Ten Awesome (Fictional) Rock Stars


Your brand – your business – is really just a story.

Your customers buy into your story.

Whole Foods customers buy into a story of sustainable farming and renewable energy.

Jeep customers buy into a story of exploration and the path less-traveled.

And your customers buy into your story… if you are willing to share it.

What makes you unique?

What about your brand makes your customer’s heart sing?

What do you do that nobody else does, or at least nobody else does as well as you?

Most businesses are afraid of their unique story. They want to be just like everyone else. Stop!

Don’t be afraid to share your story!

Stories rock.

Some amazing rock ‘n’ roll has been made by bands that are just stories. Think about some of the great fictional rock stars.

Here are 10 of my favorite fictional rock stars… bands and singers who never actually existed, but made awesome music anyway…

10. Atticus Fetch rocked the TV show Californication this past season, played by British actor Tim Minchin. Brilliant.

9. Infant Sorrow, led by Aldous Snow played by Russell Brand in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek. Russell was apparently inspired by Tim Minchin’s on-stage portrayal of an aging rock star.

8. Stillwater was the band that teenaged rock correspondent Cameron Crowe went on the road with in Almost Famous. Classic movie, classic music. Even with my 30 years in music, I had to look up Stillwater and see if they were a real act. They were that spot-on.

7. Jack Black led The Sonic Death Monkeys, under various temporary names (including Kathleen Turner Overdrive), in the movie High Fidelity. Few white guys have ever done as solid a version of “Let’s Get It On”. For that matter, few black guys have managed the feat.

6. The Commitments version of “Mustang Sally” still stands up today. An entire generation of music fans discovered that song, and soulful rock ‘n’ roll in general, through The Commitments movie.

5. The Soggy Bottom Boys, led by George Clooney, sang “A Man of Constant Sorrow”. The real singer was actually a roots-country singer named Dan Tyminski.

4. Scrantonicity, a police cover band, was led by Kevin Malone on The Office. Well done. It was nice to see the perpetually picked-on Kevin win one for a change.

3. Mark Wahlberg stepped in to replace the departed lead singer of Steel Dragon and instantly became a Rock Star. Other members of the fiction band Steel Dragon included Zakk Wylde and Jason Bonham… no wonder the music sounded so damn good.

2. I grew up in the 80s, so John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band had nothing on Eddie & The Cruisers. Even if Cafferty was the real-life band behind the classic “On The Dark Side”, it’ll always be Eddie’s song to me.

1. You can debate the previous nine, but there’s no debating #1. Ladies and gentlemen, This is Spinal Tap.  The subject of Ron Reimer’s early 80s mockumentary about an old British hard rock band on the comeback trail is a classic move. And Spinal Tap remains the ultimate rock band that never actually existed. Turn it up to 11!


Uncategorized 151 Comments

Brands With A Cause: Its Not About You


Oklahoma City tornado picture from

Oklahoma City tornado picture from


The images are horrific, and today all of us are thinking about the lives lost and lives impacted by nature’s fury… and holding our loved ones a little closer.

On Monday, dozens of devastating tornadoes ripped through the midwest. In Oklahoma in particular, the storms caused massive damage and loss of life.

When tragedy strikes a community, businesses often feel a responsibility to help.

But there is a fine line between altruistically doing good and opportunistically capitalizing on pain and suffering.

Smart brands simply do the right thing.

They give. They help those in need first. They don’t look for credit. They say “how can we help?”

Weak businesses can’t help themselves.

They give conditionally. They help themselves first.  They seek out credit and remind everyone of what they did. They say “look at us!”

Bob Geldof didn’t organize Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” in order to make his own band more famous, make himself rich, and earn himself a knighthood. He did it because he was genuinely moved when he saw a TV news report about starving children in Ethiopia, and he felt that he and his colleagues in rock ‘n’ roll could do something about it.


* Only involve your brand in causes that you are personally passionate about. Bob Geldof was genuinely moved, so he acted on his passion.

* Find out what the community needs and act accordingly. Geldof raised money, because that is what made an immediate difference. Every crisis is different. In post-Katrina New Orleans, things like ice and drinking water were in short supply. Don’t give people things they don’t need just because it suits your business… it just makes things more difficult.

* Move quickly, when the need is most dire. Bob Geldof saw the BBC report on African famine in late October 1984, and within weeks he had organized a recording session with the biggest stars in UK music. The song was recorded and produced on November 25 and 26, and released on November 29, 1984 in order to reach the Christmas market to raise the most money possible in the fastest time.

* Involve your employees, friends, or colleagues. Turn your team into your community’s team. Bob Geldof brought together the people from his personal network, which happened to be the who’s-who of British rock music. Your friends and co-workers are equally valuable.

* Downplay your role. Simply show that you care, and people will notice that you care. Bob Geldof took a relatively small role in the Band Aid song, preferring to give key singing roles to more famous people like Simon Lebon of Duran Duran, Bono from U2, and George Michael of Wham!.

Spare a thought, donation, prayer, or helping hand to those struggling to rebuild their lives after this disaster.


Band Aid, Bob Geldof, bono, Duran Duran, George Michael 150 Comments

The 80:20 Rule of Rock ‘n’ Roll

rocker with guitar

It is called the Pareto principle, the notion that 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes.

It is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of the land in his country was owned by 20% of the people.

