Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman wrote a book called ‘Sounds Like Titanic’.

She was a trained violinist and moved to New York to follow her dream.

But she couldn’t get a job playing violin and she was deeply in debt.

Until one day she answered an advertisement for violinists.

She practiced for the audition, but they gave her the job without even hearing her play..

Because that was the point, no one would ever hear her play.

She, and the other members of the orchestra, were paid to mime to CDs in shopping malls.

They had microphones but they were switched off, sound was blasted out from a CD player.

The orchestra members needed to look like they were playing, but it was purely visual.

The music they were miming to was copied from famous tunes.

Hence the title of her book “Sounds like Titanic”, which was the response from the audience in the shopping malls.

The audience would never have gone into record shops and asked for these CDs, in fact they weren’t even sold in most record shops, but the CDs sold in their thousands when the orchestra was ‘playing’ in front of the shoppers.

Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman, and all the other members of the orchestra, made a good living this way, the more CDs that sold, the greater their cut of the profits.

The orchestra made a 54-city tour of the USA in 74 days.

But it bothered her she wasn’t really playing, just miming, no one would ever hear her.

She couldn’t work out why people were seduced by the sight of an orchestra playing.

Obviously the acoustics on the CD were the opposite of the noisy shopping malls.

But it seemed almost a religious experience for many people, some would buy a dozen CDs and swear the music cured their depression, their health problems, anything.

I think it shows that vision is more important than sound.

Without the orchestra ‘playing’ those CDs, they wouldn’t have sold.

A similar thing happened in reverse in Washington DC in 2001.

Joshua Bell was musical director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, one of the world’s great violin virtuosos and one of the biggest names in classical music.

As an experiment he played to the crowds during rush hour on the Metro.

He played for three quarters of an hour: two pieces by Bach, one by Schubert, one by Ponce,and one by Massenet.

He played a Stradivarius, made in 1713 and worth $2 million.

To hear him play on stage, you’d have to pay up to $450, but of the 1,097 people who passed by that day, only 7 actually stopped to listen to the music.

People didn’t think the music was worth stopping for because he was just one scruffy man wearing a baseball cap and playing in the Metro, how good could it be?

They trusted their eyes more than their ears.

Again, the visual was far more important than the sound.

Which proves presentation is everything.

Beautiful music on CDs wasn’t interesting until they could see an orchestra ‘playing’ it in front of them.

Beautiful music on a violin wasn’t interesting unless it was played in a concert hall.

So people judge the setting, the context, the environment, the presentation, before they judge the actual content.

It’s worth remembering that next time you try to sell a creative idea to a client.

It’s no good believing they’ll recognise the brilliance of the idea.

It’s exactly the opposite, they’ll judge the quality of the idea by how it’s presented.