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 805 Comments

Your Brand Starts With Your Story


Photo by Miguel Saavedra

Bruce Springsteen is the working-class boy who was born to run from the fading factories of New Jersey.

Journey is the band who lost their lead singer, then discovered a perfect sound-alike on YouTube and made him a star.

Lady Gaga is the eccentric art student from New York who combines her love of music with her love of art and fashion.

Led Zeppelin is the band Jimmy Page formed in order to play some gigs that he was hired for, and Keith Moon of The Who told him the band would go over like a “lead zeppelin”.

Every great brand begins with a great story.

I’m a personal fan of Zacapa rum, a brand that tells a truly fantastic story. Their story is “altitude”.

Zacapa rums are aged in what the company calls “the house above the clouds”, 7544 feet above sea level in the mountains of Guatemala. No other rum in the world is aged at such high altitude, where the air is thin, cool, and clean.

Does high-altitude aging make for a better rum? I haven’t got a clue. But it’s a damn good story.

When I meet other rum lovers, I tell them the Zacapa story.

Your brand’s story (and your personal brand’s story) is a talking point. It is a conversation starter. It is word-of-mouth gasoline to set your brand on fire.

Brands without a story are just products.

Take a tour of the Zacapa rum website and see how their high-altitude story is central to everything they do.

Uncover your story | Share your story | Celebrate your story

Follow-up reading:

1. The Bruce Springsteen story

2. How to use storytelling in your advertising to create a “dramatic arc”

3. Part of Bob Dylan’s story is how he borrows from others.

Discover the stories behind some of the greatest rock bands in history, and see how you can put their lessons to work in your business right away. Order your copy of Brand Like A Rock Star in paperback or digital download, with one click right here.




Bruce Springsteen, Journey, Lady GaGa, Led Zeppelin, Uncategorized, Zacapa 4,617 Comments

You Can’t Replace Your Brand Essence: INXS

This week, after 35 years together, INXS called it quits.

You mean INXS was still together?

INXS as we know it sadly ceased to exist on November 22, 1997, when charismatic lead singer and chief songwriter Michael Hutchence was found dead in a Sydney, Australia hotel room.

Only the band failed to realize it. They carried on, touring with Terrence Trent D’Arby (remember “Wishing Well”?) and other interim lead singers. The closest INXS got to a true comeback in 2004 when they took part in the CBS TV series Rock Star: INXS in which various singers competed for the chance to be the new lead singer of the band. The winner was a young Canadian singer named JD Fortune, whose voice held an eerie resemblance to that of the departed Hutchence. With Fortune, the band recorded a new album called Switch. From that album the song “Pretty Vegas” became a minor hit, except in JD Fortune’s home country, where it was a substantial hit thanks in part to government regulations that require radio stations to broadcast a certain level of “Canadian Content”.

A few years ago they released a collection of re-recordings of their earlier hits, each one by a different guest lead singer. Although Pat Monahan from Train did an incredible job on “Beautiful Girl”, but the album was a flop.

Last year they permanently severed JD Fortune and named a new lead singer and released some new songs, but it was a tree falling in the forest.

Such a sad ending to a truly great band.

There was a time in the late 1980s when INXS rivaled U2 as the biggest rock band on the planet. Their album Kick was insanely successful.  They sold out the biggest stadiums. Their string of hits included “Need You Tonight”, “Devil Inside”, “Never Tear Us Apart”, “What You Need”, “Original Sin”, and “Suicide Blonde”.

And their eventual breakup will be a mere footnote in music history

The reason is simple: In the minds of music fans everywhere, INXS had already broken up 15 years ago. Without Michael Hutchence, there was no INXS, no matter how talented the rest of the band might be… and they did make some decent post-Hutchence music.

Led Zeppelin chose not to replace John Bonham when he died in 1980. They quit. Today the value in the Led Zeppelin brand is beyond compare. It will not fade.

Van Halen was able to carry on when David Lee Roth became dead to them. But they couldn’t pull it off when Sammy Hagar left and Gary Cherone walked in. Today Van Halen is a joke.

AC/DC stands out as one of the few bands to replace a highly-visible lead singer and successfully carry on.

There are some parts of your company that are replaceable and interchangeable.

Like Coke’s secret formula, there are other parts of your company that are the essence of what your customers believe you are. You cannot replace those parts and carry on. No matter how good it tasted, New Coke didn’t work.

No matter how good the music was after Michael Hutchence died, INXS was finished.

What parts of your company are irreplaceable?

What is the very essence of your brand? How can you protect it from ever disappearing?


AC/DC, INXS, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen 2,023 Comments

Don’t Give Away Your Credibility


If Led Zeppelin were to reunite again, there wouldn’t be an opening act.

Who would be worthy?

