A Rock Star in Our Midst

Written by Allison Babb
Cornell Business
February 13, 2001

Reid Genauer is not your typical MBA student, unless you consider having been the lead singer in an almost-famous touring band "typical." The following is a look at Reid's unlikely path to the Johnson School. Reid grew-up in suburban New York and attended the University of Vermont. While at UVM, Reid and a few friends started a band called Strangefolk. As most college bands do, they played in local bars, at fraternity parties and toured around the area.

After graduating in 1994 with a BS in natural resource management, Reid went to work at the Center for Rural Studies in Burlington, Vermont. It was not until the following year that Reid decided to quit work and devote all his time to the band. Not only was he the lead singer, songwriter and guitar player, but he also served as manager. As Reid describes it "I didn't decide to start a small business, I decided to start a band. However, the reality was that in order to support my creative aspirations, I needed an organizational structure." So in addition to screaming guitars and hysterical teenagers, Strangefolk had a business plan, a payroll, health insurance, 10 full-time employees and a certificate of incorporation in its arsenal.

Initially Reid booked, promoted and positioned the band himself. Before signing with Mammoth Records, a subsidiary of Disney, in 1998, Strangefolk sold some 60,000 copies of its independently released CDs. Upon signing with Mammoth, Reid and his band joined the roster of the Monterey Peninsula Booking Agency, which also represents artists such as the Dave Matthews Band, Phish and Bonnie Raitt. In making its debut record with Mammoth, the band also enlisted disco king and superstar producer Nile Rodgers. Rodgers produced records such as Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and David Bowie's "Lets Dance," and is the co-founder of the band Chic.

These are some impressive associations and a seemingly attractive situation, so why is Reid crunching numbers with the rest of us? As he tells it, "In addition to being dropped by Mammoth, the week before our album was scheduled to be released, I just got tired of the routine." After six years of driving back and forth across the country, living a vampire's life and wrestling with the uncertainty of being a professional musician, Reid longed for a more balanced and even-keeled lifestyle. Amid nostalgic sighs and a series of smirks and chuckles, I learned Reid is also getting married in May of this year. He explained, "I couldn't really ask my girlfriend to marry me and tell her I would see her once every six months. Truth be told, we have been together for the entire experience and she's been wonderful about it all".

When asked what the future holds for this unlikely MBA candidate he replied with a robust smile, "I want to be a ballerina!" In truth, Reid is pursuing positions in advertising, the entertainment industry and outdoor retail. That's OK though Reid, we all know you're saving the tu-tu for once recruiting season is over!

Cornell Business