Author and keynote speaker Steve Jones takes his inspiration from the music industry.
Having spent over 30 years as an executive in music and media, noted author and speaker Steve Jones has taken his experiences with rock legends and turned them into a unique and fresh perspective on branding, marketing, corporate culture, and business success.
Can rock stars really teach lessons to businesses and entrepreneurs? Jones thinks so. “The entrepreneur and the musician aren’t really that different,” explains Jones. “They both begin with an idea in their head, and they carefully nurture it and bring it to life for the world to experience.” Jones cites Jeff Bezos and Dave Grohl, who both started new projects in their respective garages in the Seattle area during the summer of 1994. Bezos turned his idea into Amazon, and Grohl turned his idea into the Foo Fighters.
Countless valuable business lessons are embedded in music, from overcoming adversity like Fleetwood Mac famously did, to maintaining incredible consistency the way AC/DC has, to engaging fans in the manner of Taylor Swift. Those lessons form the basis for Jones’ two books, Brand Like a Rock Star and Start You Up. They also form the foundation of his sought-after concert-like keynote speeches.
In recent years, the topic of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) has taken on new importance for businesses, inspiring Jones to look to the music industry to demonstrate how embracing DEI can make a huge difference in the world. “Run-DMC and Aerosmith collaborated on “Walk This Way” in 1986, and that was the first time that rap and rock collided in a very public way,” says Jones. “The result was that hip hop music suddenly found a massive new mainstream audience, and Aerosmith simultaneously revived their career. That collaboration really changed the world.”
That isn’t the only time that racial barriers have been broken down by music. The legendary FAME Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, provides another example. The studio rose to prominence in the mid-60s, a time of deep racial unrest in America. But founder Rick Hall envisioned a place where Black and White musicians could work together in total harmony. Despite the turbulent times, FAME helped created some of the most progressive music of the era. Artists as diverse as Etta James, The Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett, and Lynyrd Skynrd recorded hits there. R&B artists collaborated with rock artists. Country artists worked with soul singers. Race didn’t matter. Somehow, this little studio in the deep south embraced diversity so passionately that they helped to create some of the biggest hits in music history.
Jones says that using music to illustrate a concept as universally important as DEI is vital because it adds energy to a topic seen by many as boring. “So many organizations provide dry online training because the treat DEI as a box that needs to be checked. But it can be so much more than that. When you show people the great things that have come from diverse talents coming together, you can actually get people excited about DEI and implementing change in their organization.”
Beyond being an author and worldwide keynote speaker, Jones continues to influence media and music on a daily basis as SVP/Brands & Content for Stingray, a global music, media, and technology company. In this role, Jones oversees over 100 radio brands across Canada. He has twice been named International Radio Programmer of the Year at the Worldwide Radio Summit in Los Angeles and he has led award-winning media brands in the US, Canada, and the Caribbean. Steve is represented for speaking engagements worldwide by Goodman Speaker Management at www.goodmanspeakermanagement.com. Steve can also be reached via his website at www.brandlikearockstar.com.