News

Rob Rodell

I attended a lecture at Unisa on Thursday this week, which detailed the brand that was Freddie Mercury (well, he is still a brand actually - all good brands outlive their shelf lives). I was encouraged to attend by my academic supervisors at the University of Johannesburg, who had heard the lecture. They believe that this is a very strong topic for my D Litt et Phil degree, which is my doctorate in marketing communications.

When I first met with them, I told them, "I have to do this about music, or I will never finish it." They told me initially that they wanted me to do a study on socio-cybernetics, which involves systems theory, complexity theory, and change and chaos management (think The Butterfly Effect). It would no doubt have been a fascinating study, given that the music industry is forever changed when we get a new technology (vinyl, tape, CD, MP3). But it's not as sexy as doing a study on people as music brands.

When my supervisors attended the Freddie Mercury lecture, they immediately thought of me and what a great angle this would be for my doctorate. I am so thrilled that they did. This is the kind of topic that will get me out of bed in the morning, and I can use it to build my own music brand. For the first time this year, I am actually excited about my doctorate again - and I love it, because this study will force me to build my own music career, and I have no excuses not to.

As I wrote perviously, we can sometimes not see how the things in our lives are linked, and I used to wonder what marketing communications and music had in common in my life. I see it more clearly now than ever.

As I listened to the lecture on Freddie Mercury, I felt happy, sad, angry, relieved, encouraged, discouraged, envious, inspired. My dad loved Queen, so it also reminded me of him, and I felt a twinge of nostalgia and realised again that my life is so blessed and so perfect, simply because each and every experience I have had is on the way, not in the way, as my guru/mentor John Demartini reminds us.

I also loved what the speaker said, as I asked him after the lecture if I could set up an appointment with him to discuss my doctorate. I said I wanted to do a comparative study on the biggest music brands in the world (which would probably need to include The Beatles, Elvis, Michael Jackson, and of course Freddie Mercury). He said something amazing to me, which I will remember for the rest of my life: he said they all had the balls to be different. This reminded me that in order for me to become my star, I need to have the balls to be different. He said that Freddie Mercury had the courage to grow, and the courage to face the challenges of the music world, to become a brand. As Julie Andrews sings in The Sound of Music, "I am seeking the courage I lack."

But I am gettin' there, baby... Each and every day, I grow in confidence to move my music career forward, and I am loving the journey.