoughts—and who knows what they’ll spark? But the first step is critical, and, in our experience, it all starts with listening.

The Space Between the Notes

The most powerful thing is often the thing which lies slumbering in the silence.



standing in an audience of ten thousand people at Red Rocks Amphitheater, a geologically formed, open-air venue in the mountains west of Denver. On each side of the stadium seats are three-hundred-foot-tall, 200-million-year-old sandstone monoliths that have shaped acoustic perfection for bands like the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, and U2. It’s a late summer night in 2018, and you’re on your feet, along with everyone else in the crowd, at Illenium’s sold-out show.

Illenium is an electronic dance music (EDM) artist and DJ who mixes his live performances in real time, backed by a band that includes a piano, guitars, and five drum kits. The stage set is a spectacle by design: the musicians play framed against gigantic screens that flash video clips as you dance among the other shadowed figures in the strobing lights. Now and then, bursts of pyrotechnics light the upturned faces around you. But halfway through the hit song “Silence,” Illenium’s collaboration with megasinger Khalid, the screen goes dark and twin spotlights shine on a lone guitarist repeating four bars of a simple melody over and over again. Behind him, the band dials back, foregrounding Khalid’s gentle, fluid vocals. This goes on for more than a minute before all five drummers make their way back into the song, picking up the thread, beating a rhythm that sounds almost like a military march, increasing in intensity and speed. Everyone around you stops dancing: it’s hard to find a beat to follow, to know how to move, as the energy shifts from kinetic to potential, building tension, building anticipation.

Then, precisely at two minutes and twenty-two seconds into the song, the music stops.

It’s only a pause, not even for a full second, but it creates overwhelming drama. And when the song starts again it is with a massive bass drop, every instrument on stage at full volume. You can feel it in your chest, like the downhill fall on a high-flying roller coaster, an incredible release that floods the amphitheater, bouncing off the cliff walls and out into the desert night.

Creating a moment of silence before “dropping the beat” is a popular technique in the clubs and concert venues where EDM reigns, but it has a much longer history. In the late 1700s, classical composer Josef Haydn often wrote pauses into his compositions to build tension with audiences. His string quartet from Opus 33, nicknamed “The Joke,” calls for a cellist and three violinists to stop midpiece. Not just to pause, but to stop playing completely; in some performances, the musicians go so far as to put down their instruments. When the audience begins to applaud, the performers start again: the song isn’t over yet. The crowd sits back in their seats. When the notes fade away a second time, the audience claps again, but the musicians cut them short once more, picking up where they left off. The third and final time, the audience is awkward, unsure of what to do. Silence fills the performance hall, displacing sound with curiosity.

An even more famously provocative use of silence in music is John Cage’s “4′33″.” Written in the late 1940s, Cage’s composition instructs a musician to walk onstage, bow, pull out the bench at a piano, and sit. And sit. And sit. For four minutes and thirty-three seconds, everyone waits but not a single key is struck. Audience members who have never seen the piece performed before squirm in their chairs for a few minutes, but gradually everyone becomes keenly aware of the ambient sounds in the room. The rustle of a program. A cough from the balcony. The clacking heels of someone walking through the lobby. A car passing in the street outside. All sounds that were present all along, yet unnoticed. At the end of four minutes and thirty-three seconds, the pianist stands, bows once more, and leaves the stage.

In his book Silence, Cage insists that music both requires and includes the absence of music. “Formerly silence was the time lapse between sounds, useful toward a variety of ends, among them that of tasteful arrangement,” he writes. “Where none of these goals is present, silence becomes something else—not silence at all, but sounds, the ambient sounds.”

Of course, these are deliberately provocative examples. But think for a moment: every song you have ever heard makes use of the space between notes. This space is what gives a song its rhythm and texture; what is not played is as important as what is. We might miss the rests, stops, and intervals because we have been conditioned to expect what is familiar—that is, until someone breaks the pattern and grabs our attention.

How did you react when you came across the eight blank pages at the beginning of this chapter? Maybe you flipped forward, looking for the words you expected. After all, we’ve been conditioned since childhood: turning a page means that the story continues. But did you notice anything in yourself as you found blank page after blank page? Maybe thoughts flashed through your head like: “Why is this going on for so long?” or “Oh boy, I bet someone at the printer got fired!”

