Charity begins at The Bank of England …

I have just written, arranged and recorded some songs on “economics futures” for our 2015 Charity campaign with Dr Andrew Sentance, former MPC member at The Bank of England, Haydn Jones, Managing Director at Fujitsu, alongside a band of musicians featuring Rick Benbow, a session musician and member of Brit Floyd, who recently scored Status Quo’s “Aquostic” album. The triple A side EP “Rockonomics” was engineered by Ozzy Osbourne and Ian Gillan’s former guitarist Bernie Tormé.

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street is ravished

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street is ravished

The songs tell tales of eMen’eM (Macro-economic Mayhem (Yes, I know there are not so many hits written about such things!!):

New Normal” predicts a flatter economic forecast and was a term coined by Andrew Sentance in his first book. The song is set in a Neil Young / R.E.M inspired rebel rant.

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street” (formerly “Forward Guidance” after Governor of The Bank of England, Mark Carney’s catchphrase) is a Blackmore’s Night and Led Zeppelinesque inspired 16th century folk rock anthem that calls bankers, brokers and bosses to rethink the fundamentals on which capitalism rests.

Plus the bonus track “Fiscal Cliff” which I wrote for a BBC programme. Almost as soon as I’d finished it, the BBC were instructed by the Government to stop talking the economy down, so I lost my money and it never made the programme.  That’s the media for you! 😦

We are selling the songs with the option to donate a significant amount to a basket of charities. We are also available for live performances supported by keynote talks in the Square Mile or indeed anywhere around the world. Click the picture to donate by buying the songs plus a bonus track now:

Our Charities

By far the best option for purchase is Bandcamp, as the vast majority of the money reaches the chosen charities with Bandcamp only taking a modest commission. Buy the triple A side EP at TRIPLE A SIDE. Or individual tracks via SINGLES.  The songs will be available on iTunes / Amazon etc. shortly if you just want the tracks without a charitable donation. Meet the band:

Dr Andrew Sentance – Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals, Economics
Zee Fincham – Lead Vocals
Rick Benbow – Keyboards
Pete Stephens – Drums, percussion
Haydn Jones – Bass guitar, vocals
Peter Cook – Lead guitars, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, musical direction

Rock in the City

Rock in the City L-R : Moi, Haydn Jones, Pete Stephens, Zee Fincham, Rick Benbow and Dr Andrew Sentance

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street - inspired by Stairway to Heaven - Robert Plant looks amused - Photography by my friend Christina Jansen

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street – inspired by Stairway to Heaven – Robert Plant looks bemused – Photograph by my good friend, the lovely Christina Jansen http://www.cjansenphotography.com

Here’s the video for the bonus track: “Fiscal Cliff” – a hard rock song for hard times – the forerunner to the Rock In The City sessions:

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Mini update on Fiscal Cliff – where Ian Dury and Spinal Tap meet John Maynard Keynes

It’s really quite exciting to have written and recorded a rock song, so please forgive this brief intrusion into the “Music Business” blog, but I thought I’d post a short update on our progress to make our song on the economy go viral.  There’s also plenty of transferable lessons in terms of marketing, PR and how to use social media.

By the way, here’s all the links in case you feel like sharing any of this.  It all really helps:

Download the song on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play etc.

Watch Fiscal Cliff – The MOVIE

All press updates and the storyboard via SLIDESHARE

When planning a campaign of this nature, most of what happens is unplanned and if you want to create a viral campaign, the key move is to adapt and learn quickly.  Here’s some of the strange and wonderful unexpected things that have happened through our interventions in social and traditional media:

Management Today picked up on the song, thanks to it being played at a Garden Party with Dr Andrew Sentance, former Monetary Policy Committee Member at The Bank of England:

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 13.04.49

We’ve had some people finding the video by accident on youtube and they are loving it’s quirkiness.  Here’s an example:

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 09.57.18

The Church of England have also picked up on the song, as have the Catholic Church after I tweeted The Pope and Madonna with a message:

“Papa Don’t Preach … on the Fiscal Cliff” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfTgzMwq8CY

More surprisingly I am being followed on Twitter by a growing number of evangelical Christians in the Mid West of America and in the US more generally.  Some seem to love the song, others want to ‘heal me’ 🙂  Here’s Paula White who loves the song:

