A little musical interlude

People in my trade – direct marketing – know two infallible ways to get people’s attention: first, appeal to their greed, and second, flatter them.

Doesn’t that say a lot about human nature? Sad but true.

If you also say something that is undeniably true that does a lot for your credibility. So I’m sure you won’t mind being told you are a part of a small but immensely discerning and cultured minority.

Does “discerning and cultured” sound like you? Of course it does – which is why I am sure many of you are music lovers. If so, keep reading, because although I have absolutely no musical talent, two of my sons and one daughter have.

The music business is a dreadful one, and you need a lot of luck, so now one of this trio has quit trying to make a living at it full time, but the other two are still at it. One of them, Nick, makes most of his living doing a remarkably good impression of Paul McCartney. He works with so many tribute bands here and in France and Germany that I can’t keep up with him, but he also writes pretty good songs. By pretty good, I mean good enough to get recorded.

The one who has done best so far is Martina, who came round last Sunday night for dinner with her friend Raphael and her daughter Mina. Raphael runs a music festival in Switzerland, which seems to me a pretty good way to make a living. Better than what I do, anyhow.

Martina is rather big on creative gestation and has been labouring away forever on her new album, which I’m listening to as I draft this.

(The picture at the top is Nick and Martina singing at my birthday party last year. And by the way, if you want an amazingly cheap, very good photographer, I’d recommend the lady who took that – and about 300 others.)

There is a lot of agonising going on about the best running order for the album. In fact even I have been asked for my views, since although I have absolutely no ability I have bags of opinions. But I ask you, seriously, how can she fail with a producer like Danger Mouse? What an excellent name – and he seems to have quite a penchant for odd names, as he worked with Cee-Lo on the Gnarls Barkley album.

Martina’s album sounds excellent to me. Mind you, so did the last one- and it got excellent reviews; but the label promoted it, as far as I can see, by osmosis. Never very effective. But then record firms live in an alternative world, don’t they? They spend all their time looking for something that sounds like the last big thing rather than the next one.

A bit like young Mr.Cameron, come to think of it.

About the Author


In 2003, the Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton one of 50 living individuals who have shaped today’s marketing.

He has worked in 55 countries with many of the world’s greatest brands. These include American Express, Audi, Bentley, British Airways, Cisco, Columbia Business School, Deutsche Post, Ford, IBM, McKinsey, Mercedes, Microsoft, Nestle, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Visa and Volkswagen.

Drayton has helped sell everything from Airbus planes to Peppa Pig. His book, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, out in 17 languages, has been the UK’s best seller on the subject every year since 1982. He has also run his own businesses in the U.K., Portugal and Malaysia.

He was a main board member of the Ogilvy Group, a founding member of the Superbrands Organisation, one of the first eight Honorary Fellows of the Institute of Direct Marketing and one of the first three people named to the Hall of Fame of the Direct Marketing Association of India. He has also been given Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Caples Organisation in New York and Early To Rise in Florida.


  1. Anonymous

    Hi Drayton

    The music business is certainly a strange place that is developing quicker than the record companies can keep up with.

    But if your daughter has hooked up with someone who can list Cee-Lo (yes, even this middle-aged Dad has heard & likes Gnarls Barkley) in his CV then she must be pretty good.

    Are there any YouTube clips to look at?

    She might want to look at http://www.sellaband.com and http://www.slicethepie.com as alternative ways of gaining a fan base & showcasing her talents?

    Otherwise she justs need a marketing genius to come up with a quirky, viral story – anyone come to mind?


  2. Music is rhythmic. It starts your feet tapping. Umpteen chemicals are probably released in your head when you hear a tune you like.

    Even if you state that it aint to your taste, the same chemicals are probably released. And because you don’t want to admit you like the tune, you resist tapping hyour foot to the tune.

    My brother is musical. He has produced bands. Solo artists. And he has originated sound tracks for films we’ve all seen.

    But at a family occasion, he isx my brother. And he can play a guitar. And everyone loves a sing-song after they’ve had a drink or two.

    To have musical talent in your family is a gift. They are a gift. they almost feel more special. But the people who tap their feet are special too.

    The gifted need an audience.

  3. John F.


    I've got friends in the music biz (not the influential side, alas). Danger Mouse is a great hookup, indeed. Lots of talent. Same goes for your daughter. 

    Meanwhile, you hit the trouble with the music industry on the head. They may sometimes promote one or two acts well, but they habitually ignore the rest. 

    This might partly be to the number of aspiring greats, but plenty also has to do with music insiders who have long since forgotten what “good” means. This is why there's so much talent out there without any recognition.

    My wife sings opera and sings it well, but it's the same on the classical side as it is elsewhere. There's a dearth of promotional talent out there. 

    Your daughter is lucky to have you, though, in her corner. Lots of musicians on the contemporary side are finding that what they can't get the execs to do for them, they can sometimes do better for themselves, with a combination of “old school” direct-response style appeals and the new reach of new media. 

    Best of luck to your daughter!

  4. draytonbird

    Small world. Dangernouse worked with my other daughter, Martina Topley-Bird. ________________________________

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