Why should a book not have blank pages if it’s for a purpose? The vast majority of songs on the radio are designed to deliver exactly what we expect: a great intro, a hummable hook, a repeated chorus. But music can also confound assumptions and release you from the trap of expectations so that you discover something new and beautiful.

As musicians, we believe that there is something instructive here for our work as entrepreneurs and business leaders. Musicians know how to create moments that break patterns, fill gaps, capture our attention, and inspire not only because of skills they have developed at a keyboard or a microphone, but because they have honed their ability to listen.

Like any musical skill, listening takes practice. The beginner student has to count keys on a piano to find the right note, while a professional can sit blindfolded and play by feel. In this chapter, we’re going to explore examples of musicians and entrepreneurs who have learned to listen to the world around them, as well as to their own internal sense of what works. Both involve being present and open to the unexpected. Whether you are channeling your creativity, building a dynamic company, or leading a team, a musical mindset can play a key role—if you know how to look for the space between the notes.

Listening for the Gaps

From 1990 to 2006, Jimmy Iovine was best known as a founder of Interscope Records, the record label representing an incredible variety of bands, from the Black Eyed Peas to Eminem, Limp Bizkit, Marilyn Manson, and U2. But in the midaughts, Jimmy saw that the industry was rapidly evolving. A nineteen-year-old computer hacker named Shawn Fanning and a budding entrepreneur named Sean Parker had created Napster, a platform for anyone to share music, for free, with anyone else using the software. Music could be downloaded for free and nearly instantaneously. We sat down with Jimmy to talk about this shift and how it led him to an idea that changed not only his life but how we all listen to music.

“In the early 2000s, Napster came out and my first thought was: I get that. This is a problem for the labels. Clearly, the record industry needed to learn a few more tricks.”

With changes coming fast, Jimmy started looking for new ways to generate revenue. He explored a collaboration with Diesel, the Italian clothing company. He dug into streaming options. But it was in a collaboration with his longtime friend, hip-hop pioneer, and superproducer Dr. Dre, that he found his $3 billion idea.

“What was clear was that we needed to get into business with artists,” he said. “We needed to have a relationship with our customers. We have to do other things that are part of popular culture. Dre would complain to me that his kids were listening to his music on computers and with cheap earbuds. He hated that because he had spent hundreds of hours on every sound. And the little white Apple earbuds that were everywhere? Even Steve Jobs said that they were never meant to be the standard for listening to music; they were just starter buds to test out the iPhone.”

One day, Jimmy ran into Dre on the beach. Dre was frustrated, sharing with Jimmy that he was tired of brands asking him to endorse their products, to use his name to drive sales. This was nothing new: for years, he had been asked to partner with various brands, particularly sneaker companies, but he had always said no because he had no personal connection to the product. Jimmy said that he immediately told Dre: you should do speakers not sneakers. Headphones. What if they could make the experience of listening to music as cool as the music itself?

At the time, this might have seemed like a bit of an odd choice. To most people, headphones were a commodity. The shelves at Walmart were crowded with inexpensive options, and companies that sold phones or MP3 players gave them away for free. But Jimmy intuitively felt that an intimate, authentic, real, and direct connection could be created between an artist and an audience at the moment that the artist’s music touched the listener’s ears, and that most headphones were selling that experience short.

“If we could create something that captured an artist’s intent, their vision, on kids’ heads, they would feel something different than they felt through those earplugs,” he told us. “They wouldn’t know what hit them because they’ve never actually had great headphones before.”

Iovine and Dre started by inviting a team from Bose Corporation to Interscope to meet about a collaboration. At the time, Bose was the undisputed industry heavyweight for audiophiles who were willing to spend thousands of dollars on noise-canceling headphones, state-of-the-art sound systems, and accessories. But when the Bose engineers visited Interscope, it quickly became apparent that they had never been in a recording studio. Bose subscribed to a methodology of designing and fine-tuning sound systems on computers, according to the laws of physics and mathematics, using classical compositions as a sound reference. Their headphones were amazing at canceling out background noise and giving high-quality sound. But they fell short when it came to listening to popular music, with its distinct layers of sound and pumping beats.

