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Tips From The Rock n' Roll CEO No. 8: Go Ahead and Be Cool, But Be Smart, Too

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You know the latest thing that's SO cool? That cool show, that cool movie, that ever-so-cool singer?

There's a business plan behind the coolness.

Don't believe me? Check out this 1977 missive, written on Warner Bros. letterhead, sent from Warner A&R to regional reps regarding a then-up-and-coming band who called themselves the Sex Pistols.

2012-09-18-sexpistolsletter.jpg

There are four words given underline emphasis in the letter: Sex Pistols... and saleable. Punk rock! It's sneering and snotty and... saleable!

Well, duh.

Look, marketing may not be cool, but it's necessary. Any artist, whether it's a punk rocker, a jazz player, or even an edgy, modern visual artist (think Banksy), wants their work to be noticed. 'Saleable' may seem like an unseemly descriptor -- it's certainly not cool -- but it's a necessary element. Divorce it from connotations of 'revenue' and think of it instead as 'reach' -- the ability to get people interested. You want people to pay attention, right? Then it needs to be saleable. Such blunt and naked sales talk may be uncool, but if you want your art out there, it's something you need to think about (or pay people to think about).

Here's the point: a strong brand identity is up to you. Want to be 'cool'? It's in your hands. Think about what you want to message to potential customers. Form a plan. Write it down. IMPLEMENT that plan. And don't be afraid to modify the plan as you go along.

Look, I work in one of the least sexy parts of the music business, but have somehow garnered a reputation (even amongst people who play in bands for a living) as a bona fide rock star. This was no accident. When I first started Jingle Punks, I wrote down my ideas on how to market my new company. I actually still have the word doc that outlined how we wanted to market Jingle Punks. And looking back, I can see that by being clear about the company's brand identity and direction, my team had from the outset a light to guide the way.

Obviously, not everything needs to be cool. Toilet paper doesn't need to be cool; dish soap may not need to be cool (though these days, EVERYTHING does seem to strive for cool factor). But the point is, you need a plan. You need to market.

Go ahead and be as cool as you want. That's punk. But make sure your message is heard. Don't be afraid of the less glamorous work that's needed to push your brand forward. Being punk means taking control of your destiny. The Sex Pistols knew that... and their t-shirt sales and countless albums sold tell this story over and over again as each new generation discovers just how cool they were.

Jared Gutstadt is the co-founder and co-CEO of Jingle Punks, a global licensing and commercial music production company based in New York. Follow him at @jinglejared and follow Jingle Punks at @jinglepunks, and on Facebook.