Some great reviews about Bill’s new book:
Book Review : What Makes Business Rock
How Bill Roedy built the world’s largest entertainment businesses.
David Abraham reads how Bill Roedy set about enthusing a generation to watch and work for his consciously internationalist channels.
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CNBC.com’s “Bullish on Books”
CNBC.com’s “Bullish on Books” included What Makes Business Rock in their roundup of best books for summer 2011 – Click here for more
It was the rock group Dire Straits who captured the mood of a generation in the song I WANT MY MTV with lyrics like, “Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it, Let me tell ya them guys ain’t dumb…”
Nope, them guys ain’t dumb; The ones with the blisters on their thumbs – or the ones who built MTV into a global brand.
The driving force behind MTV Networks International is Bill Roedy, a West Point grad who served as a Second Lieutenant in Vietnam and commanded three NATO nuclear missile bases in Italy.
As the former Chairman and CEO of MTV Int’l, Roedy led a musical invasion around the world and planted the MTV Flag in nearly 200 countries.
‘What Makes Business Rock’ is rockin’ good fun and full of actionable advice for execs who hope to plant their own flags in new frontiers with an entertaining twist – it’s chocked full of fabulous gossip, celebrities, rock idols, politicians, global leaders and of course loads of music.
22.06.11 | Gregor Hunter
Cold warrior made a killing with MTV
The Life: In What Makes Business Rock, Bill Roedy describes how MTV conquered the world and offers valuable lessons to any would-be globetrotting businessman. But you’ll want to read it for the pop stars.
Bill Roedy´s memoir of his time as head of MTV Networks International.
Q&A: Channelling issues for youth
Who is Bill Roedy? He is a graduate of Harvard Business School, who fought in Vietnam and then served in Italy as the commander of three Nato nuclear missile bases. He later worked as the head of MTV Networks International, He is a former chairman of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/Aids.
How did Roedy fight HIV/Aids? As it happens, a global TV channel is a pretty good platform to fight a global virus. Plus, he was self-interested: by the mid-1990s, about half of all new HIV infections were occurring among people aged 25 or younger. “I was being brutally honest when I described it this way: Left unchecked, AIDS will kill off MTV’s audience,” he writes.
I thought MTV was about rap videos and spiky hair. What good can a music channel contribute to social issues? Once it had established itself as a bellwether of taste among young people, MTV held a huge amount of sway among broadcasters, advertisers and governments. It could also engage effectively with young people. It might not be CNN, but Roedy ensured MTV kept young people switched on to issues from European neo-fascism to radical Islam.
Historians in the next century may look back with wonder at how a cable TV channel that started out playing only music videos ended up a titan of global media and a force in international politics.
But that’s the remarkable story told in Bill Roedy’s What Makes Business Rock: Building the World’s Largest Global Networks, a memoir of his time as head of MTV Networks International.
The erstwhile US commander of Nato nuclear missile bases in Italy charts how he arrived at MTV Europe in London with ambitions to gain a presence across the entire continent, something that had never been done before. And then, country by country, the brand became a fixture around the world.
To allay European suspicions that the former cold warrior was a tool of Yankee cultural imperialism, MTV Europe was ordered to promote the old continent’s artists and styles to create a distinctly different channel from its US parent.
The experience in former Soviet Union countries is almost the polar opposite.
Russia courted the channel in the 1990s as a loud symbol that it was open to foreign investment. Establishing MTV Arabia required a further change of tack, with Roedy seeking a personal audience with the mayor of Mecca to convince him that the channel would not offend Islam.
And there are more than enough tales of sordid parties with rock stars to satisfy even the hoariest old rock dinosaur.
Equally compelling is how Roedy spearheaded use of MTV’s unparalleled global reach to raise awareness about the spread of HIV/Aids.
There are a few errors of subediting, and it’s hard to believe that none of Roedy’s exploits are exaggerated. But that would be to miss the point. It’s a tremendous read, and more than worthwhile for anyone seeking to understand how to scale a business globally – or even just for music fans who have laid down their guitars and taken out the piercings.