Buckle up, we’re about to get a bit nerdy. Headphones are designed and engineered with a sound stage in mind—a technical term for virtual proximity to the source. Think of the last time you were at a concert, standing in the middle of the crowd, fifty feet or more from the stage. What did it sound like? Not only do you hear the band, you also hear the people around you, the space between your ears, and the microphones. Now think of a time when you made your way closer to the stage, just a few feet away from the singer. The difference in what you hear is called the sound stage. Modern recording technologies make it possible for listeners to have a much more intimate proximity to the sources of sound. Rather than listening to the blended sounds of a room, you can be standing onstage with the band.

For Iovine and Dre, the aural intent of pop artists was missing from most headphone experiences—as was the heavy bass beat that characterizes so much of today’s music. Drawing upon long careers in studios, Iovine and Dre wanted to create headphones with a sound stage that honored how artists want their music to be heard. Mathematical principles of sound are, of course, important, as are market analytics like demographics, retail penetration, and price comparison, but human experience is front and center. At the end of the day, when we tune into our favorite songs, we are not looking for a Platonic ideal of sound quality—we want to hear the music as the artist intended. And who better to know this than producers who have spent thousands of hours in the studio, helping artists create their unique sound?

Paul Wachter, financial adviser to investors, including Iovine, LeBron James, and Bono, was involved in the formation of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s headphones, eventually called Beats. When we sat down with him, Paul talked about watching Iovine and Beats test out prototypes for their headphones.

“When they were testing prototypes,” Paul said, “they each listened to the same song over and over again, through every pair of headphones. For Jimmy, it was a song he had personally produced for Tom Petty. Dre always listened to 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club,’ which he had produced. They listened to every prototype, every version, using the same two songs, because they knew exactly what each song was supposed to sound like since they had produced those songs, they had engineered those songs, had heard them in the studio, had discussed them with the artists.”

When we asked Jimmy about this, he chuckled. “That’s true. I know what Tom Petty’s record is supposed to sound like because I made it. I mixed it, I mastered it. More importantly, I knew what it was supposed to feel like. The biggest complaint we got about the original version of Beats was that they weren’t audiophile grade: they weren’t precision engineered in a lab for sound quality. But that wasn’t the point. I remember bringing Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and the guy who produces Smashing Pumpkins to Interscope to try out the original Beats. These are bands with big sound, and when their heads started nodding, we knew we were onto something. What we were after was the soul and feel of recording in a studio. Turns out that listeners, like artists, don’t give a shit about audiophile grade; they want their shit to sound good.”

Jimmy and Dre’s first headphones, Beats by Dre, debuted in 2008. They were an unprecedented marriage of technology and culture, with the bass-heavy experience and fashion sensibility that people craved. Within months, Jimmy gave a pair of headphones to LeBron James, who went on to give a pair to each of his teammates on the 2008 Olympics US basketball team. It was a marketing coup: the most famous basketball team in the country got off the plane in Beijing, all wearing a new brand of headphones—one that tapped not only a new sound experience but also the culture of music. British tennis player Laura Robson tweeted about receiving a pair of Beats with a Union Jack design. None of the athletes were paid to wear or endorse Beats; they didn’t have to be. The momentum carried the product forward.

Six years later, Apple acquired Beats for $2.6 billion. In the years since, the sound quality has improved even further and even influenced the engineering behind Apple’s AirPods. As we listened to Jimmy recount some of these stories, it was apparent that his ability not only to listen for trends and gaps in the market but also to attach sound to culture and artists’ intent to audiences—feeling to listening—were at play.

“One of the engineers at Apple once asked me what I mean by feel. It’s everything, everything in your life. When you look at a painting, you feel something. You might walk through a gallery and see ten paintings, but only one of them hits you. It’s the same when you hear a great song: you feel something and interpret it inside your head. When it feels right, it feels right.”

“The thing to remember,” he told us, “is that I didn’t know Beats was going to work. We had a great idea and understood the basis for its potential. Kids were listening to music on headphones that sounded terrible and that looked like medical equipment. We were interested in the power of music, the power of culture. Marry these two things together, then make it sexy, and we can jump over gatekeepers to build demand. We did an ad with Nets forward Kevin Garnett, and one of the marketing guys said: we should get someone bigger, more famous. But I said no, Kevin is known for his intensity, for his authenticity. Kevin is Beats; his attitude is what the Beats attitude should be. So he is walking into a rival stadium, and people are cursing at him and throwing things, but he puts on his Beats and says: hear what you want. When that kind of thing happens, that’s going to win.”

