Cat on Copyright




Last winter guitarist Joe Satriani accused Coldplay of stealing portions of one of his songs for their hit “Vida La Vida”.Like post public claims of plagiarism, this one became a major music industry story.Even the most ardent Coldplay fan had to admit, when comparing the two songs, there was amazing similarity.


Now a new wrinkle has developed.


Legendary singer/songwriter Cat Stevens, now known as Yusaf Islam, has come forward suggesting that both songs are lifted from a section of his little-known and lengthy 1973 song “Foreigner Suite”.


Listening to the Cat Stevens song, and checking the calendar, it is clear that if anyone has a claim to the melody it is Stevens.The songs are remarkably similar!


The difference is that Cat Stevens has already stated that he has no plans to pursue legal action against either of them. Here’s what Cat Stevens told The Daily Express:


“They did copy my song, but I don’t think they did it on purpose. I have even copied myself without even knowing I have done it. I don’t want them to think that I am angry with them. I’d love to sit down and have a cup of tea with them and let them know it’s okay.”


Is that ever-so-sensible approach because Stevens, in his religious persona of Yusaf Islam, doesn’t have the desire for financial gain?


Or is it because he recognizes that over the course of nearly 40 years of pop music, these things can happen subconsciously?


Or is it that he wisely sees that the success of the Coldplay song only increases visibility for what was an obscure track from his own career?


In the digital age, great brands understand that sometimes stepping back and letting people reinterpret what you do makes a lot of sense.


Anime artists regularly use video and audio that is technically under copyright, and they create entirely new content.


Hip-hop musicians are notorious for lifting samples, sometimes quite lengthy ones, from old music to create entirely new content.


Some companies like Doritos have invited people to use their logo and brand to create home-made commercials.The viral impact was tremendous.


Countless extremely funny faux commercials on sites like You Tube lean heavily on established brands, including logos, jingles, and positioning statements. Amateur remakes of famous music videos have been downloaded millions of times and given new life to old forgotten songs.


Having your brand parodied, borrowed, or reinterpreted and distributed virally could very well be the best thing that ever happens to you.So before you call the lawyers when you see your logo on-line, step back and think about the potential good that could come of it.

Uncategorized 94 Comments

Michael Will Be Missed


We lost Michael Jackson today. There is no doubt that Michael’s musical brilliance was overshadowed in recent years by his personal and legal troubles, but there should be no question that Michael Jackson was a muscial genius whose music will influence music for generations to come.
It has been a while since his music was heard to any great extent on the radio. Changing musical tides, along with Jackson’s sea of troublesome publicity, made hearing songs from music’s biggest selling album in history a rarity.
Michael Jackson, in death, will live alongside Elvis Presley as an artist that changed the face of music. Like Jackson, Elvis Presley was a fading star when he passed away in 1977. His popularity had diminished. His troubles with drugs and his weight had made him the object of ridicule. Yet when he died, our world stopped. Suddenly Elvis was young again, vibrant and electric, and his music took on a fresh relevance that has never been lost since.
His legal and personal troubles aside, people will now begin to again appreciate Michael Jackson’s music. In the coming days and weeks, you will see sales and downloads of Michael Jackson songs spike. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Michael Jackson reach the top of the chart posthumously with re-released material.
Sometimes it takes losing something to fully appreciate it.
Being rare makes something valuable.
Sadly, that’s what it will take to generate a new interest in one of the greatest artists in music history. But that’s just “Human Nature”.
Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson 107 Comments

Hip Hop Storytelling

You don’t have to be a big fan of hip-hop music to recognize why it is so immensely popular and influential.

Hip-hop music is primarily poetry. It is contemporary urban poetry put to a beat.

Nothing that poets haven’t been doing for hundreds of years.

Telling your own story means sharing things that make you vulnerable. When you reveal fears, weaknesses, and dreams you open yourself up to criticism. Some people will inevitably say “who cares?” They are the minority. Ignore them.

But all of us have fears, weaknesses, and dreams. And we connect with others who share those experiences.

Take this song by Canadian hip-hop artist Classified. He reveals some pretty personal stuff in this song. It takes a lot of guts to sing the line he sings 2:45 in. Classified really puts himself out there in a highly personal and uncomfortable way.

I like the song. It is catchy and real. You can decide for yourself.

