Supply And Demand


It used to be that scarcity drove up value. It was simple supply and demand. When something is rare, it is more valuable.

In music we can find endless examples. The posthumous brand values of artists like Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, and Elvis Presley are far greater than their brand values prior to their deaths.

After John Bonham died and Led Zeppelin disbanded, every Page/Plant interaction became a major event. Their 2007 reunion show at the 02 Arena in London became the live music event of the decade.

We have yet to experience it, but there is a good chance that each unreleased song from the Prince archives will become extremely valuable.

Low supply = high demand = even higher value.

Today it seems like that equation might be broken.

The Weeknd is one of the top-selling artists in the world. His first single appeared in the fall of 2012, just over four years ago.

Since that time, The Weeknd has released three studio albums, three mixtapes, one compilation album (featuring all 3 mixtapes), and a mind-boggling 26 singles.

In just over four years, The Weeknd has released 26 singles. That’s an average of 6.5 singles per year. Think about that for a second.

To put that in perspective, over the course of their career The Rolling Stones have released 109 singles so far. But they put their first single out in 1964… that was 52 years ago. That’s an average of just over 2 singles per year.

Aerosmith has pumped out 63 singles since 1973. That’s an impressive number, but it is only about 1.5 singles per year.

Bruce Springsteen has given us 69 singles since ’73, a production level similar to Aerosmith.

Madonna’s career has seen her release 83 singles since 1982, which is a solid 2.44 singles annually.

None of those legendary artists even come close to The Weeknd’s incredible pace of 6.5 singles per year.

The game has changed.

For those heritage artists, the game was about releasing the right number of albums and singles, and touring just the right amount. Artists timed their releases so that they could do an album, release multiple singles while touring to support the album, take a year or so off, and then release a new album. And it worked.

Today’s artists live in a world of instant gratification. They compete with artists everywhere on the globe, creating and releasing new music incessantly. They exist in an environment where you can create and release a song, get millions of streams and downloads, and then decide if you even want to do an album or tour. They collaborate and co-create in an unprecedented way.

Today’s artists also live in a cycle of perpetual media exposure. If you’re not doing something noteworthy, you’re irrelevant.

Is your business staying top-of-mind?

Being top-of-mind today means being perpetually present in your marketing, having a constant social dialog, and continually evolving your products and creating new products.

You never want to flood the market to the point of devaluing your product, but in today’s world you cannot sit back and be invisible, hoping your die-hard fans will crave your product in six months or a year. You need to be evolving, growing, changing, and adapting.

The Weeknd has released 26 singles in four years, and that’s the new normal.

Drake has released 85 singles in his nine year career. That blows The Weeknd out of the water! Drake is averaging almost 18 singles per year.

Drake’s girlfriend Rihanna has released 64 singles since 2005, just short of 6 singles per year.

Kanye West has released 110 singles since 2003, just about 8.5 singles per year.

The game has changed.

Will you change with it?

By the way, the new album Starboy by The Weeknd is nothing short of amazing. You really should listen to it. The man is prolific because he’s brilliant.

Put the lessons of music legends to work to help you build a better business. You can still order Brand Like a Rock Star with one-click on Amazon and have it delivered well before Christmas. 

Aerosmith, Bob Marley, Drake, Elvis Presley, Kanye West, Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Rolling Stones, The Weeknd 682 Comments

Choose To Rock

I spent two weeks in the Caribbean over the holidays, listening to a lot of reggae music. My personal favorite is Bob Marley.

Bob Marley came from nothing.

He was born in total poverty in the village called Nine Mile up in the hills of Jamaica, and raised in the Trench Town district of Kingston.

In the 1970s, as Marley’s popularity soared, Trench Town became an all-out war zone sparked by divisive politics, drugs, and corruption.

Yet despite violence and poverty, Trench Town produced some of the greatest music Jamaica has ever known. Not only did Bob Marley emerge from the famous “government yards in Trench Town”, but so did many of his “Wailers”, including Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. To this day Trench Town is famous as the birthplace of rocksteady and reggae music.

Despite coming from absolutely nothing, Bob Marley became a music legend, cultural icon, and modern-day philosopher.

So many great rock stars came from poverty-striken and broken homes, includingElvis, Springsteen, Jay-Z, and Hendrix.

You don’t need power, money, political pull, job security, or corporate influence to be a rock star.

Being a rock star is a choice.

You can chose to create something truly memorable, something game changing, something meaningful… or you can chose to be average and watch the world go by.