With a $3 billion buyout, it might sound like Iovine and Dre won the lottery, but the true value of their brand came from their insistence upon the importance of the musical experience—rooted in listening to what both musicians and fans want. It’s important to note that they didn’t conduct surveys or polls; instead, they paid attention to the silence, the absence, the gaps. Their story reminds us of advice the jazz trumpet master Miles Davis often told his collaborators: “Don’t play what’s there. Play what’s not there.” As educators and innovators, we see the value of this impulse time and time again. It is possible for us to hone our hunches and learn to feel for what’s in the gaps.

Finding the Starting Point

Desmond Child is a Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee who has written more than two thousand songs. His hits include Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” and “You Give Love a Bad Name,” Ricky Martin’s “La Vida Loca,” Barbra Streisand’s “Lady Liberty,” and “Thong Song” by Sisqó. Other collaborators include Aerosmith, Cher, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Kiss, and Michael Bolton. How has Desmond managed to be so prolific and work successfully with so many artists, spanning genres and generations?

When we first met him, we wondered if Desmond would be imposing and intimidating, a man who is aware of his fame and influence, a celebrity’s celebrity. We were delighted to discover that he is a warm and engaging person, the kind of friend you could talk to forever. To give a quick example of the kind of person he is: during our first conversation with him, Panos mentioned in passing that he was born and grew up in Cyprus. So imagine our surprise when, months later, Panos was invited to Desmond’s home in New York and was introduced to another Cypriot couple, as well as a Cyprus-born chef whom Desmond had asked to cook a traditional meal of halloumi cheese, horiatiki salad, and grilled lavraki. It was more than a thoughtful gesture; it was typical Desmond.

That evening’s meal stretched out for hours. After dinner, we talked about how he learned to write hit songs. He said that his musical education started in infancy, when he lay in a crib next to his mother—the late, great Cuban bolero writer Elena Casals—while she played the piano.

“She was a poet,” he told us. “When she was happy, she’d write a happy song; when she was sad, she’d write a sad song. Her music was a snapshot of her daily life.”

His mother’s translation of slices of life, small moments of delight or sadness, into music and lyrics inspired Desmond to form Desmond Child & Rouge, a rhythm-and-blues-influenced pop band, in the mid-1970s. The band received positive reviews, and its music was included on a movie soundtrack. One of the band’s songs climbed to number fifty-one on the Billboard charts but sold poorly. So Desmond looked to transition into songwriting, and connected with Bob Crewe, the legendary songwriter for the Four Seasons, Bobby Darin, Patti LaBelle, and Barry Manilow.

“For two years, Bob and I would get together at a little place for lunch, across the street from his studio,” he said. “Monday through Friday I’d meet him at noon, and he’d tell me stories about the old days in Hollywood. Then we’d go to his studio—a bare apartment with nothing on the walls, nothing in it but a grand piano and a chair for him to sit in.”

Desmond describes sitting at the piano in the spare room with Crewe in the chair beside him, both with blank pads of paper. According to Crewe’s method, they were searching not for a melody or lyric but for a song’s title.