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 13.21.04

I’ve just sent the piece to Lembit Opik, the controversial MP who dated the Cheeky Girls.  I’m rather hoping we may record a dance version of our follow up piece “Forward Guidance” following the new Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney’s recent announcements on reforming the way we think about the economy.  I can foresee a wonderful dance routine arising from this collaboration! 🙂

In need of Forward Guidance from The Cheeky Girls .. Mayor Boris Johnson

In need of Forward Guidance from The Cheeky Girls .. Mayor Boris Johnson

Since I wrote this post today Don Richardson in Canada has contacted Bachman Turner Overdrive, Bryan Adams, Avril Lavigne and Celine Dion to ask them to collaborate with me and Bernie Tormé on “Forward Guidance” !! 🙂  So, two weeks into the process, articles in The London Evening Standard, City AM, Management Today, Innovation Excellence in New York, Entrepreneur Country, various local newspapers and radio shows.  We have programmes booked with the BBC World Service and meetings arranged in New York on September 6th.

If you have any ideas on how to make the song / video go viral, I’d be delighted to hear from you.  If you have a blog that you would like a guest post for etc. just mail me with some Q’s.  It just might change the way we think about boom and bust economics!  I would like to get Sir Richard Branson, Cliff Richard and President Obama to hear the song, and possibly George Osbourne or Ozzy Osbourne !

Thank you for all your support and please excuse this exuberance !  I hope it’s also instructive in terms of your own approaches to marketing and dealing with the media.   If you have not seen the MOVIE, here it is – produced by Val and Errol Whitter of i54newmedia with illustrations from Simon Heath:

Sex and Pay and Rock’n’Roll

Introducing Ian Davidson, a compensation and rewards specialist with a difference.  Ian worked on the MBA programme with me some years back and approached me recently for an interview for his own podcast.  This episode contains a number of fascinating insights on rewards and remuneration, which drive the UK’s economic position in the world:

  • Banking remuneration – Comments on the UK banking standards report
  • Executive Pay – discussion on the MM&K survey on Executive Pay
  • Strong Analytics – using and presenting reward data
  • Rewards in the Middle East
  • Oh, and a live interview with me ! 🙂

Here’s Ian’s podcast.  Click on the picture to listen in.

Sex, Reward and Rock'n'Roll

Sex, Reward and Rock’n’Roll – Click to listen

Ian is a commercially astute, passionate, MBA qualified Compensation & Benefits specialist.  With a sustained record of success within financial services over 15 years, Ian is a nationally recognised expert in reward.  He is currently looking for a role in a commercially driven organisation in London and or the South East.  Contact him if you have such a position by e-mail at administrator@mauritius.demon.co.uk

And whilst we’re on finance and reward, here’s the video from Fiscal Cliff, a hard rock anthem about hard times and the hard rock to recovery.  Feel free to share the video, comment on it and download the single, available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play etc..  It will be the first time a hard rock economics anthem has reached the charts !

Do Rock Music and Economics Mix?

Today marks the global launch of the song “Fiscal Cliff”, a hard rock song about the hard road to recovery! 🙂  The song is available on iTunes, AmazonCDbabyGoogle Play and all the usual outlets – simply click on the White Cliffs below to listen to the song on iTunes:

Click on the White Cliffs to buy the song

Fiscal Cliff tells the story of a broker who looks out over the city one day, reflects upon his life of spreads, swaps, junk bonds etc. and decides that he has caused chaos.  His solution?  To jump the literal Fiscal Cliff!   In the middle of the song, he seeks help with his condition in the form of a consultation with “The God of Economics” who reads him a prayer which changes his mind.  Finally, he decides not to jump the cliff and repents!   Fiscal Cliff was recorded with Bernie Tormé, ace guitar player for Ozzy Osbourne and Ian Gillan.  The song features a Swiss Banker on lead vocals.  The video includes the destruction of a burning corporate edifice with a flaming guitar, and the moment when Tormé felt he had to physically assault me in the studio when I made a mistake on the guitar solo!

