Riffs and Myths of Leadership

Last week saw the culmination of the “Monsters of Rock Event”, featuring Bernie Tormé, hosted by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply in partnership with The Open University.  I must say it was a super night.  If you were unable to attend, here’s a little window into what took place on the evening.  Click on the burning guitar to see Bloomberg TV’s report with Owen Thomas on the evening.  Bloomberg have 300 million viewers worldwide which is a mind boggling number:

I seem surprised at the ‘spontaneous combustion’ of my Les Paul prior to the Monsters of Rock Event – Click on the guitar to view Bloomberg TV’s feature on the event

BBC Radio 4′s Melanie Abbott also attended and put this splendid feature together on their flagship You & Yours Programme:

To my surprise, the event was also featured on BBC One News by the wonderful Mark Norman:

Riffs and Myths of Leadership also featured on BBC 6 Music, The NME, The Independent, Gibson Guitars, BBC Radio 4′s Today Programme, The Sunday Express, The Belfast Telegraph, Planet Rock Radio and many other media, so if anyone is looking to make an impact out there, do get in touch.  This prompted my good friend,  Richard Strange, the “Godfather of Punk” to ask me to get off the media so other people could have a chance! :-)

We also had an extremely diverse audience, ranging from Academia to Pharmaceuticals, HR Specialists, Industrial Entrepreneurs, Insurance, Construction, Railways and even Lloyds of London.  People came from as far afield as Malta, The Midlands and The Isle of Man for the event.  So, what did they get?  Here’s a few remarks:

“Very enjoyable. But, on a serious note you also make a lot of sense in the areas of management and leadership”
Alex Watson, Lloyds Register

“Inspirational – a structured delivery of key management tenets through the art of rock music. The potential for chaos and mayhem reinforced the learning points – risk mitigation came in the form of common understanding, shared direction, a teamworking ethic and the freedom to demonstrate and develop creativity. Net result – a fun-filled, thought provoking learning experience. If you get the chance, take it or regret another missed opportunity to live your business life in the fast lane ……..      Peter Cook (and his band of associates) rock the business world!”

Neil Smith, Oxford Brookes University

So, big thanks to Vicky Nolan at O2 for playing drums, singing and playing harp, Guy Cresswell of Promuseast for providing the lighting, John Howitt, international session musician and or course to Bernie Tormé for his superb guitar playing and good humour.

Of course, If you would like to have a micro experience of our work or maybe a 24 hour strategy retreat, please contact us.  On the horizon are a sales team conference with Scott Mc Gill, improvisational jazz guitarist and a creativity masterclass with Richard Strange.  I’m off for a well-deserved beer with Bernie this evening to discuss opportunities on the horizon with Google, a trip to Romania and a well-known pharmaceutical company …

Light my fire : Bernie Burns the Les Paul

All the small things

Arriving at BBC Radio 4 for ‘You and Yours’

Tuesday is a red-letter day for me.  After many months of planning, we deliver the “Monsters of Rock’n’Roll Business” event featuring Bernie Tormé, for a large group of business managers at the Dartford Hilton Hotel.  The event is being recorded for broadcast by BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme, Bloomberg TV, The Independent, BBC TV, The Brazillian Financial Times and many more.  People keep asking me how I managed to achieve such levels of publicity. Others seem to think I have a major PR agency working for me.  This is not true, and the back story of this may be summarised as a lot of hard work … and a little bit of luck.  It all comes down to ‘the small things’.  Let’s hear Blink 182′s take on all the small things:

Our story has important lessons for all those who have to deal with the media as part of their business.

I had sent a press release out to various places for the event.  The story got picked up by The Independent newspaper last Thursday.  The journalist rewrote the press release to read as follows:

Cook will be joined by Bernie Tormé, former lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, and Ian Gillan, the Deep Purple singer.

It’s perfectly accurate, but do you see what has happened here?

  • I will indeed be joined by Bernie Tormé.  Fact.
  • Tormé was indeed guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne.  Fact.
  • Tormé was also guitarist for Ian Gillan.  Fact.
  • Ian Gillan was the singer of the legendary hard rock group Deep Purple.  Fact.
  • Ian Gillan will not be, and was never due to be, at the event.

