Memorable Album Covers: “Exile on Main St.”

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Whenever I see the cover of Exile on Main St., I think of my courtship with Janice Deal in the late 1980s. We learned about each other through our vinyl collections during that time. Jan's Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel albums gave me a glimpse into her poetic artistry that ...

The Case for Remixing Your Logo

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

For most brands, corporate logos are protected and revered. A business such as Disney invests substantial energy and budget into making its logotype a consistent expression of its brand essence, and for good reason: especially in the age of Instagram and Snapchat, a logotype is like a totem that instantly ...

Millennials and Old People Rule the Music World

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Music fans have always reserved the right to identify with the popular artists of their time while harshly judging the tastes of the generations that follow them. Those who came of age during World War II had Frank Sinatra, and they recoiled in horror when children of the 1950s embraced Elvis ...

Keith Richards: The Old Man Keeps Growing

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Keith Richards is a crotchety old man. He hates new music. He gives the stink eye to some famous old music, too (he told Esquire that Sgt. Peppers was "rubbish"). He told Billboard recently that he seldom gets out anymore at age 71, and he ignores modern technology. But he's ...

“Sticky Fingers”: How an Album Cover Defined the Stones

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Some album covers are memorable because they perfectly express an artist's image (or brand, if you will) as well as music. Such is the case with Sticky Fingers, the 11th American studio album of the Rolling Stones. Sticky Fingers, newly re-issued to celebrate its 44th anniversary, created controversy in 1971 ...

Visual Storytelling in Today’s “All Access” Era

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Access. It's the most valuable currency of celebrity journalism. Photojournalists Bob Gruen and Ken Regan built celebrated careers by getting access to coveted rock stars such as Madonna, whom Ken Regan photographed as she was about to become a star. Regan, who passed away in 2012, was welcomed into the ...

My Cold-Weather Rock and Roll

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Winter has tightened its grip on Chicago. On a Friday afternoon in early December, the temperatures feel like they are dropping by the minute. The sun escapes the chill of the day early, leaving behind long shadows and an occasional gust of cold wind. This is the time for staying ...

The Musician and the Brand

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

This is a tale of two artists: a rock legend and a musician who has probably been off your radar screen for years. The legend wants your money. The musician wants your ear. First, consider the musician: Boz Scaggs. Remember Boz Scaggs? You know -- the guy who gave us radio-friendly ...

5 Marketing Lessons from the 121212 Concert for Sandy Relief

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Rock concerts for causes have come a long way since George Harrison and Ravi Shankar organized the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 and raised $250,000 to help refugees in war-torn Bangladesh. The Concert for Bangladesh was an untelevised rock show (actually two of them) witnessed by 40,000 people in Madison ...

It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll and Technology for the Rolling Stones

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

How do rock and roll bad boys stay relevant when they grow older and less dangerous? The Rolling Stones no longer symbolize youthful rebellion and decadence as they did 50 years ago. So like a smart business that refines its brand, the Stones now focus on one core asset: their rock ...