Bob Marley chose to speak from his heart and make music that reflected his personal feelings, his religious beliefs, and his cultural heritage. He chose to change the lives of people around him in a positive and powerful way.

If you decide to sit and wait for the right time, circumstance, financial situation, and political climate to “rock”, you’ll be waiting a long, long time.

I think you should choose to rock instead.

Forget about your circumstances and forget about your excuses. Wake up and start rockin’.

With one click right here you can order Brand Like A Rock Star: Lessons From Rock ‘n’ Roll To Make Your Business Rich and Famous. It is a step by step guide to creating a powerful brand that rocks using the core marketing strategies of the bands and singers you love.

Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley, Jay-Z, Jimi Hendrix 689 Comments

Michael Jackson, McRibs, and the Value of Discontinued Brands


Michael Jackson is worth more dead than he was alive. Nearly bankrupt in his final days, he (well, his estate) earned nearly a billion dollars in the year after his death.

Even the comeback tour that never happened managed to make $6.5 million US in ticket sales simply because many fans wanted to keep their tickets as souvenirs.

Why is a brand like Michael Jackson able to make more dead than alive?

1. When you’re dead, you can’t screw up your brand any more. Let’s face it… Michael Jackson had managed to mangle a once-brilliant brand. Through bizarre behavior, child abuse allegations, and endless plastic surgery, Michael Jackson’s brand had faded far from his Thriller days. Once he died, there was no way he could possibly do himself any more damage.

2. When you’re dead, we realize what we lost. Despite all the oddities, Michael Jackson was a once-in-a-generation musician. He created magic. Now it is gone, and it isn’t coming back. It took losing his genius for most of us to be able to recognize it.

3. When you’re dead, supply and demand work in your favor. With nothing more to offer, everything Michael Jackson did becomes more valuable. Merchadise and souvenirs become currency.  Unreleased music from before he died becomes infinitely more valuable than it otherwise would have been.

4. When you’re dead, we get to remember you the way we want to. Michael Jackson is remembered as a quirky musical genius, not a surgically-manipulated circus sideshow. Elvis Presley is remembered as young and energetic, not bloated and pathetic. Kurt Cobain is a troubled genius, not a drug-addled wife beater. We can write our own history, thank you very much.

Think about the various products that your company makes, especially the ones that have passionate customers but limited appeal. Would these fringe products be more valuable if they were completely discontinued or released in limited or time-sensitive quantities?

If this strategy sounds crazy to you, just ask McDonald’s how they are doing with their McRib sandwich. The product was a mediocre seller from 1981 to 1985. Since 1994 McDonald’s has periodically brought McRib back for limited periods. Last November, the McRib helped boost McDonald’s monthly sales by 4.8%.

Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, McDonalds, McRib, Michael Jackson 1,185 Comments

You Aren’t As Different As You Think You Are

You think your business or product is really unique, but it isn’t. We are all too close to our brands to realize just how similar we all are to each other.

To the average consumer walking the grocery store aisle, all those boxes of breakfast cereal look pretty much the same. You might think your organic flax-infused cereal stands out, but it probably doesn’t jump out from the crowd nearly as much as you think it does.

The only brands that stand out are the ones that are the clear cut category leader and the brands that are meanginfully different. The really cool thing is, if you create something meaningfully different, you create your own product category. Proof? Southwest Airlines created the low-cost airline category and turning that niche into American aviation domination. Subway turned the submarine sandwich category into the largest single-brand restaurant chain in the world with 34,187 locations.

When you become different in a big way, people have no choice but to notice you.

Elvis did it. KISS did it. The Village People did it. Lady Gaga is doing it. Hell, even the painfully bad Rebecca Black did it a few weeks ago.

Do something other brands don’t do. Offer something nobody else is offering. Say something nobody else is saying.

Only then will you get noticed. And getting noticed, in today’s world, is most of the battle. If you have a great product and you can get noticed, you’ve got it made.

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Elvis Presley, KISS, Lady GaGa, Rebecca Black, Southwest Airlines, Village People 219 Comments

Life After Death

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When I heard that Sony Music was paying $250 million to the estate of Michael Jackson for the rights to his past music and 10 projects to be released over the next 7 years, my first thought was that they are completely nuts.  I mean, they just signed a dead artist who hasn’t had a legitimate hit song since 1995 to the biggest record deal in history!  He was nearly bankrupt prior to his death and his last album struggled to reach the break even point.  What were they thinking?!?

But when you stop and think about,  there are two reason that Sony might actually be quite shrewd paying this much for Jackson’s music past and future.

