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Blue Ocean Strategy: Stryper

By on Jun 11, 2015 in Featured, Marketing, Music | 0 comments

Stryper dominated the Christian hair band scene in the 1980s. Their religion provided an avenue for success that differentiated them from the booze-swilling, groupie-hunting rockers that defined the scene. In marketing terms, they found their blue ocean and, thus, continue to headline shows. Here are some lessons you can learn from Stryper’s success.

Roger Clyne Makes Peace With The Media

By on May 6, 2015 in Featured, Journalism, Marketing, Music | 0 comments

Not one, not two, not just three errors. A half-dozen, at least, and ones that don’t even require significant research to fact-check. That happened in a recent review of Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers show in Boston*, when the writer made mistakes ranging from the number of albums to the theme of certain songs. Many people or companies, when faced with so many egregious mistakes, would demand corrections, retractions, apologies. They would send nasty emails to the writer and vent about the disrespect for months or years. Not Señor Clyne or his band of amigos. Instead, they did what they do night in and night out as an exceptionally hard-working independent band. They raised a glass to the writer. Here’s the thing: The article perfectly captured the loose atmosphere of a Roger Clyne show. It also portrayed his strengths, and his growth, as a songwriter. Even with (or despite) the factual errors, the article was great for the band and its fans. Many would argue it’s easy to ignore the errors in a positive article, but in practice that seldom happens. As a reporter and editor, I received countless complaints from the subjects of positive stories, often about obscure and or meaningless errors. One example: I once wrote about the preservation of a historic locomotive but misidentified its number. Organizers and others derided me publicly and to my editors because of this mistake — which did not change the substance of the story — and many of them attacked me personally. I’ll let you guess what happened when they contacted me for a follow-up. So should you ignore errors? No. Most reporters want to get the facts right and will make requested corrections. But use such a request as an opportunity to build a relationship with the reporter and the media outlet, not bash the media or accuse them of some deeper conspiracy. With this review, the band likely knew their passionate fan base would let the reporter know about the mistakes. But by thanking the writer publicly, they also primed that fan base for positive interactions with the reporter. This will serve them well in the long run. Not only will they almost assuredly get a positive preview the next time they visit Boston*, but other reporters will likely recognize the band’s humanity and more willingly cover concerts elsewhere. Here’s to life. *This post originally identified the city where the show took place as New York City. Yes, I made an error in a blog post about errors. Of course I...

Grunge Marketing: Tips from Pearl Jam Documentary

By on Aug 25, 2014 in Featured, Marketing, Music, Professional | 0 comments

The Seattle music scene developed differently than other places, as Cameron Crowe explains in the introduction to “Twenty,” the excellent Pearl Jam documentary (read my review on Hugdug). The musicians “worked together to create their own world of influences, and bands, and community … there were tens of bands and everybody knew everybody.” While many within and outside of the the Seattle scene considered it anti-establishment, its growth foreshadowed the emerging connection economy and its renewed emphasis on tribes. Two decades removed, the success of those bands can provide a number of lessons for marketing and entrepreneurship in the 20-teens and beyond. Do you need help building your community?   Find your team: Seattle musicians played together, lived together, listened together. The success of one became the success of all, which made it a scene instead of a location. During the bad times — especially when musicians died, as too many did — the team offered an important network of people who understood the pain and coping mechanisms. Never stop creating: As roommates, Andy Wood and Chris Cornell challenged each other to produce a song a day. The work ethic of Seattle musicians defied the “slacker” stereotype of Gen X and helped propel the bands forward. As Chris Cornell says, the Seattle bands knew they would perservere even if their talent lacked. Seize inspiration: Many of Eddie Vedder’s greatest lyrics simply happened, especially early in the career of Pearl Jam. If an idea hits you, whether an entire blog post or a two-word slogan, don’t wait until you’re “working.” Get it down, somewhere. All too often, inspiration has a short lifespan. Respect Your Fans: A great scene from early in their career happens in Vancouver, during the song “Porch.” When a fan gets roughed up by security, Vedder becomes visibly angry — and his subsequent performance reflects it. PJ has always treated their base well, reward Ten Club members with Christmas singles, priority/seniority-based tickets, and more. They also have stayed true to the music that made them rock stars and creative influences. Experiment With Purpose: During their first European tour, Pearl Jam improvised an acoustic show at a Dutch art house. That led to one of the best MTV Unplugged shows ever, and proved their musical versatility. They also had their failures (“Bugs,” anyone?). So what. They have always pushed themselves, whether it’s making records (No Code) that swerve wildly from their early successes or straight-up rock n’ roll when everybody wants The Flaming Lips. Work: When Eddie Vedder arrived in Seattle, he told his future Pearl Jam bandmates that he wanted to go straight to the studio. During good times, bad times, all times, the successful Seattle musicians worked. They toured, they wrote, they played. Pearl Jam still plays more shows than most bands half their age, which fuels their lasting success and their...

Here, North Dakota

By on Aug 9, 2013 in Featured, Fiction | 0 comments

She loved his ugliness. He hated her beauty. In a small cafe with shitty food and oily coffee, their lives reach a crossroads. Inspired by “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers.

Marketing Lessons From Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

By on May 16, 2013 in Featured, Marketing, Music | 0 comments

Macklemore, an “overnight” sensation who has been working his craft for two decades, has remained staunchly “i-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t.” For small shops, their approach to music, art and marketing can provide some valuable lessons.

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