The BBC’s editorial team picked up on the story but missed the all-important comma.  By Friday morning, BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme ran a story that more or less suggested I was responsible for reforming Black Sabbath and Deep Purple – An awe inspiring thought but sadly untrue!  By Saturday evening, The Sunday Express and New Musical Express had copied the mistake and amplified our event into a ‘tour’ through the strategic addition of the letter ‘s’ to the word seminar ! :-( Despite copious efforts to correct the story online, the mistake was repeated on BBC 6 Music’s Radcliffe and Maconie show on Monday.  At the time of writing, the story has reached USA Today, The Times of India, Planet Rock Radio and Gibson Guitars.

USA Today copied the mistake and suggested that Ozzy and Gillan were joining a business consultancy – ha ha

This is graphic evidence of what has been said recently in the Leveson Enquiry that:

“Checking your facts = I read it in another paper”

You might say that all publicity is good publicity?  In this case, I had to spend considerable time and energy correcting online media and apologising to Ian Gillan’s management.  Rock’n’Roll HR can be cruel and I’m pleased to say that I still have all my body parts after this process!  I also had to spend quite a bit of time dealing with old rockers and rock chicks, who wrote e-mails to confer God-like status on me, for forging a reunion between Ian Gillan and Bernie Tormé.   Having  pulled this trick off, some of them even expect me to resurrect Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse!

The Belfast Telegraph picked up the story and decided to replace Bernie’s picture with Elton John !  I have not yet decided to get a piano in for the event …

Well-known Irish Pub Singer Elton John turns up in the Belfast Telegraph

What then are the lessons for people who deal with PR and external affairs?

  1. If possible, get national media journalists to send a proof of anything they release.  Of course they don’t like doing this, but it helps to avoid this kind of PR disaster.
  2. Act fast to correct errors.  I stopped the Sunday Express print run by contacting the paper at midnight on Saturday, but the ‘runaway online media train’ had already ‘left the station’ re online copies of the article.
  3. Commas cost me a few apologies to some class A rock stars, but the consequences could be more serious for your business.  In the warped words of Blink 182, All the small things count.
Postscript:  The event was filmed by Bloomberg TV, BBC One News.  BBC Radio 4 also made a programme for their You and Yours Programme.  Woohoo !

 

I predict a riot : The Kaiser Chiefs and New Music Business Models

Introducing Tim Kastelle, Lecturer in Innovation Management for The University of Queensland Business School.  Tim spotted a piece of innovation in The Kaiser Chiefs’ new album which focuses on the idea of mass personalisation.  Before we start, let’s see the Chiefs in action:

Tim takes up the story.  I just finished listening to my version of the new album by Kaiser Chiefs, The Future is Medieval, and I have to say that I’m pretty happy with it.  You may well ask what makes it my version?

The thing that makes it mine is that I picked the 10 songs to go on it, I picked the order they’d go in, and I made the artwork. And I guess I’m promoting it now too, even though what I’m really interested in is the business model.

Here is how Mike Masnick describes the idea:

“…there are two key things that the band is doing with this digital (and it’s only digital) release:

Let fans create a “custom” album with custom artwork. The band is effectively releasing 20 songs, and users get to pick which 10 they want, and put them in any order they want — and then they get a custom piece of album artwork, based on the choices. The website is fun to play around with as well.

Then, once you’ve bought the album, you also get a “fan page” for the unique album that you created, and if you drive others to that page and they buy the copy of the album that you created, you get £1 (the full album costs £7.50).

There are some other little features as well, but those are the two big ones. It’s definitely an interesting idea, and I’ll be curious to see how it goes.”

I’m pretty curious to see how it will work too. Masnick has some reservations about the choices that they’ve made – but it illustrates an important point. When you face a turbulent environment, as record labels certainly do at the moment, then you have to experiment with new business models to find out what works.

This is an interesting experiment.