  • Two Beats Ahead is the first of its kind — a book that turns on its ear the popular myth that business and the arts are at odds with each other. There is so much we can learn from musicians about innovation and creativity in business, and in this groundbreaking and riveting book, Panos Panay and Michael Hendrix show us exactly what we’re missing.”—Amy Cuddy, social psychologist & bestselling author of Presence
  • “I have always believed that the best outcomes in life come from the discipline of business combined with the chaos of art. All successful musicians are entrepreneurs and all great business leaders are artists. In “Two Beats Ahead” Panos and Hendrix prove it. This is a must read if you want to enjoy finding the path of least resistance to the dream you are chasing!”—Kevin O’Leary, Shark Tank Investor, Chairman O’Shares ETFs
  • “At its heart, this is a book about the creative journey. While the main ingredient is music, it is spiced with entrepreneurship, leadership and design and served through engaging stories. The result is one that will be of great inspiration to anyone looking to expand the reach of their creativity.”—Tim Brown, Chair of IDEO and author of Change by Design
  • “For a long time, researchers have known that musical intelligence can awaken the nonlinear whole mind to healing, creativity and innovation. This book is a roadmap for innovators, entrepreneurs and those seeking new avenues for exploring and reimagining the future evolution of human consciousness and its infinite possibilities.”—Deepak Chopra, MD
  • “How we perceive the world is the key to how we act in the world. Based on their course at Berklee, Michael and Panos show that a musician’s perspective, much like a designer’s perspective, can unlock inspiration and innovation, no matter who you are.”—David Kelley, Founder of IDEO & the Stanford
  • “This book is not just about innovation. It may be the most provocative and thoughtful business book of its time, an approach to managing through the cacophony of fifty years of disruption.”—Jim Champy, Business Consultant and Co-Author of Reengineering the Corporation
  • “Great popular musicians must simultaneously master tight structures and freeform improvisation, selfless collaboration and solitary self-expression, artistry and commerce. What a treat to get an inside look at the creative process and enterprising spirit of some of the most talented people on the planet.”—Scott Dadich, creator of Abstract: The Art of Design and recipient of the National Design Award, former editor in chief of WIRED
  • “Being an artist isn't just a matter of having imaginative ideas—to make songs and put them out into the world, you have to use that imagination to problem-solve, collaborate, pivot, and hustle. This book shows how thinking like a musician can provide valuable lessons for entrepreneurs, educators, and anyone who's trying to create something new.”—Hrishikesh Hirway, creator and host of Song Exploder
  • “We all know that creativity plays a major role in the world of music, and that innovation plays a major role in the world of business.  But, are creativity and innovation two sides of a coin? Like the subjects it writes about, Two Beats Ahead is a highly creative, innovative and enjoyable book.”—Irving Wladawsky-Berger, former Chairman, Board of Governors, IBM Academy of Technology; Research Affiliate, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • “As both a professional musician and a business leader, I've always been fascinated by the surprising link between these two worlds.  Two Beats Ahead brilliantly connects the dots, helping innovators, leaders, and creators reach new heights.  Gripping stories, fresh insights, and deeply practical, this inspiring work is a must-read for anyone looking to boost creativity and innovation, both personally and professionally.”—Josh Linkner, 5-time tech entrepreneur, New York Times bestselling author, venture capital investor, and jazz guitarist
  • “Makes a sound case for why the arts should play as central a role in education as maths and science and that to meet the ever increasing complexity of the world’s challenges ‘it’s not about making the false choice between science or art, mathematics or music, but about emphasising both’.”—Financial Times
  • “The authors give plenty of examples of how musical creativity applies to business (demo tracks in music are similar to prototypes in business, for example, while remixing songs is analogous to an innovator’s willingness to change a product)… there are enough takeaways here to make it worth the price of admission.”—Publishers Weekly
  • “The book is strongest in the authors’ presentations of heady concepts in down-to-earth fashion…An intriguing…look at what recording artists can teach us about innovation.”—Kirkus Reviews

On Sale
Apr 6, 2021
Page Count
256 pages

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A Playlist for Every Chapter

Panos A. Panay

About the Author

Panos A. Panay is the Senior Vice President for Global Strategy and Innovation at Berklee College of Music, and the founder of the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE). He is also the founder of Sonicbids, a leading platform for bands to book gigs and market themselves online, as well as co-founder of the Open Music Initiative. He has spearheaded multi-disciplinary collaborations between Berklee and MIT; the design firm IDEO; and Brown University. Panay has been named to Fast Company‘s “Fast 50” list, IncMagazine‘s “Inc 500,” and named as one of Boston Globe‘s “Game Changers” among other awards and honors. He has spoken about the future of the music industry on programs such as CNBC’s Squawk Box, at events such as the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland and has delivered keynote addresses at events and universities around the world.

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R. Michael Hendrix

About the Author

R. Michael Hendrix is a Partner and the Global Design Director at design and innovation consultancy IDEO, where he has worked on everything from home goods to homeland security. His illustrious 25+ year career has made him a sought after speaker; he has delivered design keynotes at Fast Company, WIRED, SXSW, AIGA, FUSE, HOW, and Design Management Institute among others, plus music keynotes at SXSW Music, Sonar Plus and Moogfest. He also is a an Assistant Professor of Music Business/Management at Berklee College of Music and a regular guest lecturer for professional societies and universities across the globe.

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