John Horsley
John Horsley 9 October 2014

Founder of the World's largest digital music distribution company talks about where inspiration comes from

I had the pleasure to catch up with Scott Cohen, Founder, The Orchard ahead of his presentation at Inspiration - Think Again to hear his ideas on inspiration and where it come from for him.

I had the pleasure to catch up with Scott Cohen, Founder, The Orchard ahead of his presentation at Inspiration - Think Again to hear his ideas on inspiration and where it come from for him.

Find out more about Inspiration - Think again on the 23rd of October at the Royal Geographical Society, London and the great speakers who are on the line up.

• Please introduce yourself

I’m Scott Cohen. I’m the founder of a company called The Orchard. It’s a large distributor of music, film, television and video. We started back in 1997. It’s the first digital distributor of music and now we have offices in more than 25 countries around the world. We do a lot of the marketing and promotion around all of the releases we have.

• Where does inspiration come from for you?

What inspires me and where do I look for inspiration, it’s always outside of the industry I work in. I spend a lot of time the last couple years being inspired by people in human rights and environmental issues. Those activists to me, truly inspire me. The things that they’re doing to change the world and often times, putting their lives in danger to make the planet a better place. But I also look to other industries outside of the music and entertainment and digital space. I look at what’s happening in medical science. I read books on how the brain works and brain plasticity. Trying to just understand how other people look at the world and how they think. Hopefully, I can apply some of that to what I do.

• What do you do when you have an idea?

What do I do when I have an idea? First I tell everybody. I think a lot of people are very protective of their ideas and the worried that somebody’s going to steal them. I’m always worried that nobody’s going to do it. If I have an idea I’ll tweet about it, I’ll Facebook about it, I’ll take meetings, I’ll bring it up in meetings and engage what people think of it and am I crazy or is this have some resonance? Sadly, I’m a bit overworked now. I say now, I’m always a bit overworked. I can’t do as many things as I’d like to do. What I recently started doing is tossing these ideas out to people I trust. If they want to run with them, I’ve now started funding companies and investing in them which gives me a little bit of that entrepreneurial spirit without actually having to be an entrepreneur, spend my nights sleeping under my desk and eating a can of beans because I can’t afford a proper meal.

• What is an idea that you’ve had from conception to delivery?

An idea that from inspiration to realization. I’m in the middle of one now. It started around a number of people I met in the human rights space. I saw these activists doing amazing stuff on the ground in different countries, in Africa and Asia. Then I thought about my own industry where we have pop-stars and rock-stars and more recently things like reality TV stars. Now we have YouTube stars. I thought, "Wow, we seem to be putting our attention on the wrong people." What if we could have the same kind of attention for activists and follow them on YouTube, the way people might follow Jenna Marbles who’s a YouTube star.

I had a conversation with a couple people I know, already they work in the human rights space now. We set up a company recently that’s going to launch eminently, we put some money into it. Let’s identify these people around the world that are doing special things and how do we build YouTube channels around them and social media around them and get them to spread the word. By so doing, it also raises awareness for the causes they’re fighting for, inspires other people to work on these causes. And finally, actually raises money for them, so that they’re not holding their hat out looking for donors but by merely watching a YouTube video that has some advertising around it in a very small way that ‘slacktivist’ that’s watching it is transformed into an activist. It’s actually empowering the person that’s doing the work.

• What are you going to talk about at Inspiration?

What am I going to talk about an inspiration? I don’t know yet. It’s a big thing. Maybe I’ll talk a bit about my history. Where I came from as a young naïve entrepreneur, a serial entrepreneur that entered the digital space when nobody believed that that was going to be the future. What seems so obvious now was not obvious in the mid-nineties. Maybe I’ll talk a little bit about that and my struggles along the way to get me where I am today.


INSPIRATION - Think again


Beverly Jackson, Senior Director/ Head of Social Marketing, Yahoo

Laura Jordan Bambach, President, D&AD and Creative Partner at Mr President

Ed Hebblethwaite, Executive Director, Seymourpowell

Debbie Klein, Chief Executive, The Engine Group

Justin Cooke, CEO, POSSIBLE

Scott Cohen, Co-Founder, The Orchard

Chris Barez Brown, Founder, Upping Your Elvis

John Farquhar-Smith, CEO, Flux Creative

Nick Bennett, Head of Product & Digital, Starcount

Peter Knapp, Global Creative Officer, Landor Associates

Matthew Dieumegard-Thornton – Climbed Mount Everest at age of 21

Peter Ferris, CEO, Ferris Entertainment

Ahmed Hasan, Chief Digital Officer, GE Healthcare

Ann Booth-Clibborn, Founder, Booth-Clibborn Creative

Find out more here!

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