The Pareto principle has been applied to all aspects of our lives, and it generally holds up.

80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers.

80% of your complaints are generated by 20% of your customers.

80% of the fun you will have will be with 20% of the people you know.

80% of your favorite team’s points will be scored by 20% of the players.

Most importantly, 80% of your success comes from 20% of what you do each day.

And it is an vital principle to remember, because it gives you pause to eliminate certain things from your life.

If you can devote more time to your 20% that generates your 80%, you can increase the value of your 80%.

The Pareto principle applies to rock ‘n’ roll.

80% of an band’s sales are driven by 20% of the band’s songs. That’s why bands release “singles” to radio. An album of ten songs will often have two singles the generate album sales.

When that ratio goes up, you have blockbuster albums like Thriller by Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.

Think carefully about how you spend your time and energy.

If you want more success, focus on the 20% of what you do that generates your 80%.

You can get 80% of the good stuff by reading 20% of the marketing book Brand Like a Rock Star: Lessons From Rock ‘n’ Roll To Make Your Business Rich and Famous.  Click here to order it now with one click on Amazon.



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The Evil Genius of Abercrombie & Fitch

a and f ad

Roger Daltry sang “I hope I die before I get old” in the song “My Generation”. It was 1965. The outcry was intense.

Now Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mark Jefferies says A&F only targets thin, “cool, good looking people”, and the same kind of outcry ensues.”We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends,” Jeffries told “A lot of people don’t belong in our clothes, and they can’t belong. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”

Jefferies might be an asshole. His company might represent all that is wrong with our vain society. But he’s not stupid when it comes to building a well-defined brand.

Smart brands clearly state their core values and adhere to them every single day.

Weak brands state their core values ambiguously, or even worse… don’t have any core values at all.

Jefferies has pissed-off and alienated plenty of people with his comments.

When a company tells you don’t want your business, why are you pissed off?

He doesn’t want your business, so don’t give him your business. I know I won’t. As a 42 year-old bald guy, he doesn’t want me. Fair enough.

The very smart Erika Napoletano said it well on her YouTube channel yesterday. “This is what brands should be doing,” she said, while eloquently calling him a “douche nozzle”.

Chik-Fil-A has clearly stated they are against same-sex marriage. How anyone could be against equality is beyond me, but I applaud them for having values… even moronic ones. I won’t be caught dead buying anything from them, and that’s my prerogative. You make your choice. Vote with your wallet.

On the other hand, Whole Foods clearly supports sustainable farming and renewable energy. If you don’t think those issues are worth the extra cost of food at Whole Foods, go somewhere else to buy your groceries. Do what you want. Vote with your wallet.

To be a rock star brand, you need to have values.

Just stand for something. Anything. Have the balls to say it clearly so that everyone understands what you’re all about.

After all, Roger Daltry didn’t sing “I hope I get to feel young and energized for a really long time.”

Smart brands have clearly stated values that they adhere to every single day, whether you like those values or not.

As Gene Simmons once said, channeling George Bernard Shaw, “the fastest way to success is to offend as many people as possible at once.”


Abercrombie & Fitch, Chick-Fil-A, The Who, Uncategorized, Whole Foods 180 Comments

The Generalist Versus The Specialist



The General Practitioner – the everything doctor –  makes a healthy living.

But the Cardiologist – the heart doctor – pumps around $500,000 a year.

The Orthopedic Surgeon – the bone and joint surgery doctor – can carve up to $800,000 a year.

And don’t even ask about the high-end Plastic Surgeon – the vanity doctor – who can use our obsession with youth to implant millions into their account every year.

See a trend?

When you do something general, you get a general reward.

When you do something special, you get a special reward.

What makes you special?

Think about the one thing that you do insanely great that:

A) very few people do as well as you,

B) is in high enough demand to make a living from, and,

C) you love doing.

When you can find one answer that satisfies all three of those questions, you’re on the right path.

The generalist is a cover band, a great musician who plays the same stuff everybody else plays. He is entertaining and fun to listen to, but it doesn’t last.

The specialist is a rock star, creating something that nobody else has created before… and something nobody else can recreate the way she does.

Be special.

Be rare.

Be different.

Be a rock star.

Have you read Brand Like a Rock Star? Click here and order it now in digital download or paperback. I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy the stories from rock history, demonstrating how you can use the lessons of rock legends like AC/DC, Bob Marley, KISS, Bob Dylan, and ABBA to build a more profitable brand.


Uncategorized 878 Comments

Give A Little Bit: How The Grateful Dead Built a Tribe By Giving Away Their Music


I’m very excited to share with you a chapter-in-progress from the new book tentatively titled Rock Your Career.

The book is similar to Brand Like a Rock Star in that it examines the strategies of rock legends, but instead this time it applies them to your personal brand and career development. The goal of the book is to help you build a powerful personal brand, directly leading to more happiness, success, and reward in your career.

Here is a link to the chapter called “Give a Little Bit”:

Each chapter shares a story from rock history, followed with real world examples of this concept at work, and wraps up with a five song playlist based on the band or topic discussed.

I would love to hear your feedback.

You can email and let me know what you think.

This summer will be spent editing, with a goal to have the book published late this year or early next.

Thanks for the support… for reading, sharing, discussing, and providing your valued input.



Grateful Dead, personal branding 154 Comments