Top 5: Finance and Law best-sellers
1 What You See Is What You Get: My Autobiography, by Alan Sugar
2 43 Mistakes Every Business Make … and How to Avoid Them: Your Expert Guide to Better Business, by Duncan Bannatyne
3 Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Stephen Dubner, Steven Levitt
4 The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis
5 Empire of the Clouds: When Britain’s Aircraft Ruled the World, by James Hamilton-Paterson
The Quote: Allowing MTV in Lithuania would be “a step towards democracy, an irrevocable step toward democracy”. Bill Roedy, in negotiations in 1990 with Lithuania’s then president Vytautas Landsbergis
The Hindu Business Line
03.07.11 | D. Murali
Television anywhere, anytime…
What is the future of television? How is the structure of television programming going to change? Will people be watching TV rather than Internet TV? How will TV-on-demand affect the industry?
Listing a series of such questions, Bill Roedy, the former head of MTV Networks International, confesses that he does not know the answer to these common posers. He hastens to caution that if anyone tells you they know, you should not believe them. “Nobody knows for sure. The architecture of the business is changing and every media company is grappling with it. This kind of earthquake can destroy great companies but it also provides tremendous opportunities. There are huge shifts in the wind and the goal is to catch that wind and go with it,” writes Roedy in ‘What Makes Business Rock: Building the world’s largest global networks’ (www.wiley.com).
Delivery systems have changed
Looking back, the author notes that the basic concept behind all of the media world has not changed – viz. the ability to send pictures and sound through the air so countless people can see and hear them at precisely the same time. However, what has changed, and is continuing to change, are the delivery systems, the way content is distributed and the ability of a viewer to choose what and when they want to see, he adds.
An apt quote cited in the book is of Judy McGrath, the former MTV CEO, that everybody who is making TV content now is thinking about Twitter, Facebook, and some sort of social media connection. The biggest question, according to her, is what kind of content would be successful on the widest variety of platforms. And the answer, as she sees it, is to either aim for the stars or aim for the cool, influential fringe. “The big things are getting bigger, the small things need to be cool and influential, and the middle, the average programming, that’s over.”
The world in your pocket
Going forward the buzzword is mobile, avers Roedy. Reminding that the television industry used to brag that it could bring the world into your living room, which by itself was quite extraordinary, he says that now the industry can put the world in your pocket, by delivering content to a BlackBerry, iPod, iPad, and eventually every mobile device, sticking to the pervasive theme of television anywhere, anytime.
An example mentioned in the book is smart TV, that is, a television capable of accessing the Internet. “In the past TVs were sold as cable-ready, but in 2010, 21 per cent of the TVs sold to consumers were Internet-enabled. The technology is evolving and there are still difficulties to be resolved like ease of navigation and eliminating the keyboard, but in the past technology has been able to overcome every hurdle.”
Foreseeing that gradually all TVs will evolve into a combination of television and computer, Roedy explains that in such a scenario Internet services and websites like Twitter, Netflix, Google TV, Apple TV, and Amazon’s streaming service are all going to be available on the living room television, as well as on smartphones and tablets.
Insatiable need for content
On the challenge of distribution faced by content providers, the author observes that the traditional business model of providing content to the cable system operators and the direct-to-home operators has become complicated owing to the proliferation of distribution platforms, the only thing common being the insatiable need for content. Reminisces Roedy that only a few years ago many people were writing off content, believing that the ability of people to upload material to the Internet would result in a world of user-generated content. “That was the original appeal of YouTube. User-generated content is available now and some of it is very good.”
Suggesting, for instance, that if you would like to find someone who sings like a young Beyoncé or a newer Beyoncé, there are sites that will lead you to her, the author underlines that the vast majority of the audience wants Beyoncé – not a younger or newer version, but the real thing. The lesson that he draws is that professionally produced storytelling remains by far the most popular programming across the entire spectrum of platforms, from cable TV to mobile phones. “The most-often viewed videos on YouTube, for example, are highly produced materials that either are pirated or licensed, a trend that I believe will continue.”
Choice of viewing windows
In the author’s opinion, the most serious challenge facing content providers is figuring out which distribution services in what form produce the best revenue stream. “The equation is what screens among all the possible distribution methods to license with how much content, and under what terms and conditions. On top of all that, you have to determine what kind of viewing windows will allow you to best protect the basic product, the channel.”
