Taking a page out of violinist Joshua Bell’s playbook, U2 just performed a concert incognito in a New York City subway for unsuspecting bystanders, proving that people’s perception of great music is, in fact, influenced by their knowledge of the musician’s existing fame, or lack thereof. Along with Jimmy Fallon, U2 disguised themselves as a local folk band and tried to garner a crowd by playing some U2 covers. Just like in the Joshua Bell experiment, people walked right past these musical legends. Nobody had the slightest clue that they were in the presence of one of the most popular bands of our time. Things get interesting about halfway through the video. Just watch.
If you’re not familiar with Joshua Bell, or Washington Post’s experiment, he’s a world renown violinist whose concerts can cost upwards of several hundred dollars a ticket to attend. In a social experiment orchestrated by The Washington Post, Bell took his talents (undisguised even) to the Metro subway station in Washington D.C. and played for tips. During the 45 minutes that he played, he received approximately $30 in tips. Here’s that video:
What should our takeaway be from experiments like these? Perhaps we should take a step back and strive to appreciate art for what it is, not for who created it. Should we be any less impressed by a stranger’s talent than we are a famous musician’s? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.