Growing Old Disgracefully

The majority of people reading this article – especially LinkedIn readers – will surely be in employment, working for a firm. It’s still the dominant employment mode.

And like younger readers, I was once wedded to my office job, living its day-to-day requirements and being implicitly signed up to the idea that somehow it mattered. If I had been gainfully employed in certain vocations, like medicine or the police, then maybe it would be clearer to see the point of it, and to judge that one was making a small but useful contribution to the quality of society.

There is a justification for private sector jobs, those that have to do with making things and supplying services. They add to the sum of wealth of the firm, which makes profits, pays taxes and makes your country more successful in the world, which in turn pays for the police and health service. Yet at the micro level, it can be hard to see the point. Where’s the lasting value?

For example, I have worked for big British firms – the Woolwich Building Society, Brooke Bond Oxo, Dalgety Spillers and BET plc – and they have one thing in common. They no longer exist. All have been taken over by other firms whose management think that they too have an imperative to succeed and beat the other guy. It’s a playground game for grown-ups; and it’s often a zero sum game.

Unemployability

In my 40s, I came to the conclusion that I was more or less unemployable. I didn’t enjoy the challenge of having staff under my control, and I was told by a headhunter that I didn’t get a new senior position because I didn’t seem to be hungry enough. And she was right – I didn’t want it any more. I think more and more of us feel that way.

By my 50s, I was ready for a change of scene to Spain, and a late-flowering burst of self-employment under the banner of Bojingles. But there wasn’t a grand plan – it developed organically, starting with making radio jingles (which was fun but not nearly enough radio advertisers would pay for a proper song). That developed into scriptwriting and making many thousands of regular radio ads, becoming a voiceover, writing web copy and video scripts for all sorts of companies, and being a sales and marketing manager for hire.

It’s not just me – looking around at old school and university friends, many of them have latterly adopted a similarly ‘portfolio’ approach to business and are consulting, mentoring, working on specific projects for firms and then getting out again.

Men (and women) Dressing Badly

What does that mean to the outlook on life that I, and people like me, have? I think we are freer thinking, we can dress as badly as we did in the 70s, and we are outrageous or iconoclastic when the mood takes us – because we can be. We are growing old disgracefully: and we don’t care.

Alternative models of work such as freelancing have always existed, but they always tended to require a structure involving agencies and consulting firms who promoted the individuals’ skills. The big explosion of home working and true work freedom has of course been sparked by the internet, and latterly the availability of broadband. Without a good connection, we would not be as free in terms of geography or working time: neither of course would we be as free to air our (frequently disgraceful) views on social networks in between our work-related activity.

We hear a lot about the thrusting young things who are busy beavering away in Tech Cities, and it’s great to see them being entrepreneurial and creative. But I would remind you that we are an ageing population and (to quote the clothing retailer) ‘Old Guys Rule’. We’re not ready for carpet slippers and the Daily Mail – we are creating too. “We’re the old generation – and we’ve got something to say” as the Monkees* would now sing.

So when I co-write my first pop hit, and my mate Ian finishes his epic poem, and Richard gets his play put on at the National, we’ll be thumbing our noses at the idea of retirement or that it’s a young peoples’ world. Look out youngsters – we’re coming and we’ve got sharp elbows…

(*Monkees: note to younger readers – like One Direction but with better tunes)

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Bad Publicity? What’s That?

An age ago (some 20 years) I ran a company called Rediffusion Music, the last man standing of a once-proud media empire. We had survived and thrived due to our speciality of supplying background music to businesses – and whereas Musak then ruled the USA, we led the way worldwide.

Now of course the playing of music in public places was, and is, controversial – and it polarises opinion. I remember relishing the fact that I was having a business lunch on the next table to Michael Parkinson, in the full knowledge that he was one of our loudest critics.

Because of our high profile within the business, we were the prime target: the first port of call for any TV, press or radio researcher looking to put together a thought piece or a whole programme, usually attacking what we did. What was my reaction? ‘Sure, bring it on’. Thus it was that we had visits from Spike Milligan (for BBC1), Tony Parsons (Daily Telegraph) and John Walters (John Peel’s late producer, doing a Channel 4 documentary), as well as phone interviews with Nicky Campbell (Radio 1) and others.

Why put ourselves in the firing line? Because if any firm was going to be identified and demonised as the home of background (or foreground) music, I wanted it to be ours. Those businesses that knew the power of music would know where to come.

In the 90s we also started building the basis of instore audio advertising, firstly through tape systems and then via satellite. Now, many retail chains have their own ‘FM’ stations with personalised messages, ads and music programming.

The Birth of Bojingles

Although we were acquired by an American competitor, AEI, and I departed, I always hankered after getting back in to audio and advertising, and when my musician friend Rob Benham suggested we set up a company to make jingles, Bojingles was born (in 2006).

This is not a Rediffusion-style operation with over 100 people, this is a small, agile group made up of dedicated professionals, now specialising in –

  • Scriptwriting and storyboarding
  • Musical composition and production
  • Radio commercials and sung jingles
  • Themes for film, TV, games, hold music, etc.
  • Design for logos, brochures, websites and more

So we will probably never achieve the level of fame/notoriety (delete as desired) as the purveyors of ‘musak’, we still aspire – don’t we all – to at least be legends in our own lunchtime.

We most enjoy writing and creating music that people will want to actively hear and pay money for – see how we are doing on our Soundcloud and judge for yourself. And if you happen to be a music supervisor looking for theme music or a massive pop song, we’re always up for the challenge…

 

 

 

 

Enhancing video for websites

One trend that you are unlikely to have missed is the rush to supply moving images on websites. It not only looks good (if done well), it lengthens the average time people spend on site, which is what all website owners crave – most sites achieve less than a minute’s stay.

Informational videos can be made with a simple presenter reading to camera, or can be animated using various techniques, or shot as live action with conventional cameras – it all depends on your budget and the type of communication you want to make – what sort of impression do you wish potential buyers to be left with?

Where does Bojingles fit in? Well our core strengths are creative scriptwriting, writing and producing original musical soundtracks, and supplying great voiceovers. So increasingly we are called in to supply one or more of these elements by video production companies or by clients directly.

We do not normally offer to supply a full video production package – but we can and do renovate old videos that need a new lease of life, or to be edited to remove redundant material. We recently refreshed 3 old videos for the website and YouTube channel of an automotive accessories company, to their complete satisfaction.

So if you need professional help, particularly with the way your videos sound, we at Bojingles are like Mr Spock – all ears…