If you are able to help spread the song around the world, I’d be ever so grateful.  Here’s a few things that would help:

  1. Buy a copy of the song on i Tunes or any other music outlet
  2. Ask friends, contacts and colleagues to do the same
  3. Spread this blog via Twitter, Facebook, Google +1, Linkedin, Digg, Tumblr, Last FM, Spotify etc.
  4. Reblog this piece
  5. If you know any journalists, please put them in touch.  We are particularly looking for newspaper, radio, TV interviews in the USA, UK and Europe.   We are in New York shortly for interviews
  6. Anything else you can think of – JDI – Just Do It – seek forgiveness rather than permission 🙂

Check this radio interview out:

Here’s the storyboard and lyrics to the song to whet your appetite, with illustrations by Simon Heath, social media’s “Quick Draw McGraw” who were are working with in New York when we deliver the innovation summit:

The Story board for Fiscal Cliff – illustrations by Simon Heath, social media’s “Quick Draw McGraw” – http://workmusing.wordpress.com/about/

The Story board for Fiscal Cliff – illustrations by Simon Heath, social media’s “Quick Draw McGraw” – http://workmusing.wordpress.com/about/

The video for Fiscal Cliff will follow shortly.  Will it be a hit or a miss?  Let’s see.  Fiscal Cliff is available iTunes,  AmazonCDbabyGoogle Play and all other major music channels.

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The making of “Fiscal Cliff”

Click on the Cliff to buy the song on iTunes - also available on all other outlets

Click on the Cliff to buy the song on iTunes – also available on all other outlets

Thursday 25th July marked the day when I received the final mix of the song I wrote about the economy – “Fiscal Cliff”.  I just met up to collect the master mix with Bernie Tormé, who played for Ozzy Osbourne and Ian Gillan, the Producer of the record – what an exciting day!

The song is available on i Tunes, Amazon, Google Play and everywhere else.  I’d be made up if you are able to buy a copy and tell your friends.  “Fiscal Cliff” is a rock anthem about economics, banking, fake suicide, false Gods, false hopes, repentance, renewal, environmentalism, sustainability sex, drugs and rock’n’roll …  It is the first song ever to feature the words Quantitative Easing, John Maynard Keynes, Northern Rock etc. in the lyrics …

The First Verse of the song as illustrated by Simon Heath - "Fiscal Cliff - The Film will follow shortly

The First Verse of the song as illustrated by Simon Heath – “Fiscal Cliff – The film will follow shortly

We recorded the single last Saturday at Bernie’s Barnroom Studios in the heart of the Kent countryside.  Roll the credits:

Bass and expert musical direction by Andee Price of Scarlett Rae and The Cherry Reds

The enourmously talented Andee Price eclipsed by her double bass

The enourmously talented Andee Price eclipsed by her double bass

Vocals by Dave “The Poet L’Oreal – cos’ he’s worth it” – A Swiss Banker who likes Swiss Chard

Drums by Mike “Animal” Grigson – a good friend of mine

Illustrations by Simon Heath, social media’s “Quick Draw McGraw” – a corporate artist who works with us round the world at our seminars and events – We’re next off to New York to work on an innovation summit – who knows, we may perform the song there…

Video work for the film by Val and Errol Whitter of 154newmedia – where “Lordswood meets Hollywood” in Kent.  We have some awesome video in the ‘can’ including the burning of a Stonehenge monument and destruction with a burning guitar and the moment when Bernie Tormé felt he had to attack me in the studio when I made a mistake on the guitar solo!!

I’m also grateful to Dr Andrew Sentance, former Monetary Policy Committee Member at the Bank of England, who has provided excellent informal support and insights into Keynsian Economics, horse racing and Prog Rock – the ‘usual’ combination of interests beloved of world leaders 🙂   Looks like we are going to launch the song at his garden party in August – big fun!

Oh, and I wrote the song …  I guess that makes me Fiscal Cliff Richard …

funny-fiscal-cliff-richard-100-dollar

So, watch out for further announcements – we have been asked to perform the song on the BBC World Service, so this may be the World’s First Global Economics Hit!  🙂  If you are able to help once we have released the record, please let me know.

The First Chorus Line

The First Chorus Line – Click to buy the song now

Bankers, Economists, Politicians, Accountants – lend me your ears …

and some money would be nice … 🙂

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About the Blogger:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk  His latest book “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” is available direct or in the usual places by clicking the relevant link in the slideshare presentation below:

Rockonomics – Andrew Sentance on business, innovation, the economy and Rock’n’Roll

Andrew Sentance at a recent ‘gig’. Rumour has it that he arrived just before Rolf Harris sang “Two Little Boys” and was cut off in his prime by Lenny Henry

Andrew Sentance is Senior Economic Adviser to Price Waterhouse Coopers and combines a demanding career with a love of classic rock music.  I was curious to find out how he has synthesised these apparent opposites.

