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September 8, 2010

Come on and love me!

Esteem can attach to an act because of their reputation for a great live show; the unique qualities of their sound; their image, their multi-media output, their novelty, or their catalogue of great songs. Long careers are built on a combination of these sources.

The longest and highest profile rock and roll career has been built by The Rolling Stones, who have a great catalogue of highly esteemed songs and a reputation for a great live show 40 years after they started performing.

KISS built a reputation for a novel and highly entertaining live show featuring many catchy songs that reflected fairly universal values. They extended and enhanced that with a unique image featuring clearly definable characters, each of whom attracted its own esteem and lent itself to merchandising.

Michael Jackson's lasting legacy was to turn music into a visual art form through his video marketing and choreography. He is remembered as much for his moon walk and amazingly dexterous dancing as for his high-energy live show, catchy songs and vocal innovations (see next section).

Esteem can attach to an act as a distraction, however. OK Go broke though into popular consciousness with their innovative "treadmills" video on Youtube but the song attached to it was less memorable and they have struggled to repeat or build on that success. Musicians must beware that esteem granted because of novelty is fleeting, lest they become one-hit wonders for non-musical reasons.


A musical act must look to build esteem for some unique aspect of their performances, such as their attitude, image, or innovation. This esteem expands their sources of income and influence into non-musical representations such as merchandise and endorsements.

This post is the summary of Part 2 of Dr Huge's "How the record industry got it so wrong". The latest version of the complete ebook can be downloaded here and a hard copy can be ordered here.
Posted by DrHuge at September 8, 2010 4:54 PM

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