Psychologist Edwin Hollander proposed a concept called “idiosyncrasy credits”. They give what Adam Grant calls in his new book, Originals, “the latitude to deviate from the group’s expectations”. In a sense it is why we “tolerate and sometimes even applaud the originality of a high-status star”. What is important to note is that idiosyncrasy credits “accure through respect, not rank: they’re based on contributions”.
Think of the recently passed David Bowie’s fluctuation between the pushing of and working within the boundaries of popular music. His output represents the constant deposit and withdraw of idiosyncrasy credits.
Grant’s emphasis on contributions highlights an important lesson here. Using idiosyncrasy credits imply earning them. The ability to go against the grain and make mistakes are not good in of themselves. Spending and no saving leads to debt. The ability to uphold the status quo and maintain stability are not good in of themselves. Saving and no spending leads to a different kind of debt, one of regret.
What if we looked at the work we do in music as work involving this currency of idiosyncrasy credits?
Do we make calculated risks in the ways we distribute our music as we help the scene as a whole (Quote Unquote Records)? Do we make take risks in how we view and talk about classical music while feeding into its rich history with performance and education (Benjamin Zander)?
What other possibilities are out there?