Rock Stars Play Professional Conferences

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Seeking to gain better attendance and greater appeal among Generation X and Y members, some professional associations are hiring rock stars and setting theme songs for their annual conferences. Many of these societies feel their meetings are seen by younger members as being boring and having an uptight atmosphere which does little to spark their interest. Hoping to show that they can be creative and fun, they are turning to the musical arts to help improve their “ambiance.”

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) will have Sting performing “King of Pain,” a song he wrote with The Police which is famous for the line “There’s a little black spot on the sun today,” as theme song at their upcoming meeting.

Metallica has been contacted, but is not yet confirmed, to play at the next International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) conference at Virginia Beach (USA), with their hit song “Enter Sandman.”

Perhaps the highest-visibility act, Irish band U2, is set to perform the entire War album, featuring “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “The Refugee”, at the 2015 meeting of the International Political Science Association.

The American Psychological Association (APA) has enlisted David Byrne and The Talking Heads for a reunion performance of “Psycho Killer” as theme song for next year’s convention.

The Society for Prevention of Animal Suicide (SPAS), a lesser-known and relatively new organisation, has chosen for its theme song “Youth Culture Killed My Dog” by They Might Be Giants. Frontman John Linnell was actually an early proponent of research into the causes of animal suicide, which he says is the reason he wrote the song in the first place. Recognising his contribution, the SPAS also named its most prestigious award after him.

Most of these meetings will start and end with the theme song, and feature a few other songs played by the band during breaks between presentation sessions. The band members may serve on keynote speaker panels as well, as for instance with Bono of U2. Some of these conferences will even culminate in a full-length rock concert rather than traditional awards dinners and networking events.

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  1. I heard a rumor that Eminem will be performing “Infinite” at the American Association of Mathematicians Conference.

  2. John says:

    The SPAS award may be named after John Linnell, but I think John Flansburgh wrote “youth culture killed my dog” – and Flansburgh is definitely the frontman in They Might Be Giants.

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