Instructive is the example given in the book of the 2011 deal between Viacom and Hulu, a website that runs TV content for free to viewers after it has aired and profits from advertising, and Hulu Plus, which offers a greater variety of programming and charges subscription fees. “A key point in that deal was a 21-day window. Unique in that agreement was the provision that Hulu Plus would wait 21 days after Viacom’s most popular shows, Jersey Shore for example, are initially broadcast before making them available online. Nobody yet knows if 21 days is the correct model, but it’s just another step in this evolutionary process.”
With too many unknowns in the uncharted territory of newer platforms, mistakes can happen by moving forward too quickly or by waiting too long, warns Roedy. A case he cites is of Starz, a collection of pay TV channels, which licensed its programming to Netflix in 2008 for three years for a total of $25 million, essentially giving it away. “In contrast, in 2010 the Viacom-led partnership with MGM and Lionsgate, Epix, licensed its 3,000-plus movie titles to Netflix for five years for almost a billion dollars.”
Sustainability of subscriber base
What can be ominous to the cable TV industry is the threat posed by alternative delivery systems to the sustainability of subscriber base. The industry loses business when the consumer cancels his/her cable subscription to receive content through the Internet. Called ‘cord cutting,’ the impact of this phenomenon is evident from these numbers, from the US market: “It’s not unusual for an American to be paying as much as $150 a month to the cable company for the media triple play, cable TV, a broadband connection, and a phone service. But by subscribing to Netflix for less than $10 monthly, paying separately for broadband for less than $50, and using an Internet phone operator, that same consumer can cut his or her costs by about half.”
Estimates given in the book speak of 14 per cent of televisions connected to the Internet in 2010; and of the percentage rising to 38 by 2014. “In the second quarter of 2010 the cable industry lost 216,000 subscribers. They just went away. In the third quarter an additional 120,000 left.”
It may be heartening to the cable industry that the price advantage enjoyed by the competition may eventually erode. “For example, Netflix’ $25 million deal with Starz expires in 2012 – and renewing it will be very expensive, so Netflix’ cost of content is going to rise rapidly, costs it will have to pass along to its customers. It’s possible that Netflix one day will be as expensive as cable TV… But certainly, with advertising and subscription revenues of $150 billion the cable TV industry will do everything possible to protect its revenue stream.”
And the cable industry has not been complacent, one learns, what with the series of capability upgrades that have happened in the mature geographies, in the form of HD, TVR, wireless, and VoD. “In addition, cable operators are increasingly broadband connection providers: by the beginning of 2011, 54 per cent of Internet connections were provided by those companies.”
The book has a snatch of insight from Mike Fries, the president and CEO of John Malone’s Liberty Global, the largest cable company outside the US, that 99 per cent of all television is still viewed on the living room TV set and that half the revenue of the industry today comes from IP services that did not exist a decade ago.
To take the pace of innovations to the next level, and to keep subscribers from cutting the cord, Fries prescribes three things: “Connect our content to other devices, including PCs, tablets, and smartphones; bring third-party online content and apps to the TV; and revolutionise the user interface and experience.”
Educative read that can add whole new perspectives to your otherwise routine TV viewing.
The Daily Goss
The music world’s most influential man lifts the lid on the global music scene and the stars within it
Bill Roedy, the man behind MTV, reveals all in new memoir
It was the biggest music revolution of the 80s, as our musical idols were beamed into our living rooms through the power of video and TV 24 hours a day. It was, of course, the beginning of the world’s biggest television network and since then MTV has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest acts in music history, becoming a powerful global force.
There through it all has been Bill Roedy, the man who used music to connect countries and break down boundaries. Bill has been part of the biggest music moments of the last three decades – from bringing MTV to China and Russia to helping launch the careers of infamous stars such as Madonna and Michael Jackson.
He’s seen not only some of the greatest musical moments of the last 30 years, but also some of the biggest falls from grace, the worst pop diva meltdowns and the most tragic rock stories. From singing karaoke with Bono, to seeing Bob Geldof dressed as a nurse in Tokyo at 4a.m, Bill has seen it all.