But like it or not, the lesson remains. If your brand has a story, it becomes human. It becomes memorable. It becomes remarkable.

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Bruce @ Bonnaroo


He’s only played one other festival in his long history of touring the world.
So why was 57 year-old Bruce Springsteen on stage at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on Saturday night in Tennessee?
Bruce can play any arena in any city on any given night and pretty much guarantee a sell-out crowd of fans who love his music, sing along to every song, and let him keep the profits.
So why did Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band choose to play the Saturday night slot at a festival known for appealing to a generation once-removed from the singer’s glory days?
Did Bruce want to introduce his music to a new generation of fans? I doubt it. Bruce doesn’t need a new generation of fans. He’s well aware that his days putting hits on the charts are long gone. He is still an extremely relevant artist, no question. But he won’t be sitting on the Top 40 chart alongside Lady GaGa and Pitbull any time soon.
Only Bruce knows for sure why he chose to play Bonnaroo, but I think there are a few answers.
* Bruce has something to say, and he probably sensed a great chance to say it to today’s civic-minded youth who value authentic messages like the ones in his songs. They may not rush out and download the entire Springsteen catalog, but they may walk out of the show feeling a sense of optimism and empowerment and community. At this point in Bruce’s career, that’s probably more important to him than a few dollars.
* The publicity surrounding Bruce Springsteen playing Bonnaroo was far greater than Bruce could have received playing any other venue that evening. When Bruce played the half time show at the Super Bowl earlier this year, the very fact that he performed in that kind of environment created significant talk.
* While not a likely venue for a Springsteen concert, Bonnaroo has a reputation for the eclectic. This year, Bruce shared the bill with a much-anticipated Phish reunion, Snoop Dogg, Merle Haggard, and Erykah Badu. So for the concert organizers, this probably wasn’t a big a stretch as it was for traditional Springsteen fans. Eclectic is part of their mission.
How does all of this relate to branding your business or product?
1. Do things for the right reasons, not neccessarily for profitable reasons, and profits will come. Bruce Springsteen played Bonnaroo to share his message at a time when thousands of receptive young ears were ready to hear it. Bruce sang about life in hard times and working together for the common good, messages that resonate well today. If the performance sells a few thousand downloads on iTunes, that’s just a nice bonus for Bruce.
2. Put your usual message in an unusual context, and people will notice. Bruce Springsteen has been playing live since the early 70′s, and he has been on tour across North America all year. But by playing his usual show in an unusual environment, he has once again gotten people talking. They notice. That’s incredibly powerful.
3. Align yourself with those whose needs match yours, and benefit from the collective power. Bonnaroo benefits from Bruce. Bruce benefits from Bonnaroo. Everybody wins. Who or what could you align yourself with to create mutual benefit?
CNN has a nice collection of Bonnaroo photos here. The Bonnaroo website also offers up a great gallery of photos and videos.
Bonnaroo, Bruce Springsteen, Erykah Badu, Lady GaGa, Merle Haggard, Phish, Pitbull, Snoop Dogg 138 Comments

What’s Your Story?

Life itself is just a collection of stories. Live each day with a plan to die at a ripe old age with a bunch of really cool stories, and my guess is that you’ll live a rich and happy life.

The most enduring songs are the ones that tell stories. Storytellers like Dylan and Springsteen create music that will last for generations because they tell stories.

Remember a little story about “Jack and Diane”? Two American kids growin’ up in the heartland.

“Sympathy for the Devil”. Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste.

“Imagine”. You could say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

“Sweet Child O’ Mine”. And wait for the thunder and the rain to quietly pass me by.

“Lightning Crashes”. The confusion that was hers, belongs now to the baby down the hall.

“Friends In Low Places”. Where the whiskey drowns and beer chases my blues away.

“In The Air Tonight”. I was there and I saw what you did, saw it with my own two eyes.

Like great songs, great brands tell stories.

Visit the website of Dyson vacuum cleaners, and you can read about the struggle James Dyson went through in order to bring his innovation to market. You’re instantly hooked.

The Apple story is a “David versus Goliath” plot against Microsoft. You can’t avoid it. Buy a Mac and you’re in the club.

Star Trek’s story isn’t just a story of the Starship Enterprise. It is the story of one man’s vision brought to the screen, cancelled, revived by the faithful, made into movies, and kept alive by the fanatical devotion of fans.

