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

Using The Rule of Three To Open Their Minds, Hearts, And Wallets


McCartney, Rihanna, and Kanye. Photo from

McCartney, Rihanna, and Kanye. Photo from


A great comedy writer once told me about the “Rule of Three”.

It’s the third thing that makes everything else funny. Or interesting. Or engaging.

I was reminded of it a few times this week while watching the 40th Anniversary of Saturday Night Live.

Remember the classic Chris Farley sketch as Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker? The Rule of Three is in play as Farley introduces himself to kids Stacey and Brian and says “First, let me tell you a few things about myself…

I’m thirty-five years old.

I am divorced.

And I live in a van down by the river!”


The famous “cowbell” sketch contains the Rule of Three, as Christopher Walken, playing record producer Bruce Dickenson, turns to the band and says “Guess what…

I got a fever.

And the only prescription

is more cowbell!”

The trick to the Rule of Three is the third item.

It has to surprise. It must delight. It needs to stand out.

The first two things represent duality. Human beings live in a world of duality. We expect duality.

Left and right. North and south. Man and woman.

The first two things in the rule of three make sense. The third one needs to deviate.

The third “gravitating body” makes things interesting, as my friend author Roy Williams would agree.

One of the musical guests on the 40th anniversary of SNL also used the Rule of Three to create a hit song called “FourFive Seconds”. It is a trio featuring Kanye West, Rihanna… and Paul McCartney.

The first two things are the expected duality. Kanye West teaming with Rihanna makes sense. We expect it.

Paul McCartney? That’s unexpected. That’s unusual.

When the mind encounters the third “gravitating body” – that unexpected twist – it cannot help but engage.

It is the Rule of Three that make this song (and this combination of artists) really, really compelling.

Brian Clark at Copyblogger wrote a great piece about using the Rule of Three. You can read it here.

Can you use the Rule of Three in business?


You can use it in your radio ads.

You can use it to write more effective web copy.

You can use it to inspire people to open their wallets at your business, because you’ve secretly used it to open their minds.

Here’s what it looks and sounds like when Kanye West, Rihanna, and Paul McCartney team up.

Order the marketing book Brand Like a Rock Star and learn the core strategies that propelled the biggest names in rock to the top of the charts, and how you can use those strategies in your business. You can order it with one click here.


“Steve Jones knows a thing or two. Listen and take notes” – Gene Simmons


Kanye West, Paul McCartney, Rihanna 5,006 Comments

Letting Time Heal Wounds

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Brands in a state of crisis can learn a little from hip-hop star Chris Brown.

Chris Brown was one of music’s biggest stars until February 8, 2009 when he was arrested by LAPD for assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna.  Immediately his sponsors and partners bailed on him to put some distance between their brand and his.  He was replaced on the 2009 Grammy Awards broadcast by Justin Timberlake, and many radio stations stopped playing Chris Brown’s hits including “With You” and “Forever”.

For nearly two years, Chris Brown has been away from the limelight.  He has appeared on Larry King Live and 20/20 discussing the incident and he has consistently appeared apologetic and regretful for his actions.  One of his more public appearances was at the 2010 BET Awards, where he broke down in tears while performing a tribute to Michael Jackson.

It appears that the world is ready to accept Chris Brown once again.  His new song “Deuces” is climbing the charts, and he is set to star in the movie “Takers” due out August 27.

For brands like Chris Brown who are facing controversy, the equation is simple:


When your brand has been scarred – rightly or wrongly – you cannot instantly recover.  It takes time.

And all the time in the world won’t make a difference if your behavior doesn’t match. 

Tylenol went through major crisis in 1982 when seven people died in Chicago after taking the medicine.  They watched their market share drop from 38% to 8% nearly overnight.  It took almost a year before it rebounded, a performance that surprised many people and was directly attributable to how the company handled the crisis.  They apologized.  They took responsibility.  They pulled all of their products, everywhere, just in case.  They helped the police investigate.  They communicated with the media regularly.  They helped create new tamper-resistant packaging to prevent future problems.  Tylenol faced things head on in a way that connected with consumers.

Chris Brown committed a serious crime that nobody should ever forget take lightly.  However, it looks like his remorseful behavior combined with the passage of time has given his career a fresh start.

Chris Brown, Rihanna, Tylenol 1,554 Comments

Five Key Cause Marketing Questions

Hollywood celebrities and musicians are lining up to be part of the upcoming “Hope for Haiti” benefit organized by George ClooneyJustin Timberlake, Sting, Bono, Christina Aguilera, and Alicia Keys are confirmed so far. On January 22, Clooney will co-host the benefit along with Haitian-born Wyclef Jean.

Wyclef, it should be known, has worked tirelessly for his impoverished home country for years now.  His Yele Haiti foundation has done tremendous work in the country, and his music has brought worldwide attention to Haiti.

