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

Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down


Lennon had McCartney.

Jagger has Richards.

Kanye has Jay Z.

Who in your world makes you noticably better?

There are two kinds of people in the world. A good friend of mine calls them “keys” and “locks”. “Keys” are people who open doors for you and in you. They make what you do better. “Locks” attempt to shut you down. They don’t get it.

Rock stars find collaborators who are “keys”.

If you want your business to be successful, you need to do the same thing.

One thing rock stars are famous for, and hip hop stars even more famous for, is their entourage. Rock stars surround themselves with people who enrich their lives. They eliminate people who don’t. The result is an environment where great things happen. Legendary songs are written. Magic happens.

Certainly business success isn’t as simple as just surrounding yourself with good people, but I can guarantee that it will be a hell of a lot harder to build a winning brand if you surround yourself with nay-sayers, negativity, and pessimists.

“Locks” are out there. They are inevitable. You need to deal with them swiftly and decisively. Get rid of them. If you can’t get rid of them completely, illegitimi non carborundum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.


Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rolling Stones, The Beatles 745 Comments

Make It Personal

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Rumor is that Taylor Swift, famous for writing songs about her personal relationships and experiences, has written a song about Kanye West and she plans to sing it at the MTV Music Awards tonight.

You probably remember last year, when Kanye stormed the stage after Taylor win the Best Female Video award.  Kanye grabbed the microphone from a stunned Swift and said that the award should have gone to Beyonce.  In the ensuring days and weeks, West felt an extreme backlash and disappeared from the spotlight.

Taylor Swift, meanwhile, has continued her meteoric rise and recently released the first single from her new album.  That song, “Mine”, is already a major hit on the pop and country charts.

Swift has endeared herself to fans through honest songs that are close to her heart.  She’s openly joked that it is hard to find people to date her because of her reputation for writing songs about her heartbreaks.

Brands that connect on a personal level always win.

When I ordered my last iPod through the Apple website, I had a quote from John Lennon engraved on the back.  It was a quote I chose, and the engraving was free.  There is no iPod quite like that one anywhere on earth.  Today my iPhone has a selection of apps that are personal to me.  My friends and coworkers have a different selection of apps, all personal to them.

Many sports manufacturers allow you to personalize your gear, creating equipment in your team colors or your personal favorite colors.  There will be no equipment exactly like yours anywhere.

Through social media sites you can now create an internet experience that is personal to you.  You can wake up to an on-line newspaper that is customized to your personal tastes, interests, and sources.

Smart brands today are like Taylor Swift.  They engage their fans on a personal level.  They communicate in connective language, not transactional words.  By revealing themselves to the world on a human level, they give us the chance to bond with them.  After all, people don’t bond with products or companies.  We bond with other people. 

If you expect your brand to connect with people, you need to find a way to make it human.

Apple, John Lennon, Kanye West, MTV, Social Media, Taylor Swift 2,006 Comments

Mea Culpa


It was another watershed Hugh Grant moment.

The day after making the unwise decision to storm on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards and steal the microphone from Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech, Kanye West was scheduled to appear on the first episode of the new 10pm Jay Leno Show.

With almost 18 million viewers, it appears the Gods of Timing smiled on Jay Leno once again.

Flashback to 1995. The week before the release of his movie “Nine Months”, Hugh Grant was busted for lewd conduct in a public place when LAPD caught him engaged in the act with prostitute Divine Brown.

Grant was already booked on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Despite urges to cancel, Grant kept the interview. The result was a moment that defined Jay Leno’s show and set the stage for Grant to continue to have a succesful show biz career.

As Grant got comfortable on the couch, Jay turned to him and asked one simple question.

“What the hell were you thinking?”

Grant paused, and then replied “I think you know in life what’s a good thing to do and a bad thing, and I did a bad thing. And there you have it.”

That willingness to take responsibility and accountability allowed audiences to forgive Hugh Grant, and his career wasn’t derailed.

Can the same be said for Kanye West’s apology on Monday night?

Kanye did seem sincere, and was near tears at one point.

But the difference was that Leno had to coax it out of him with a seemingly contrived and somewhat insensitive question about how Kanye’s late mother would have reacted to his actions.

The result will likely be the same. Kanye West will be forgiven and move along with a succesful career.

Being responsible, and responsive, has never been more important.

In ’95 when Hugh Grant had his moment of indiscretion, there was not an internet (at least as we know it today) and definitely no Twitter or blogosphere to cover every breaking story. There was no way for public outrage to be so easily expressed and swayed.

Remember the Tylenol poisoning scandal of 1982? The product was literally killing people and nobody knew why. Instead of telling the world that it wasn’t their fault (and it wasn’t), Tylenol went forward with an aggressive campaign to pull all of their products from stores, hospitals, and clinics.

Even though only Extra Strength Capsules were poisoned, they removed everything with their name on it.

Even though only Chicago residents had died, they removed everything worldwide. No exceptions.

Tylenol held regular press conferences to update their customers and they were present during the police investigation.

Tylenol then took an industry lead in developing tamper-proof packaging and “gel-caps” that were more secure against tampering.

After the scandal, Tylenol dropped from the category leader to a 9% market share of the pain relief market.

Within a year, they were once again the market leader.

To this day, the person who tainted the Tylenol and poisoned 7 people to death was never caught. And to this day, Tylenol once again controls about 35% of the pain relief market in North America.

The lessons of Kanye West, Hugh Grant, and Tylenol are wise to keep in mind when your brand faces a crisis.

* Be transparent – talk honestly about the issues and don’t try and hide behind others.

* Communicate – use the incredible social networking tools at your disposal to talk to your customers.

* Take responsibility – failure is a temporary state. By admitting to mistakes and failures, you actually have the opportunity to gain trust in the long run.

* Take charge – be Tylenol and lead the way in creating systems to prevent future failures.

Here’s an example of taking responsibility from Maple Leaf Foods, a Canadian meat company that was responsible for a tainted meat scandal last year that killed several people.

Hugh Grant, Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Tylenol 7,064 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