1. It is no longer about CD’s and downloads.  It is about movie soundtracks, TV shows, commercials, computer games, and platforms we haven’t even considered yet.  In the old world of CD sales this deal would be nuts, but maybe not so much anymore.

2. Michael Jackson is now a rarity.  Like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Bob Marley, we sadly won’t be blessed with any new music from him.  That makes his brand infinitely more valuable.  In death, Elvis made $55 million last year.  John Lennon’s estate claimed over $15 million in 2009.  Bob Marley’s estate still earns close to $10 million annually… that’s $892,500,000 in Jamaican dollars.

Michael was already far more wealthy in death than he was in life.  His estate earned $90 million in the seven months following his death.  And the years to come with obviously be much more profitable.


What can your business learn from this morbid story?

1. The law of supply and demand is impossible to refute.  If demand is high and supply is low, the value goes sky high.  Examples?  Nintendo’s Wii machine was impossible to find two years ago at Christmas.  The supply was low, but everybody wanted one.  That’s why they fetched over $1000 on e-bay.  Michael Jackson is in demand (because he’s dead) and he’s in low supply (also thanks to death), so once again his value is very high.   How does your brand control supply and demand?  Remember that “supply” could easily be “exposure”.  Are you controlling your brand from overexposure?

2. If you have something cool (like, say, unreleased Michael Jackson material) it pays off to tell people that it is coming.  Create some advance interest.  By telling us that there are 10 Michael Jackson projects coming in the next 7 years, Sony has teased us with what could come.  Rumor is that there are three albums worth of new and unreleased MJ material in the vaults.  Another rumor is that Michael was planning to re-release a new version of  “Off The Wall”.   Apple has done this brilliantly… things like the iPad were the topic of much discussion and anticipation long before they came out.  What does your brand do to generate interest in what you are about to do?

Now Sony couldbe crazy.  But if Elvis Presley is any example, Michael Jackson’s music will endure for years to come in any number of forms and platforms, and Sony will more than recoup their $250 million.

Apple, Bob Marley, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Nintendo, The Beatles 1,610 Comments

Long Live The King


Elvis Presley would have turned 75 years old this weekend.

There’s no doubt about the incredible impact that Elvis had on music. He was the first to bring the raunchy mixture of blues and country to the mass mainstream of America.  There were others before him who melded “black” and “white” music together, but Elvis was the first to reach massive recognition and acceptance.

The short Elvis story: his career skyrocketed in the late 50′s and early 60′s.  However, in the 60′s his choice to perform in and endless string of formulaic movies accompanied by rather formulaic music resulted in his star fading.  At the same time, rougher-edged music by The Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, Doors, and many others had become popular.  By the time the 60′s ended, Elvis was widely regarded as a musical joke.  Even as he attempted a comeback in the 70′s, his addiction to prescription drugs worsened and his health continued to slide.  Although he was playing a record number of concerts, his weight ballooned and his health deteriorated.  His short concerts became incoherent and his paranoia increased daily. When Elvis Presley died in 1977 he was hugely obese and generally sedated by painkillers.


There is hardly a musician alive who doesn’t owe credit to Elvis Presley.  Since his death, Elvis has regularly topped Forbes magazine’s list of the highest-earning deceased celebrities.  He remains the biggest-selling solo artist of all time.  He has been rightfully inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.  His home at Graceland attracts over a half million visitors a year.
Think about how his legacy might be viewed if he would have survived to 75.  How would we look at the King of Rock ‘n Roll if he would have had 33 more years of battling drug addiction, obesity, and musical irrelevance?

Dying took away any opportunity to further destroy his legacy.  It put an end to the circus show, and made Elvis music suddenly rare and valuable.  His death gave Elvis Presley the chance to be remembered firstly for the musical brilliance of his youth, and secondarily for his later-life excesses.

It took his passing to save the brand.

That’s not really all that unusual.  Quite often we crave what we can no longer have.

“Family Guy” was cancelled for 2 1/2 years before Fox TV brought it back based on massive DVD sales.  It was only being without “Family Guy” that convinced Fox that it was worth having after all.

Volkswagen brought the Beetle back in 1998, after being out-of-production in most of the world for many years.  Thanks to the Beetle, VW sales spiked dramatically in subsequent years.  Having no Beetle at all made the Beetle valuable.

McDonald’s has successfully brought back the McRib sandwich on a regular basis, each time giving it a “Farwell tour” and stirring up plenty of “Save the McRib” publicity.  Taking this otherwise forgettable food away makes those who appreciate it stand up and wave the flag.