Social causes have long been a part of rock ‘n roll.  In the 60′s and 70′s, rock music trumpeted the socially relevant causes of racial equality, gender bias, and the war in Vietnam.  In the 80′s, the Live Aid concerts were a milestone in understanding the immense power of popular music as a vehicle for social change and raising change in the form of cash.  More recently, rock stars have helped instigate political change.  There’s no question that the support of Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, and had an impact on the 2008 Presidential election!

Cause marketing” is the umbrella term given to brands that align themselves with causes.  These partnerships generally have mutual benefit, giving the brand the PR and the warm glow of helping out and giving the cause added publicity and money.  While it may sound mercenary on the surface, there’s nothing inherently wrong with cause marketing.

Rock star brands should ask some key questions when it comes to cause marketing:

1. Does the partnership truly benefit the cause?  Embarking on a cause marketing campaign in the name of your brand’s own selfish gain never works.  If you partner with a cause, work hard to understand what they hope to gain and work hard to make it happen.

2. Is there any consumer benefit?  Creating a cause marketing partnership will only work when the consumer stands to benefit.  It is the consumer benefit that drives sales and brand awareness, and drives benefit to the cause.  No consumer benefit, and everyone involves usually loses.

3. Is everything transparent?  Even the great work Wyclef Jean has done with Yele Haiti has come under scrutiny.  If you can’t disclose everything about your cause marketing partnerships, you shouldn’t be in them.

4. Is the campaign authentic?  Nike’s “LIVESTRONG” campaign has worked brilliantly because it is wonderfully authentic.  Lance Armstrong is a cancer survivor who has conquered the Tour De France seven times.  Nike’s alignment with Lance and their promotion of “LIVESTRONG” as a brand itself has been very powerful.

5. Is the partnership congruent?  Great cause marketing campaigns involve brands and causes that make sense to the consumer.  Aligning brands with causes that share similar values, goals, and missions is vital.  A Rihanna campaign to reduce violence against women would make perfect sense.  But an Ozzy Osbourne alliance with animal rights might not.

bono, Bruce Springsteen, cause marketing, Dave Matthews, haiti, justin timberlake, Lance Armstrong, Ozzy Osbourne, Rihanna, sting,, wyclef jean 125 Comments

Partnerships: A Currency of Credibility

Jay-Z has Rihanna and Kanye West help out on “Run This Town“.
Kenny Chesney gets help from Dave Matthews on the country hit “I’m Alive“.
Bands like Theory of a Deadman and Marianas Trench are signed to the production company owned by Chad Kroeger of Nickelback.
Friendships? Partnerships? Duets?
Partnerships like this are a strong currency of credibility. Having the right strategic partners gives you an “in” that you might not otherwise have.
Finding partners isn’t tough. But finding the right partner for your brand is a major challenge.
Thanks to Dave Matthews, millions of unlikely prospects will be exposed to Kenny Chesney. And if you are not a country music fan, Kenny Chesney is a pretty mainstream entry point. Suddenly you find yourself realizing that DMB, Wilco, and Phish are only slightly removed musical cousins of Zac Brown, Keith Urban, and Jack Ingram.
Rihanna and Kanye add a mainstream to Jay-Z, who has always held a great deal of street credibility but has gone without a mass-appeal top 40 hit for a few years. What Kanye’s recent negative exploits will do for this song remain to be seen, but the distinctive voice of Rihanna (who gets a sympathy vote for her trials with Chris Brown) really brings this hip hop song into the mainstream.
And you can’t underestimate the value that Chad Kroeger’s name has had on the careers of Marianas Trench and Theory of a Deadman. Nickelback is arguably the biggest hit-making rock band of the decade, and when you have that kind of endorsement it certainly opens plenty of doors (and ears).
What strategic partnerships could you forge to give your brand credibility?
Who could you team up with to open new doors?
Where are the mutual benefits to be found in working with someone else?


The Harley-Davidson partnership with Ford Trucks is a good example. Harley doesn’t make trucks, and Ford doesn’t make bikes. Harley stands for something. Ford Trucks believe they stand for something similar. So the partnership makes sense for them.
Back when The Simpson’s movie came out, 7-11 partnered with Fox to rebrand a bunch of stores as “Kwik-E-Marts”. Did it damage the 7-11 brand? Not at all. Having the guts to poke fun of convenience store stereotypes actually resulted in tremendous publicity for the chain and for the movie. Perect partnership.
Just remember: your brand’s reputation is all you’ve got. Put too much of it in the hands of someone else, and you risk losing all you’ve worked for.
Chad Kroeger, Chris Brown, Dave Matthews, Jack Ingram, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Marianas Trench, Nickelback, Phish, Rihanna, Theory of a Deadman, Wilco, Zac Brown 235 Comments