Tell your brand’s story. Use your website, your Twitter feed, your Facebook page, and your customer interaction to share your story with your customers. Allow them to be a part of your story, and you’ll build a lasting legacy.

Apple, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Friends In Low Places, Imagine, In The Air Tonight, Jack and Diane, James Dyson, Lightning Crashes, Star Trek, Sweet Child O' Mine, Sympathy For The Devil 923 Comments

The New Rules


Last winter I had the pleasure of watching the Foo Fighters play to a packed arena from a luxury suite. The suite was at the far end of the arena, leaving me a clear view of thousands of fans and the stage directly at the other end of the rink.
When the band stepped on stage, the arena exploded in flashes as cameras went off from every angle. From the opening notes to the final encore, all around the arena you could see people holding up cell phones, Blackberrys, iPhones, and digital cameras. What was once unheard of – recording a concert – has now become the norm.
Back home after the show, my ears still ringing, I went on-line and did a search on YouTube of Foo Fighters with the date of the concert. More than a dozen videos had already been posted from that night’s show, only a few hours after it ended! In fact, the date stamps on them indicated some of them had been posted moments after the song finished. People were feeding their Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and YouTube libraries directly from the concert floor!
What’s the lesson for today’s brand-builders?
1. The conversation is instantaneous. Mess up, and the word will spread in seconds. Do something great, and the same thing will happen. Instead of the old “and they’ll tell two friends” cliche it is now “and they’ll tell their 480 Facebook friends”.
2. The conversation is happening, with or without you. In the old word, the person with the money controlled the message. If I could buy enough advertising, I could convince customers of my trustworthiness. And as a customer, it was nearly impossible to be part of that one-way dialogue. Today new rules apply. The customer can start the dialogue on Facebook,,, or any other site. And even if you don’t want to take part, that conversation is going to happen. “No comment” no longer works.
3. The old rules don’t apply, and if you try to apply them you’ll fail. Attempting to stop people from recording a concert today is impossible. Almost every cell phone has a camera in it. You can’t stop people from taking pictures and recording concerts. So new rules apply, and if you choose to live by them you’ll profit. Bands who encourage their fans to record, share, and discuss their concerts are the ones who get it. These are the bands who create forums, share set lists, Twitter their thoughts, and drive on a two-way street. Be like them and you’ll benefit.
Uncategorized 1,017 Comments

Engaging Your Fan Like A Rock Star


Women used to throw their panties at Tom Jones because he engaged them in a meaningful way, right? But there wouldn’t have been quite as much polyester all over the stage of Tom had not connected with them.
Rock stars connect with their fans emotionally, resulting in amazing levels of devotion.
One example is Pearl Jam, who recently reissued their classic album “Ten”. Pearl Jam has done a great job of connecting with their fans in a meaningful way, and I’ve blogged about it in the past. Their innovative opinions on touring, Ticketmaster, fan bootlegs, and the environment helped change the slow-to-adapt music industry as the digital age dawned.

To help promote the reissue of their classic album “Ten”, the band created The idea appears to be to engage fans and get them excited about the reissued tracks.

I give Pearl Jam full credit for attempting to engage their audience.
But I’m a Pearl Jam fan, and I am reasonably computer-savvy. My age and gender puts me pretty much dead-center on the Pearl Jam demographic target. Yet I have to admit that I had no idea what I was supposed to do when I landed on this website and even less of an idea of what the payoff was supposed to be.
Check it out, and let me know if I’m just missing something. Maybe I’m older than I think I am.
The point is that while engaging your customer is important, engaging them in a way they can easily grasp and understand is even more important.
So when you take on an innovative conversation with your customer the way Pearl Jam did with this project, think about a few
things first:
* Make the payoff easy to understand. If I don’t see any immediate benefit, I’m not going to explore the conversation any further.
* Don’t push the technology too far beyond your customer’s level. It is cool to be ahead of the curve, but the moment you get “too cool for the room” you are in danger of losing them quickly.
* Don’t be afraid to try something new! While I might think this particular Pearl Jam venture missed the mark, it is still pretty cool. It got my attention. It made me think. Most of the time, trying something new beats doing nothing at all.
Pearl Jam 112 Comments