“New Coke” may go down in history as one of the biggest marketing mistakes ever, but there is a school of thought that says it was all a well-planned strategy to increase passion for the brand.  Planned or not, it definitely did dramatically increase the visible passion for the brand!

Often being rare, or even gone for good, is the only thing that can save a brand.

Beetle, Elvis Presley, Family Guy, McRib 139 Comments

The E.N.D.

That’s the name of the new Black Eyed Peas CD. “E.N.D.” means Energy Never Dies, according to the band’s main persona, The album features the #1 song of the spring, “Boom Boom Pow” and the #1 song of the summer, “I Gotta Feeling”.

And it probably also features the #1 song of the fall and the #1 song of the winter. We just don’t know yet.

But what is significant to me about “The E.N.D.” is that it very well could spell the END of the physical CD as we know it.

Will told Billboard magazine that the old idea of releasing 12 songs on an album is dead in today’s digital world, and it might be for the better. “I’m trying to break away from the concept of an album,” he said. “What is an album when you put 12 songs on iTunes and people can pick at it like scabs? That’s not an album. There is no album anymore.”

Another member of the band, Taboo, also hinted that the new digital world order is shifting how the Black Eyed Peas and others release their music. He told iProng magazine that “Possibly, this is the last physical CD for any group, let alone a Black Eyed Peas CD. Because four years from now, we don’t know what it could be,” he explained. “It’s one thing to just have a CD and need to live with that CD, but what if you were able to take those fifteen songs, and then you got ten songs the next month that you couldn’t have on the CD? And then we just keep on giving you new material and keeping it fresh and reinventing the song.”

They are both right on the money.

We are going back, to the future.

When rock ‘n roll first hit the big time in the 1950′s and 60′s, it was all about the song, or the “single”. The 45 RPM single was the money maker. If you had enough hit singles, the record company would put them all on an album along with some new songs. For acts like The Beatles and Elvis Presley, each of their albums played out like a greatest hits collection.

Somewhere along the way, the album became more profitable than the single. So bands were under pressure to record 12 or 14 songs every year or two for a new album. Not surprisingly, often a large number of those songs were “filler”… songs put there just to take up space. The real reason people bought the album was to hear the hit singles.

Today, with digital downloads fast replacing the notion of a physical CD, we’re back where we started from.

If I were marketing music today, I’d work entirely on a song platform. Forget the album.

Record a great song. Sell it digitally. Provide fans with the individual tracks so they can remix it and share it. Provide means for fans to use the song on YouTube and in other social networking capacities.

And then when the hype fades, do it all again.

The pressure of recording 10 or 12 songs at once is over. Focus can be paid to making each song a great song. No more filler.

Fans are happy. Artists are happy. Record companies? Maybe not, but they probably won’t be around much longer… at least in the form we know them now.

By the way, the Black Eyed Peas – focusing on their singles – have recently set a record on the Billboard charts for the longest band to continuously hold the #1 spot on the charts. After 12 weeks at #1, “Boom Boom Pow” was displaced by “I Gotta Feeling”. And now that it’s been #1 for five weeks the Peas have broken a 16 week run set in the 90′s by Boyz II Men.

Black Eyed Peas, Boyz II Men, Elvis Presley, The Beatles 323 Comments

Michael Will Be Missed


We lost Michael Jackson today. There is no doubt that Michael’s musical brilliance was overshadowed in recent years by his personal and legal troubles, but there should be no question that Michael Jackson was a muscial genius whose music will influence music for generations to come.
It has been a while since his music was heard to any great extent on the radio. Changing musical tides, along with Jackson’s sea of troublesome publicity, made hearing songs from music’s biggest selling album in history a rarity.
Michael Jackson, in death, will live alongside Elvis Presley as an artist that changed the face of music. Like Jackson, Elvis Presley was a fading star when he passed away in 1977. His popularity had diminished. His troubles with drugs and his weight had made him the object of ridicule. Yet when he died, our world stopped. Suddenly Elvis was young again, vibrant and electric, and his music took on a fresh relevance that has never been lost since.
His legal and personal troubles aside, people will now begin to again appreciate Michael Jackson’s music. In the coming days and weeks, you will see sales and downloads of Michael Jackson songs spike. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Michael Jackson reach the top of the chart posthumously with re-released material.
Sometimes it takes losing something to fully appreciate it.
Being rare makes something valuable.
Sadly, that’s what it will take to generate a new interest in one of the greatest artists in music history. But that’s just “Human Nature”.
Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson 107 Comments