FORTUNE Battle of the Corporate Bands is a partnership between NAMM (the trade association of the international music products industry), FORTUNE magazine, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The first music competition of its kind, the battle provides amateur, company-sponsored bands with the opportunity to step out of the conference room and celebrate their passion for making music.
To celebrate 10 years of the Fortune Battle of the Corporate Bands, we have asked several past participants to recount their fondest memories of the Battle. These collections of blogs will be posted on a monthly basis leading up to the Corporate Battle finals in October.
John Dodds of Air Products:
“All deep things are song. It seems somehow the very essence of us. Song: as if all the rest were but wrappages and hulls.” Wise man that Thomas Carlyle.
From an early age anyone who cares about music in the slightest remembers their first musical influence. For me it was the vibrant and unique Elvis Presley with “Return to Sender,” and as I left the comfort of my push chair for the heady years of prep school (in England) and through to junior and senior school, there were so many defining moments in my life inextricably linked to eagerly awaited releases of vinyl from bands that have defined the rock music landscape for generations.
We all have album tracks from school and college, dating tracks that have led to wedding tracks, through to kids’ birthdays and graduation tracks. Musical moments that transport us back in time and emotion.
A defining period for me was the advent of pirate radio in the UK in the 1960s, and the explosion of pop music that for the first time gained an outlet to be heard and celebrated. The British Invasion would never have happened without pirate radio, and the fashion and rich nightlife that accompanied the swinging 60s in London drew its inspiration from the music and musicians of the day.
All good things must come to an end, but they don’t with music. It evolves as we do and where the barrier with our parents was traditionally “that loud rock music,” much to the horror of our kids, we actually like their “stuff” and they even have a sneaking regard for some of that Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and the Doors.
But we do have to earn a living and so we go to work for companies to pay for our music, concerts, and sound systems. Strangely, many companies are slow to recognize the unifying and uplifting power of music for both employees and organizations, not to mention the talent that exists within. That talent either stays in and creates music behind closed doors, or goes out in the community to rock the Kasbah or sports bar.
Luckily I work for a company that gets it, and that had an out of ‘boogie’ experience 10 years ago. A chance reading of Fortune by senior executive Joe Kaminski, a gauntlet thrown down to long term employee Sal Nicrone, and an Air Products band was created, nurtured, and shipped out to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for the first Battle of the Corporate Bands in 2001.
When senior leaders see the value of creative diversity, magical things can happen and have happened for our band the Difference. They won the first Battle of the Bands competition and since that time, supported by senior leadership, they have travelled the country playing to communities, customers, employees and even the occasional analyst. Hundreds of appearances later, and hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for charities, the band remains as tight as ever. There have been some heartaches along the way with two members of the band, Barry Grow and Steve Eck, succumbing to cancer, but their memories live on as do the experiences of 10 years “on the road” for purchasing executive Joe Hilgar, advertising executive Ed McKendry, corporate services executive Sal Nicrone and customer support executive Jim Meyer who make up this great band.
Leading bassist Stanley Clarke has said that be believes that “music is the highest form of communication” and who would argue with that? Certainly not the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who provide the magnificent backdrop for the competition and who, together with Fortune magazine, provide the mechanism for corporate bands young and not so young to follow their dreams and those of their companies.
So here’s to 10 years of the Battle of the Bands competition, 10 years of the Difference and an eternity of music being our guiding light. To quote Friedrich Nietzsche, “Without music, life would be a mistake.”
13th Annual FORTUNE Battle of the Corporate Bands at
Are you a member of the Best Corporate Band in America? We have seen some of the best there are come through this competition! For the thirteenth year in a row, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is hosting a celebration of musicians who happen to have day jobs. More importantly, this event helps support the Educational Activities of the Rock Hall.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a nonprofit organization that exists to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music. It carries out this mission both through its operation of a world-class museum that collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets this art form and through its library and archives as well as its educational activities.
FORTUNE is the premier business storyteller, helping senior executives understand the complex business landscape while honoring their time outside the office. While the FORTUNE Battle is certainly a competition on stage, the real magic of this event is uncovering so many passionate artists who perform for the love of music.
Past winners include The Grove Valve Orchestra from Clif Bar in 2012, American PI from Ernst & Young, Shale Play from Chesapeake Energy, Strat 5 from Healthways, The Consumer Republic from Procter & Gamble, Soul Focus from American Century Investments, Cambridge Australia, PANTS! From McKinney, Negative Feedback from eBay, The Residuals from Banc of America Leasing, The Raving Daves of PeopleSoft and our inaugural winners, The Difference from Air Products and Chemicals. These bands include CEOs and forklift operators from Allentown to Alameda to Switzerland.
The finals of the FORTUNE Battle will be Sept. 28, 2013 at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, OH. There will be eight (8) finalists and it will be a two-step selection process that will include CD submissions followed by live regional qualifying. Regional competitions are tentatively scheduled to take place in New Jersey in June, Nashville in July and Los Angeles in August.
q NEW FOR 2013: All band members must be employees of the company.
q When submitting your entry for the competition, you must list the names of your band members and the position they hold at the company. If you are picked to compete in a regional competition and make it to the finals, you must compete in the finals with the same band members that played in the regional competition
q Your company should have at least 50 employees
q Nobody under the age of 21 will be allowed to play with any band
q Each band must submit a copy of a 3-song CD, a list of the names of each band member, the instrument they play and their position at the company. Send all of the above to: Steve Dobo -The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum – 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd. - Cleveland, OH 44114
q Submissions are due no later than March 1, 2013.
q There will be no entry fee for submissions. If your company is picked to play in a regional competition, there will be a $2,000 fee.
q Each band that successfully submits the entry materials by March 1, 2013 will be listed in a special ad dedicated to the Battle in FORTUNE Magazine
q Your submission should be the best audio quality you can deliver.
q By March 15, invitations to one of the three regional qualifiers will be sent to 18 bands. These 18 bands will be divided into three regional competitions tentatively scheduled for New Jersey in June, Nashville in July and Los Angeles in August.
q Selection will be conducted by a panel comprised of representatives from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
q Bands will be chosen based upon quality of musicianship and vocals. My suggestion is to send in the 3 songs you do the best. 99% of the entries are cover songs so we look for how well the song is covered. Vocals and musicianship are important so please send a good quality audio recording. Please make sure to include all contact info with the CD.
q The regional qualifying events will be daytime competitions with each band playing a 20-minute set to show their best stuff for the judges
q The top two (2) bands from each regional qualifier will make the Finals in September.
q There will be two wildcard selections when all the regional competitions are completed and those two wildcard bands will move on to the finals as well.
q The 8 finalists for the Battle Finals in Cleveland will be required to submit an entry fee payable to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum of $8,000 by September 1. Submission of the entry fee also serves as confirmation that each finalist adheres to the eligibility rules posted above. This entry fee entitles each band to:
o Listing in FORTUNE announcing the finalists for the 2013 Battle
o Coverage in a custom FORTUNE section about the Battle to appear in a December 2013 issue
o Entry for all band members and 1 guest to the Friday night Warm Up Party at the House of Blues
o VIP tickets for the Battle Finals Party (fully catered affair) on Saturday night at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
o Copy of the finals competition on DVD
o Exclusive gifts courtesy of the Rock Hall and the event sponsors
o Entry fee also entitles you to enjoy one of the most memorable experiences you have ever encountered!
Mailing address for submissions and event contact:
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Attn: Steve Dobo
1100 Rock and Roll Blvd.
Cleveland, OH 44114
Please email Lisa Vinciquerra, Rock Hall Production Manager, with any questions email@example.com