Ukulele for “Darker times” and Peter Gabriel’s Ideas

“You can’t walk down the street with a ukulele without being asked about it,” said Chris Johnson, who plays the instrument with the Deedle Deedle Dees, a Brooklyn-based rock band for children. “I teach some kids music lessons, usually starting with piano, but they are all interested in ukulele.”

What the world seems to need now is something tiny, fun and inexpensive.

“In darker times there is something appealingly light about it,” said Jim Beloff, who wrote “The Ukulele: A Visual History

Mr. Gabriel, the son of an inventor, keeps devising new ways for musicians and record labels to use the Web to control their work and to make — not lose — money. Twenty years ago, Mr. Gabriel says, the idea of tying a recording to an ad would have felt sacrilegious. “Today I have a different view: it’s a way to hold onto income for creators,” he says.

Friends and business associates say Mr. Gabriel has always been entranced by the lure of new ideas.

“In the early days, we’d go skiing together and Peter would have an idea every 30 seconds,” says the British entrepreneur Richard Branson, whose Virgin Group includes more than 200 companies. “We’d be sitting on the lift with me scribbling madly in my notebook, trying to get everything down. He’s worse than me.”

On being a musician and and entrepreneur:

“It grew from that in terms of our own career into wanting to own as much of the industry as we could. It’s very important for Peter to have control over his own destiny.”—–