Rock & metal as a business? New book about the possible cure for today’s economy.

Would you like to read about the possible cure for today’s companies? In the biggest newspaper here – Bergens Tidende I found an interesting article about the rock / metal band which can be taken as a raw business model for the Norwegian industry.

(I found the text thanks to Ivar’s Bjørnson FB post, to be true)

THE BANDS: Kaizers Orchestra, Honningbarna, Katzenjammer, Hellbillies, Ole Ivars, Enslaved, Oslo Ess and Seigmen.

My photo with Ivar taken in Cracow 2010

Ståle Økland – a trend analyst – wrote an extraordinary book: it is a rock documentary and a business manual in one. He spent 2 years wandering with eight rock and metal bands to write this document. On the same bus, with the same food and drinks – he sweat with them, slept in the same places and had fun with them. His observations reveal a Norwegian rock band as a very good running company of people equipped with equally rights without typical corporate leadership patterns and with one single target – creation.

The band is described as a unite force of co-owners and self- motivated people. You may say – an ideal picture of a company.

Let’s read some from this article about the book “Tenk som en rockestjerne” (“Think like a rock star”):

“Learn from rock bands – Norwegian industry can learn from rock bands how to work hard and can copy the structure of them.”

“There were many codes I had to discover. I wanted to take the reader backstage, but with a kind of glasses that ordinary people have, says the author.”

About the book itself:

“Although you can’t say it is an ordinary business book.

– They all are terribly boring, and are saying pretty much the same sort of things on and on.”

Responsibility and leadership
“The author experienced large differences when he compared band structure with the structure of the industry.

– In classic business, you have also the classic mind set of the charismatic leader who will go forward and motivate others. Here I came into the environment where people actually are very self-motivated. There is no leader who stands on a chair and says “come on, boys – now we shall succeed.”.

Janove Ottesen from Kaizers Orchestra – how the band is voting.

“- Janove calls himself a snug dictator. But still – the band is organized as a corporation with equal ownership of interests. So you have Rune, who is the drummer. He’s working with finance and project management. Terje Vinterstø takes care of the visuals, and Geir Zahl works closely together with Janove on song writing. If you come backstage and see how this works, you see that it is a very flat structure.

No typical leadership?
Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson – “To be a frontman is a function. Not necessarily as equal as working with finances and visual concept but at least as highly respected.

Here the band is owned by all members and that is the major difference if you compare this culture with industry, believes Økland.

– In an ordinary business there is someone who owns, while others work for him. You are on an hourly rate. If you don’t – you also do not need a leader who must tell you that you have to work.”

Rocker to admire
“For Bjørnson from Enslaved, art is the main motivation to be involved in music.

– Why can’t you use that if you are working in a bank? Why a company can’t take advantage of these techniques?

– When I was traveling, I met the bus driver and people from the crew who were just as motivated and dedicated as the band members. I think it’s all about following the dream – finding what you want to keep doing. I admire many of these rockers. I see many of young people there: they work more than their peers, they earn less, and still they are there –  traveling with the band to some pubs where only thirty men come to watch the show.


I wish this book was available in English as well to find out more.

Title: Tenk som en rockestjerne

Book by Ståle Økland (text) and Paal Audestad (photo).
The authors followed eight Norwegian bands for two years and attended approximately 200 gigs.
These bands were: Kaizers Orchestra, Honningbarna, Katzenjammer, Hellbillies, Ole Ivars, Enslaved, Oslo Ess and Seigmen.
The goal was to find out how rock stars think, and what we can learn from them.

MY THOUGHTS: This book can be quite interesting. It shows music (more or less extreme) from… let’s say more conventional for the business side. I have watched the metal musicians for many years, read quite lot of underground zines in the ’90 / ’00 and one I can say – metal business is HUGE. It is a big body (or corpse, if you prefer 😉 ) where many cells are operating quite independently. You have bands which are 100% concentrating on doing their music for few fans around. They treat their own art as a hobby. But still – they are committed to it. They can spend every free minute to work on their stuff, creating music, covers, etc. On the other side you may see well running music businesses, where the band, publisher (label), magazines, recording studios, managers, record shops, club / stadium owners are working in cooperation to have that thing called “rock going”. These are two sides of the same coin. And of course you have everything in between. And this has been working quite good for many years. Do you wonder how? Buy that book :]

SOURCE ===> Bergens Tidende

P.S. this is my first time I am translating something from Norwegian. So, if you find some errors – please write a comment!