Oh, I have no idea if the musical and lyrical content of the former Groupon wunderkind Andrew Mason’s “motivational business music” album, “Hardly Workin’,” is all that great. I haven’t listened to it. Sorry, Andrew, I didn’t pony up the $9.99 on iTunes yet.
But I know plenty have. And that’s just part of why I think this is a fantastic bit of strategy on Mr. Mason’s part.
Actually, there’s a couple reasons why this is pretty slick. Let’s get into why.
1. It got people talking about him again.
And it’s during a time when Mason needs eyes on him. Sure, people were curious what his next move would be after Groupon, both in a looky-loo rubbernecking way and also in a totally earnest way. But this album is a seven-track full-on blast of Mason’s characteristic goofiness. It reminds everyone not only that Mason is still around, but that he hasn’t changed who he is. After everything that went down with Groupon, he can still be true to who he is and not hide from the limelight. That’s spunk.
And it worked. Chicago Grid teamed up Flashpoint Academy Founder Howard Tullman with my Onion colleague and super-prolific music critic Jason Heller to have the unlikely pair review the business ethos and musical merits of the album respectively. It’s, um, well, an interesting read. Also interesting: Tullman admits that Mason has some good points.
2. It was risky. But interesting.
Not that Mason is a laughingstock, but part of his reputation has always been to catch people off-guard with his irreverence. Nobody exactly expected an album from Mason — much less one that gives advice on how to better run your business — and that’s sort of the point. What is entrepreneurship if not taking risks of all stripes? Also, hey, it is earning Mason some extra dollars that have likely already added up to be more than his severance package of $378.36 in the weeks since its release. And it will continue to earn him some money indefinitely. People are bound to be curious about the album. Always. And that’s smart to take advantage of.
3. It’s probably part of some sort of bigger project.
Mason is soliciting “implementation success stories” from people who have used his album to bring about positive changes in their offices. Sounds like good, old-fashioned networking to me on the one hand, and building a database of contacts that, I don’t know, may want to have a line to Mason when he unveils what he’s really up to next. Bravo.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as IFC’s comedy, film, and TV blogger, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. (He also co-runs a blog behind the DePaul class, DIY Game Dev.) He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.