In his new book What Makes Business Rock: Building the World’s Largest Global Networks Roedy lifts the lid on music’s biggest stories and how he used music to create a powerful vehicle for change.
What We’re Reading from the June 1, 2011, Issue of CIO Magazine
What Makes Business Rock is included in the “What We’re Reading Roundup” from the June 1st issue.
Click here for more
13.06.11 | Emma de Vita
Off the shelf: Emma de Vita reviews the new book by Bill Roedy
Love it or hate it, MTV is a phenomenal business success story, and Bill Roedy is the man who, as chairman and chief executive, built it from a single channel in 1989 to the massive entertainment network it is today. Bill Clinton even described him as “the best businessman in the world”.
So what are Roedy’s management and leadership secrets? “What has been most amazing to me,” he writes, “is how much we accomplished by never accepting no for an answer, by taking risks and accepting the inevitable mistakes, by emphasising and appreciating creativity, and, as David Ben-Gurion (Israel’s first PM) often said, making miracles part of the planning, and finally, by charging up the hill.” Perhaps most importantly: “I have been able to do what I love, and I’ve loved what I’ve done.”
Woo-hoo for Roedy! Want some of his chutzpah to rub off on you? Well then, follow his number one business philosophy: “If you’re going to get things done, you’ve got to break the rules.”
Charities are often full of bureaucracy and unnecessary authoritarian hierarchies. Instead of playing ball, why not challenge the status quo? Who knows, you too might be Rockin’ All Over the World.
Climate News 2011
12.05.11 | Posted by ziarra
MTV’s Roedy Marketing Book: What makes business Rock Review
Wiiliam H. Roedy, the former chairman and CEO of Viacom’s MTV Networks International has written a book “What makes business Rock” about investment plans and how to achieve global success.
Throughout the book its evident Roed’s mantra of changing strategy mid course if it is not working proves to be the foundation of his business success.
Mr Roedy knows about success and has an interesting resume that includes platoon leader in Vietnam and NATO missile commander.
The book has some interesting parts about music celebrities and global opinion leaders and politicians and their view of business and marketing styles.
Bill Roedy serves as board member of GBC and GAVI alliance. He helped build MTV into world’s largest global TV network.
His philosophy is: “Respect other country’s cultures”. He has met with Chinese president twice as the company delved into the Asian economic powerhouse market. “There is no global marketing strategy without China, he says in the book. “Never take ‘No’ for an answer.” “Take chances.” “Break all the rules.”
MTV has grown globally to 411.7 million homes. MTV.com has a strong internet fan base with its embedded video, online TV, podcasts and movies.
MTV is a business success story and managed to break the color barrier by promoting and including music videos from the US minority groups.
The book details how the MTV business success was achieved through negotiations, skilful marketing campaigns and clever business-launch timing.
Leadership Now: Leading Blog
05.05.11 | Posted by Michael McKinney
Bill Roedy: From West Point to MTV
Bill Roedy, former Chairman and CEO of MTV Networks International, began working for HBO in 1979 when it was broadcasting only nine hours a day. There he learned that distribution was everything. It was to be his mantra at MTV—aggressive, creative, relentless distribution.
Roedy shares his experiences and lessons in What Makes Business Rock. From virtually nothing, he built MTV International into the largest media network in the world. For anyone involved doing business internationally, it is essential reading.
As manager of HBO’s national accounts, he learned that “In life as well as in business, the ability to sell is the foundation upon which success is built.” Some people don’t understand that he says, but even in Vietnam, although he had the formal authority to force troops obey my orders, I found that if people didn’t believe in the mission, I never got a total effort from them.” Leaders are always selling.
Although reluctant to leave HBO and move to London, in 1989 he became managing director of MTV Europe. What he inherited wasn’t working. He had to quickly create a better product, get more distribution and generate revenue. Getting the right people in place was crucial to creating an entrepreneurial organization. “Never take ‘No’ for an answer.” “Take chances.” “Break all the rules.”
Their objective was to be the most visually engaging channel in the history of European television. To make sure viewers always knew they were watching MTV, they put their logo in the corner of the screen and left it there. No one had done that before. (Now everyone does.)
