By Vidhi Singh who keeps her hair in headbang-able order, always.
Picture this: A linkin park concert, Shinoda workin’ his rap and Chester singin’ his heart out. An overflowing head-banging audience wearing LP tshirts, holding up LP banners. The front row trying to break the barriers just to be able to graze Chester’s hand. A fan as close as she can be to Shinoda, overwhelmed and crying her eyes out.
Now picture this:
The band/artist is your brand
The fans are your customers
The songs are the value or products your brand offers
The madness i.e. the t shirts, banners, the fan’s tears, the unforeseen strength to tear down those barriers and most importantly the audience’s flawless memory of the words of YOUR song is their love for your b(r)and
Pretty neat eh? Question is, as a company, why aren’t you aiming for this? Why create just customers, why not fans? Why make people like your brand, why not make them go gaga over it?
A few elements that have to be kept in mind to rock that b(r) and:
Competition: Well it is mighty stiff.. those who take to an artist(band) become hard core loyalists so b(r)and switching is rare. But still there is opportunity. This is because many people do like more than one band at a time. Also even within say rock there are genres (segments). Another thing to be kept in mind is that with time (ah.. the beloved new generations) flavors (consumer tastes) change and evolve. So there is always room for that new song catering to a new culture.
Market Segmentation aka “finding your fans”: Sure, there are segments. Hence there is considerable opportunity. So what should you be aiming for? It could be becoming the Elvis of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Green Day of Punk Rock, U2 of Post-Punk Rock, Led Zeppelin of Heavy Metal, a new flavor like LP, amalgam of rock and hip hop. And there is room for more than one in each genre: if not Led Zeppelin you could be the Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth or Guns N Roses of heavy metal. Well, you get the point. So you have identified your target segment. Remember you’re only targeting the kind that will not just like but love your song (product). These will be the evangelists who spread the word(WoM), introduce your music to others and even go out of the way to promote your b(r)and to others and all for free!! So set that b(r)and name in keeping with your target.
Product aka the song: Now that your brand name is in place, you have to decide the song. That’s what you offer to the world: the value as we know it. So does this imply you have to be the best singer there is? Nah but you got to be good enough. Your talent is the value you add. So you can’t be well, Rebecca Black. But sure if you have oodles of the gift (a killer bassist, a terrific drummer and/or a mesmerizing vocalist) then you’re blessed. But will that take you to the top? Not necessarily. It’s the artist (brand) the fans fall in love with. Product matters, of course, but a couple of hit singles and you have your fan base in place, even if the subsequent albums are just “good” they’ll still love you, still learn the words and still lose their minds in your concert. It’s the connection you make with the fans that matters not necessarily being a musical genius.
Marketing strategy aka Fan building: So I “like” your song, “like” your b(r)and name, but ah nothing worth loving? So what’s missing? The connect, the love, the passion for your brand. How do you build that? That’s the tough part. Marketing your brand is like striking the right chord in your fan’s heart. Bands create a long term relationship with fans which are what makes them loyalists. Companies hire CRM software to do the same. The idea is to constantly serve the customer. Even if there isn’t a new album in the near future (Linkin Park’s Hybrid theory and Meteora were four years apart) yet there is constant interaction with the fans through the website, fan clubs, selling merchandise, tours and concerts et al. This is brand building after all: creating innovative ways to create emotional attachments with the product (song). So there is the social media aspect where an online community path is used to better assess fan needs. But the onus also has to be the CEO (artist) himself/herself therefore despite the fan clubs online which may or may not be visited by the bands themselves, there has to be that personal communication in the form of tours which means spending time with fans, getting feedback, figuring out what they like and don’t like about your music, their expectations etc. You may not come out with a record that exceeds these expectations but the fact that you cared enough to reach out to them is what will make them your fans for life and create that barrier to entry against competition.
We know a great product(song) without personality (great marketing) will fail. Pull up your socks and instead of settling for a mere customer aim for that die hard head banging overwhelmed fanatic fan in order to rock that b(r)and !!!