August 16, 2007
The value of your brand
Found a great article about the David Lee Roth reunion with Van Halen. Gotta say I'm a huge Van Halen fan and all three singers worked for me - although the Cherone things is not my favourite album. Perhaps that's because I'm a drummer and came to VH via an appreciation of Alex, who's been one of the constants of the band ...
Anyway, the article is called "The David Lee Roth Guide to Legendary Marketing" and it's about how DLR has been able to create a relationship with is fans by being larger than life. While that hasn't always worked for everyone, it's always worked for DLR and his fans, who love him for his outspoken ways and respect him for being unrelentingly him.
The point I want to make about this is the point I have made in several music discussions lately, and this is a prime example of it that the article touches on and Bob Baker makes more explicit in his coverage of the article: being a musician is not about making music, it's about creating cultural meaning for people. That's why recordings and acts that are (arguably) not very musical, like, say, Bob Dylan's singing, or hardcore punk, or industrial thrash, can find a fan base that loves it. It's not about the "music" - the sounds that stimulate the eardrum, it's about the meaning people derive from their experience of that music.
That meaning derives from the circumstances of people's lives and the feelings it evoked in them when they first heard it: their age, their class, their attitudes ... all sorts of factors. It's this meaning that makes fans want to make the music and/or the band part of their identity, buy the t-shirts and ringtones and tell others about it.
For that reason, a band's non-musical output is just as important as the music; their image, their behaviour in interviews, their reputation for delivering in live performances, and so on. It's also why giving the recordings away is not such a bad thing - if you can derive income from the increased value this gives you. It also explains Brad's observation that people will buy the CDs and support the artist even though the digital files are given away. The relationship is more important than the artefact.
There's no prescription for what that relationship has to be - that's why niches are growing to the detriment of "mainstream" (whatever that means) acts, as has been noticed in the Long Tail theory. But, of course, throwaway pop is defined by the lack of a relationship. Leftsetz is big on this when he says that the key to a long-term future is to build a relationship with your fans. And, of course, you must NEVER let them down ... unless that's part of the act ...
I sure hope DLR gets to bring some of that early Van Halen culture Down Under on this tour ...Posted by Hughie at August 16, 2007 11:00 AM