New Castle News

June 13, 2013

Tim Kolodziej: Yep, New Kids are STILL on the block — here’s why

Tim Kolodziej
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Milli Vanilli.

Tone Loc.

Taylor Dayne.

Tiffany.

New Kids on the Block.

OK, let’s play the old “Sesame Street” game: One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong.

•Each is among the most recognizable pop acts of the late 1980s. Check.

•Each act grew in stature through the golden age of videos on MTV. Check.

•Each act had at least one of the biggest hits of 1989. Check.

•Each act is still going strong today. Uh, not exactly.

Whether you love ’em, hate ’em or don’t care a lick about ’em, the New Kids on the Block are still hangin’ tough — more than 25 years after first taking the stage.

The boys from Boston performed Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, along with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men. Shrieks from the Consol Energy Center could be heard in downtown New Castle.

But why?

Isn’t this 2013? Weren’t these “no talent pretty boys” supposed to go away as fast as they entered the public eye? Wouldn’t it make sense for all of them to succumb to drug abuse or other self-sabatoge? Haven’t their 12-year-old fans now aged into their late 30s?

Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.

And no, there’s not a simple explanation as to why NKOTB still pack arenas.

There are, however, plenty of “secrets” the band has discovered to remain relevant.

So, are you looking for ways to build a brand that will last?

Just follow your Knows:

•Know who you are — Though each member of the group is in his early- to mid-40s, NKOTB remains a “boy band.” Not saying that’s good or bad. It just is what it is.

While their voices have dropped an octave or two and their music has evolved through the years, their popularity remains high because they stay true to what they do best.

And “their best” has sold more than 80 million albums since the late 1980s.

The Lesson: Instead of asking ourselves, “What do I love to do?” perhaps a better question is, “What can I NOT STOP doing?” There’s a pretty good chance you’ve been created to do just that. So, stop fighting it already and go do it.

•Know your audience — Women LOVE the New Kids. Men, not so much.

And that’s OK.

Approximately half of the world’s 7 billion population are women. That’s a pretty solid market share.

Your “sappy” is someone else’s successful. Your “fluff” is someone else’s fantastic.

I posed a question to a friend at work who happens to be a HUGE fan of NKOTB. She attended the show in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, with about a half dozen others from The News.

“Exactly WHO goes to these shows?” I asked.

She estimated at least 90 percent of the audience is women, mostly in their 30s, mostly 12-year-old girls in the late ’80s who have remained true to their guys ever since.

Wow. Wouldn’t all businesses love to have their customers grow with them for 25 years?

The Lesson: Who do you enjoy serving? What part of the world do you make the most impact on? Instead of throwing a dart and hoping it lands in a good spot, focus in on your core audience and make them smile. If what you’re doing is done well, THEY will invite others to the party.

•Know your limitations ... and join forces — We were created for community. That’s why we eat together. That’s why we worship together. That’s why thousands upon thousands gather together to dance and sing along with our favorite bands.

During the late 1990s, a few members of the group stepped out into solo careers and met with modest success. But each will tell you they grew from the experience and used that period to work on their most marketable skills.

They soon learned that there’s strength in numbers, and their best chance for success was to be part of a unit. However, they also have discovered it IS possible to express your individuality by playing your unique role on a team.

There’s another reason they’ve reached out. Even as a group, NKOTB understand they can no longer fill arenas on their own. So the band joined forces with two of the more popular acts from The Day — 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men.

The Lesson: Don’t be too shy to ask for help. We can’t all do everything, but we can all do SOMETHING. It’s called “teamwork.” Seek out partners who complement your skills and watch how much faster you attain your goals.

•Know the critics ... and ignore them — Everybody loves to hate the New Kids. Everybody loves to poke fun at them. You and I aren’t immune from the haters either.

Just remember, everybody isn’t on your particular journey, so there’s bound to be misunderstanding and confusion toward you. What we’re not familiar with, we’re often afraid of. And it’s often expressed in anger or resentment.

The Lesson: Don’t be like everybody. That’s average. Instead, you are gifted to be SOMEBODY. That’s awesome.

So let’s all heed the insight of Mark Twain: “Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered — either by themselves or by others.”

Go. Dream. Do. Discover.

In other words, follow your Knows.

And, like the New Kids, say “Yes” to a lengthy and fulfilling journey along your own career path.

That is, if you’ve got the right stuff, baby.

(Sorry. Got carried away.)

(To follow Tim Kolodziej on Twitter, CLICK HERE.)