Here is what singer Ricky Wilson had to say about it in an email to The Lefsetz Letter:

“We’re quite excited about this. Why not make an album yourself? We wanted to reward the fans for being our fans and thought this could be nice.  We just sold all our tickets for our first two gigs exclusively on our facebook page, which worked a treat and we’re going to be getting fans to use Facebook polls to help us pick set-lists and stuff. God knows if it’ll work.  We’ve used a load of our own money to hire some really clever people to build the site and market it so we’re hopeful.  This definitely isn’t some sort of two-fingers-to-the-system thing. In fact our label Fiction have been very supportive.  It’s not supposed to be a massive statement to the world or a fight against anything. It was just fun and we needed that to be honest.”

So what’s different from a business model standpoint? A few things.

By getting people involved it changes the value proposition pretty significantly. If you take an hour to put together your own version of the CD, then you’re likely to feel pretty invested in it. In my case, that worked pretty well because even though I love and have bought a couple of Kaiser Chiefs songs, this is the first full CD of theirs that I’ve ever gotten. Marion Gibbon has a good analysis of some of the issues here as well.

The value network is different too, with fans promoting the record (although here is a critique from Dan Catt of that part of the scheme who suggests that this isn’t necessarily the best idea in the whole experiment – something that I agree with).  Editor’s note – by involving the end user in the profits, it may assist in stopping people downloading the product for free.

It’s also interesting to see what hasn’t changed – the value chain that produced the record is pretty standard. The band was supported by their label to go into the studio to make the music, and all the rest of the process right up to distribution is pretty standard. So it’s not a full DIY value chain like Kristin Hersh is using.

I’ve got no idea if this will work or not. But in a sense it doesn’t matter, because once it’s done, we’ll know something about this type of approach. And other bands and labels can try it themselves, or come up with a way to make this business model better.

The one thing that I do know is that if your business model is in trouble, trying out ideas that involve your customers more deeply in the process of creating things is probably smarter than suing them.

To finish, let’s hear a track from The Kaisers’ new album:

Check in with Tim Kastelle’s BLOG, and his work at The University of Queensland Business School.  Oh, yes, and I predict a riotously good time at the Leadership event featuring Bernie Tormé on June 19 at the Hilton Hotel – featured in The Independent  last week.

Pomp, Circumstances, Kings, Queens and Punks

The kids are alright – at the Jubilee Concert – Picture by Baroness Ella Melitta

The Royal Jubilee celebrations afforded a rare moment of relaxation to reflect on the pomp and circumstance of such ceremonies.   However ‘punk and circumstances’ contrived to fill some of that time, after we were asked to do a last minute gig with Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine.  In case you missed Carter, here’s The Only Living Boy In New Cross:

I had not really noticed Carter USM when they appeared on the indie punk music scene in 1988.   Razor sharp lyrics that reminded me of Jarvis Cocker and Richard Strange’s skills in this area.  Indeed it seems that Jim Bob is something of an admirer of Mr Strange.  In case you fancy catching up with Richard Strange’s work, you can catch him talking about the moment when the Sex Pistols asked to support The Doctors of Madness at ‘Punk Britannia’ on BBC 4 for a few weeks at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00s81jz/Punk_Britannia_PrePunk_19721976/

Watching the Jubilee river procession and its awe inspiring £32 Million bill made me think of the pomp and circumstance of Rock’s most expensive moments in the name of branding.  Let’s sample a few of them:

The moment when Michael Jackson floated a statue of himself down the River Thames – a cool bill of 50 Million dollars for the ‘HIStory’ album that went with it:

Madonna’s ‘Express Yourself’ video – just a ‘modest 5 Million Dollars’ in 1988 by comparison:

Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody video weighs in at a rock bottom price of £4500 in 1974 – that’s about £43 K in today’s terms:

So, here’s the tough question on enduring brand value.  Which of these do you consider will have the longest-term impact on society?

The Queen – £32 Million (2012)

The King of Pop – Michael Jackson – £50 Million (adjusted for 2012)

The Queen of Pop – Madonna – £7.2 Million (adjusted for 2012)

Queen – £43 K (adjusted for 2012)

If you are looking to spend a more modest sum for the Jubilee, M&S report that they have introduced a range of retro underwear (that’s in the sense of yesteryear, not pre-loved :-) )for the Jubilee.  For even less money you can get a free copy of Punk Rock People Management from me.  Simply click on one of the M&S women and get your copy for FREE.

Retro underwear from M&S for the Jubilee – hurry now to get yours before it rains again