Tell me something about your background as an economist?

I started studying economics in 1974 at school in the sixth form.  I went on to accumulate three degrees in economics from Cambridge University and the LSE, and then joined the CBI’s Economics Dept in 1986.  That was a key stepping stone for my career.  I went on to become the CBI Director of Economic Affairs and was appointed to an important group advising the Chancellor of the Exchequer – which was known as the “seven wise men” – in 1992.  I also developed a high media profile while I was at the CBI, something which has been a key feature of my career since then.  After the CBI, I spent four years at London Business School and then nearly nine years at British Airways, as their Chief Economist.

In 2006, I was appointed to the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee and I served on the Committee until 2011.  I guess that is the position for which I am best known, partly because I was very vocal in making the argument for higher interest rates in late 2010 and early 2011.  Even though the majority on the Committee did not support me, many other people agreed with me and supported my arguments.

I know you wrote a paper about Led Zeppelin and the economy – please explain in brief?

Mervyn King – the Governor of the Bank of England – is a big sports fan and puts a lot of sporting analogies in his speeches.  He once explained monetary policy by referring to Maradona’s second goal against England in the 1986 World Cup semi-final.

I am useless at sport but I really enjoy rock music.  So when I joined the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England, I felt there was an opportunity to make some connections between rock music and economics.

In the summer of 2010, I started to argue for higher interest rates and I was looking for a good title for the first speech in which I would explain my position.  The speech was in Reading, which has good rock music connections because of the Reading Festival.

I came up with the title – How long should “The song remain the same”.  The basis of my argument was that very low interest rates had been put in place to deal with a crisis in 2008/9, but the economy had started to recover and inflation had been much higher than expected.  So interest rate policy should not remain the same when the economy was changing. You can read the speech on the Bank of England website at How long should “The song remain the same”.

I went on to give another speech inspired by rock music in February 2011 – inspired by the Genesis album “Selling England by the pound”.  Editor’s note – For our blogs on Led Zeppelin – see Whole Lotta Love.

A lot of rock songs have been written about money – can you comment in the inherent wisdom (or lack of it) in these songs?

I think a lot of the “money” songs are quite superficial in terms of their lyrics.  Pink Floyd are one of my favourite bands, and “Money” is one of the stand-out tracks on their album “Dark Side of the Moon”.  The irregular time signature – 7/4 – which then resolves into a straight 4/4, along with the sax and guitar solos, make it an excellent piece of music.  But the lyrics are pretty banal – just a rant against various aspects of the supposed lifestyle of rich people.  Ironically, the members of Pink Floyd went on to embrace a number of aspects of that lifestyle!

Interviewer’s note:  I must agree.  As Prince noted “Money don’t buy you happiness, but it sho’ ‘nuff pays for the search”

There are some good songs, both lyrically and musically, which reflect on broader economic themes.  Two of my favourites are “The Pretender” by Jackson Browne and “American Tune” by Paul Simon. Both reflect on the state of economic unease in the US in the 1970s in different ways.  “American Tune” comments on the loss of political direction:

We come on the ship they call the Mayflower; We come on the ship that sailed the moon; We come in the age’s most uncertain hour; and sing an American tune

Jackson Browne’s lament is more personal and reflects on how we are all drawn into a very materialistic lifestyle through necessity and habit:

I’m going to be a happy idiot and struggle for the legal tender, where the ads take aim and lay their claim to the heart and soul of the spender

Can you comment on what we can (or should) do to encourage a climate where innovation is at the heart of the economy?

Innovation is a very broad concept, and it is not just confined to hard technology. Economic studies show that the introduction of tea, coffee and sugar into the British economy was one of the most valuable innovations – from a consumer perspective – in our economic history.  See A spoonful of sugar.

So if we want to encourage innovation – we should not just look to certain high-tech sectors of the economy, but to how new ideas, products and processes might affect the way we live. It is all about how creativity and creative processes feed through into economic activity.

In my view, the flowering of creativity in the 1960s and 1970s laid the foundation for the technological advances of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s in information and communications technology. The ICT revolution of the last couple of decades has been based on ideas of sharing information, music and visual impact. These were ideas which developed in the 60s and 70s and the “geeks” who have carried forward this revolution grew up in that era..

