Business-and-music-related observations and comment.

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The running game.

After twenty-five years I guess it's time I come out of the closet on this one: I was an independent candidate for United States President for 1984.

It began as a sociological experiment of sorts, to test the premise that any American citizen can—and has the right to—run for US President, even a rock musician. In fact, I immediately discovered that it doesn't cost a dime to run for national office. (It costs a tad more to win, however.)

It proved easy to grab media attention for my "Everyman candidacy" as the news corps desperately pursued any storyline it could find in an otherwise tediously dreary campaign, dominated by the likes of incumbent Ronald Reagan and challenger Walter Mondale.

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It was forty years years ago today.

On September 26, 1969 The Beatles released their much-heralded Abbey Road album, which captured their final recording session together (though earlier recordings were later released on Let It Be).

Whoda' thunk The Beatles would still dominate the music news four decades later?

Two weeks ago their video game "The Beatles: Rock Band" was released to much hoopla and frenzied demand the same day that their digitally re-mastered catalog hit the street, propelling them onto the record charts (yawn) again.

The following week five of the ten best-selling albums in the US were Beatles albums. (I thought I was having an acid flashback to April 1964 when they had the top five singles in the Billboard Hot 100.)

How is it possible that every product release by The Beatles—even the Love soundtrack from Cirque du Soleil a few years back—can crash the party, gobble market share, and grab headlines? Is it because The Beatles were that good or because the contemporary competition is that weak? (Try both.)

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Nurture the freaks and geeks.

This weekend marks the anniversary of a significant event in my young life. In August 1972 my rock group, the Band of Angels (originally known as The Berries, which I mentioned in a previous post), was performing a weekend gig at the Flying Jib, a legendary rock club in Redondo Beach, California.

The Jib was a step up in quality from the half-empty beer bars we had just played in the San Fernando Valley. (On a slow night in the Valley we would record our first set on our trusty Teac reel-to-reel tape recorder then play the tape over our PA system instead of performing live for our second set, just to see if people noticed. They didn't.)

But a Saturday night at the Jib was different and we rose to the occasion, showcasing original tunes in front of a packed audience that was enthusiastic, appreciative, and thoroughly hammered.

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High marks for Generation Z.

Last week I had a terrific opportunity to give a short talk for ninety-one aspiring leaders—ages thirteen to eighteen—at Bentley College, just outside Boston. The participants were attending a series of programs offered by Lead America, an impressive youth leadership organization whose goal is to develop 'leaders for life'.

It was also my first occasion to try Keynote—Apple's slide show application—for my 'Business Lessons From Rock' presentation. (Keynote is amazing. More on that in a future post.)

Some of my talk—usually aimed at a corporate audience—was a bit of a challenge for the younger kids to grasp, but by the end they all understood how they were 'branding' themselves at school everyday and were able to identify those brands—'hard worker', 'fashion queen', 'super jock', etcetera.

They also understood they could be stuck with a default brand (not of their choosing)—'unreliable', 'always late', 'slacker', etcetera—if they weren't mindful of their actions. I'm happy to report that even thirteen-year-olds get the implications of 'brand you'.

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Finally going green.

After hearing Green Day's latest album 21st Century Breakdown—an ambitious follow-up to their critically acclaimed punk opera American Idiot—I've at-last seen the light!

Years ago I wrote off their material as manic-simplistic, but American Idiot—which is now being made into a Broadway musical—woke me up, and 21st Century Breakdown won me over.

Green Day is one of the few '90s bands that has stood the test of time in two simple ways: they're still together (a true accomplishment these days for a '90s band) and their records keep getting stronger.

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