316 – How This Rock and Roller Knocked Back a World Famous Superstar to Stay Authentic In Business

316 – How This Rock and Roller Knocked Back a World Famous Superstar to Stay Authentic In Business

It’s not very often that you get to meet an authentic business owner who is part of the fabric of an entire culture. James Young lives and breathes rock and roll. James bought Melbourne’s Cherry Bar originally as a vanity purchase so that he would always be able to get into his favourite rock and roll bar. Since then he has re-named the street on which it resides to AC/DC lane and attracts some of the biggest names in rock and roll to perform side shows in his dark and shadey, 200 person bar. Have a look at the tour James took me on in the video below…

In this fireside chat we cover:

  • How and why  he knocked back one of the world’s biggest stars to maintain the bar’s values
  • How he turned what most would see as a HUGE mistake into an even bigger press opportunity
  • Changing the name of the street to AC/DC lane
  • How life is too short to do anything but what you love
  • How to be authentic in business
  • How live music is an obsession
  • Where you get your money and where your success comes from is in the last 5% of what you do
  • How to deal with constant challenges in business
  • The power of standing for something
  • Crowd funding

I also cover a listener question that I get often on how to convince the boss on embracing helpful marketing strategies.





00:30  Welcome & overview
02:19  Insights in to WebCentral
03:29  Today’s guest introduction – James Young of The Cherry Bar
05:45  Interview with James Young – Part 1
16:00  Insights into Cornerstone Business Solutions
17:23  Interview with James Young – Part 2
38:15  My top 3 attention grabbers from my chat with James Young
40:14  Listener question
43:56  Wrap-up and insights in to next week’s guests





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The Cherry Bar’s official website






  1. “Don’t say it. Be it.”
    “Don’t tell me you’re funny. Tell me a joke.”
    “Walk your talk!”
    Everything James does, down to the types of alcohol he serves is done with his audience (his customers) and his brand in mind.
  2. Have a word or phrase that drives everything you do in your business. Steve’s phrase is Rock and Roll. I spoke to a business owner today who’s business is all about caring – yet the whole caring concept wasn’t coming across in any of his marketing. Once the penny dropped for him, the writing of copy, the delivery of a caring customer experience became a whole lot easier.
  3. Storytelling. I’m going to sound like a broken record here … but how engaged were you by the stories James told. Find the stories that back up the points that you want to make to your customers.






What was your biggest marketing learning or ah-ha moment from this episode?

Leave your comment below.

My guest and I respond to each and every comment.



6 thoughts on “316 – How This Rock and Roller Knocked Back a World Famous Superstar to Stay Authentic In Business”

  1. Loved this one! When I come down (someday) I am putting this on the list of must visits. I love the video tour too Timbo! Great add to the show. James, how do you handle all the bookings? Do you have staff? Do you get so many requests that you don’t have to reach out to bands, or do you still have to do outbound calling to book? With 365 days a year, I’m sure that is a job. Also, I’m still a little curious to know how this thing started in the first place. Was it a big success right out of the gate, or did you have to do marketing in the early year(s)?
    Love your work Timbo!

  2. Thanks Nicko. I’ll endeavour to do more videos in the coming months – if it makes sense to. I’ll see if I can get James to respond to your questions.

  3. James Young

    Hi Nick, I handle all bookings, 80% come to me. I have 17 bar staff. I knock back 75% of approaches though cos I don’t have the room for them or they need more development. Cherry has evolved. We were a successful ‘underground’ venue, and now we’re a successful very well known Bar. 16 year and counting… Cheers

  4. This was an awesome episode! I have been to Cherry Bar once, many, many years ago and don’t remember much of it admittedly 😉 However, having worked at The Espy in St Kilda years ago, I immediately felt the vibe and through listening to your excellent description of the place, felt like I was there.
    James, what a character. ‘Don’t say it. Be it’ was written down in my notebook and I will stick it up on my wall as a reminder. Business is supposed to be fun! People get lost in the work and forget why they started. It was refreshing to hear from someone who’s still having a lot of fun.

  5. Jess, that’s a great set of learnings you’ve taken away. That notebook of yours must be filling up! And you worked at the Espy – well, I reckon you may have served me a brew or three at one time or another. Was my local hangout way back then! Two great Melbourne institutions – The Espy and The Cherry Bar.

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