Here is a lesson every leader could bear to keep in mind: as a leader, your opinion matters—maybe more than you know. But it can actually be having a negative impact. The MTV playlist is extremely important to its viewers and giving them what they want to hear is essential to MTV’s survival. Roedy says that in the beginning he attended those meetings if only to be the voice of reason and a subtle reminder that they were running a business. “But after attending half a dozen of these meetings I realized I was making a huge mistake. I was much older than our demographic and my musical tastes were very different. I was skewing the choices older.” So he stopped attending those meetings. “As much as I enjoyed being part of that process, I had to remind myself that I was a manager, and I had to delegate decision-making authority to those people I trusted.” How many leaders, for all kinds of well-intentioned reasons feel they have to leave their fingerprint on everything, while they are in-fact stifling their people and skewing the results?
Roedy’s success at MTV can be attributed to the fact that he was always reinventing. “The longer you stay with the same strategy, the more vulnerable you become to your competitors.”
His most important contribution was the idea, “Think global, act local.” MTV was already local to Europe, but it had to be broken down to the national level, country by country. “Learn the local culture and reflect it in every decision we make,” was their business strategy. He created a structure similar to what he learned in the military: small operating units in the field fighting the competition. “My belief was that the local people would best reflect the needs, tastes, and desires of the local audience, and because their jobs would depend on the bottom line, they were much less likely to make risky or destructive financial decisions. In Vietnam, I had seen over and over the benefits of dealing directly with the loyal population on their own terms, rather than trying to impose our beliefs on them.” Because of the complexities of operating an international business, you need be there on the ground to really feel it.
On MTV Arabia for example, they broadcast the call to prayer on the channel five times every day. For Ramadan they produced an animated film explaining the meaning of that important religious holiday to young people in a creative way and refrained for a month from showing any music videos.
Throughout the book there are stories of music celebrities—singing karaoke with Bono and Bob Geldof dressed as a nurse in Tokyo at 4a.m.—and others like Sumner Redstone, Robert Maxwell, Jeff Bewkes, Nelson Mandela, Jiang Zemin, Fidel Castro, Tony Blair, and the Dalai Lama. They add color to the book and make it all the more interesting. But read it for the insights into global business.
What makes business rock
After reading What Makes Business Rock by Bill Roedy, I have developed an appreciation for what it took to build MTV Networks International into what it is today. Former Chairman and CEO, Bill Roedy, has had a remarkable career.
Due to financial constraints, he followed his Dad into West Point. Not his first choice. He became a member of the “Century Club” collecting more than a hundred hours of punishment duty. But he did learn the “difference between fighting the system and finessing it.” He also learned many of the skills that would enable him to succeed in business, including “discipline, time management, the value of teamwork, and the importance of physical endurance.”
He learned how to prioritize. Survival depended on it. “Too often,” writes Roedy, “I have seen people focusing on the wrong things—things that are not going to directly or immediately affect their business….Leaders need to learn to cut through the chaff to determine priorities and to identify the real target.”
After West Point he served in Vietnam in various command positions. “I learned the importance of making quick and firm decisions, communicating those decisions clearly to my troops, and then doing anything and everything necessary to implement them. I learned the importance of building morale, camaraderie, and a team spirit. I learned how to deal with the chain of command and how to get around it when necessary.”
From Vietnam he went to Northern Italy where he spent four years in command of three NATO nuclear missile bases. A good place to learn how to deal with pressure and stress. “There are few situations more stressful than commanding a nuclear missile site and trying to determine in 30 seconds whether the aircraft approaching the base was a friend or foe. There was no margin for error. We had to be perfect every day.”
Wanting to go into business, he resigned the military after 11 years and went to Harvard to get an MBA. As a child, Bill was so enthralled by the power of television that he would memorize the TV Guide and recite the schedule back to his mother. He knew he wanted to work in television so instead of the typical corporate route followed by his classmates, he took a job at a small start-up cable network called HBO.
Roedy’s background doesn’t make him the likely candidate to build MTV International, but it certainly prepared him for it. More on that tomorrow.