If I can identify a driver for creativity and innovation in the future, it is probably more closely linked to the challenges we face in managing our environmental problems and the scarcity of energy and natural resources. We have never before been in the situation we now face where nearly 7 billion people all aspire to higher standards of living, and a claim on the limited natural resources on the planet.

We are already seeing these stresses reflected in market prices, as global demand outstrips supply. We are in an era of high and volatile energy and commodity prices. Even in the depths of the euro crisis, the oil price is $100/barrel, compared with $10-20/barrel in the late period from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s. Looking further ahead, the current pattern of use of energy and natural resources risks creating a severe problem in terms of global climate change.

Technology and innovation can help solve these problems of resource scarcity and climate change but it will take time. In my view, the next big wave of innovation will be in these energy and resource-hungry industries – helping us to develop new energy sources and be more efficient in the way we use energy and other natural resources.

What do you do currently?

I work for PwC – PricewaterhouseCoopers, as their senior economic adviser.  After serving for nearly five years at the Bank of England, I was keen to return to the private sector.  PwC has a wide range of clients who are keen to understand the impact of economic trends on their business.  At present, one of my key themes is understanding the “new normal” –  the world that has been shaped by the financial crisis and the emergence of the large Asian economies, especially China and India.  My message is that we should expect disappointing growth and volatility in the major western economies to persist through the mid-2010s.  The era of steady growth and low inflation which prevailed before the financial crisis will not return quickly, if at all.

You play in a part-time rock band. How do you square that with your professional career?

If you have a high profile professional career, I think it is very helpful to have other interests to maintain a sense of perspective on life.  I’ve kept up musical interests throughout my career. Until the mid-2000s, I mainly played as an acoustic guitarist/singer or church organist.  But I now play the bass and sing in a rock band called Revelation, which performs at village fetes and fayres in the area where we live in south Essex.  We cover rock classics, mainly from the 1960s and 1970s.  I also get together occasionally with a group of university friends for jam sessions.

Most people enjoy music.  And many people in my generation appreciate the classic rock of the 1970s.  So music is often a good ice-breaker for conversations at business lunches, dinners and meetings.  I’ve found many rock music enthusiasts in my business contacts and at the highest levels in the Bank of England and at the Treasury.

Who are your rock heroes?

I love a wide range of music from the late 1960s and 1970s.  So I am a big fan of the very accomplished musicians who established themselves in that era.  Jimi Hendrix has to be the king when it comes to guitarists, though I am also a big fan of Dave Gilmour, Steve Howe, Ritchie Blackmore and Tony Iommi.  On keyboards there is only one supremo – Rick Wakeman.  I like bass players who play a strong role in the band, rather than thudding along in the background – like Paul McCartney, Jack Bruce and Chris Squire.  When it comes to vocals, I like a more mellow sound – David Crosby, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne and the Finn brothers (Crowded House).  Editor’s note, let’s have a further indulgence in the form of Mr Blackmore:

If I had to single out one musician, however, it would be none of the above.  I would choose Stephen Stills. He has a very distinctive guitar and singing style, and wrote some really great songs – “For What it’s Worth”, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”, “Love the One You’re With”, and “As I Come of Age” stand out.  His solo albums from the mid-70s are also greatly under-rated. Crosby and Nash were great, but Stills gave them an edge.

How has rock music inspired you, and made an impact on your career?

I can’t imagine a world without music, and most of the music I listen to is rock music or some variant of it.  Great rock music is the combination of individual virtuoso performances and the ability to work together as a band.  This is one of the key lessons I take away from the rock world for my career.  The combination of individual ability and team effort is at the heart of success not just in the world of music, but also in business and politics.  For the dominant and mercurial lead guitarist, read the overbearing CEO or Prime Minister who does not acknowledge and recognise the views of his/her colleagues.  All are ultimately doomed – notwithstanding their ability.

To succeed in rock music, you need to be good, but you also need to be surrounded by other good musicians and be able to work constructively and creatively with them for the good of the band.  When this works well, great music results.  That is the approach I find works well in the business context too.

Andrew Sentance has his own website: www.sentance.com and a personal blog:. He also contributes to the PwC economics blog: and is very active in sharing his views with the print and broadcast media.   He can be found on Twitter at @asentance

Related blogs – see my posts on meetings with Evan Davis of Dragon’s Den / BBC Radio 4 and Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

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