After all, when you open for Led Zeppelin they are giving you their credibility.

You’re on their stage at their concert. Therefore, you are perceived to be (nearly) as good as they are. You are worthy.

That’s what happens when you advertise in the same place, or at the same time, or in the same manner, as all of your competitors… you give them your hard-earned credibility.

Open up the yellow pages, assuming you still have an old-school phone book. Look under “plumber”. Now, there are probably dozens and dozens of plumbers listed there. Some of them are experienced and highly skilled and full of integrity. Some of them aren’t. But the least experienced and lowest quality plumber is right there next to the most experienced and high quality plumber.

Since they are sharing your stage, the perception is that they are somehow equal to you.

That’s why actors pick and choose their roles based on who else is slated to star in the movie.

That’s why bands carefully select their opening acts and tour partners.

When you advertise where your competitors aren’t, you own the stage.

You own the impact.

You own the credibility.

A Rock Star secret to better advertising: Watch the pack mentality in your industry, and run quickly in the opposite direction.

Rock on.

PS – If you haven’t yet bought your paperback or digital copy of Brand Like A Rock Star, you can order it now for immediate delivery. You’ll explore the core marketing strategies of rock’s legends, and learn to apply them to your business.

PPS - This post is a spin off from an earlier post about the follow-the-leader mentality of real estate advertising. You can read that post here.

Now, the incomparable Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin, Uncategorized 269 Comments

R.I.P. R.E.M.


Legendary pop-alt band R.E.M. announced this week that they are calling it quits after over 30 years together.

It is tough to be critical of a band that so eloquently matured without “selling-out”. R.E.M. is one of the bands responsible for bringing alternative rock to the masses. But purely from a business perspective, the band should have quit over a decade ago.  After the incredible Automatic For The People album, things gradually went downhill. They created some great songs after 1994, but their albums lacked consistency and failed to live up to the expectations created by their decade of greatness.

In this fantastic piece in the UK’s Guardian, Dorian Lynskey summed up the band’s challenges wonderfully well. “We carry our entire back catalogue and people’s personal histories with the music with each release we put out,” Stipe told Lynskey. “It makes it harder to kind of cut through.”

Had the band broke up in the mid-1990s, they would have gone out on top. Had they ended things when drummer Bill Berry left the band in 1997, their legacy would be stellar, and nobody would question their relevance. Sadly, after fifteen years worth of mediocre material, people will need to be reminded of their greatness.

That reality isn’t lost on lead singer Michael Stipe, who joked “It’s just like me to overstay my welcome.”

Your brand has a life span. At the very least, your brand has as life cycle.

Brands that understand that and go out with grace often become nostalgia brands. We lobby for their revival. The Volkswagen Beetle is a good example. So is Led Zeppelin.

Stick around past your prime, and we forget how good you once were. Oldsmobile falls into that category. Let’s hope R.E.M. doesn’t.

The new book Brand Like A Rock Star is now available, and it is full of lessons from rock ‘n’ roll to help make your business rich and famous.

If you’d like to go deeper into the bands discussed, the “Musical Companion” is worth checking out if you have a Kindle.


Led Zeppelin, REM, Volkswagen 1,335 Comments

Making Your Marketing Message Singular: A Lesson from Led Zeppelin


Led Zeppelin defined hard rock.

They were formed by accident. Jimmy Page needed a band to play some Scandanavian concerts that his former band, The Yardbirds, were under contract to perform. He found a group of musicians to be the “New” Yardbirds, and they instantly connected in a special way. After the Scandanavian gigs, they recorded they debut album in nine days and became Led Zeppelin.

And they rocked. Hard.

Songs like “Whole Lotta Love”, “Rock ‘n Roll”, “Black Dog”, and “Immigrant Song” tend to define their career.

Yet Zeppelin was soft. Very.

Tender songs like “Tangerine”, “Going to California”, “Thank You”, and “Your Time Is Gonna Come” resonate with people four decades later.

From a business perspective, there’s a cool lesson here: No matter what you do, go the distance. Be singular in your focus.

When you rock, rock hard. Peel paint off the studio walls.

When you go soft, go all the way. Create baby-makin’ music.

So many marketing messages are crowded with mixed messages. Brands are seduced into trying to describe every aspect of their business in a 60-second radio commercial. Newspaper ads are crowded with every piece of information a customer could ever want about a business. Businesses use one ad to promote products, service, price, warranties, location, hours, websites, Facebook profiles, and every other imaginable aspect of their brand.

It is pretty hard to be “hard” and “soft” in the same song, and it is even tougher to be five different things in one ad. If you have five things to say, you need five ads (just make sure all five things are congruent with your branding strategy).

The more singular you make your marketing message, the greater chance that it will connect with someone on a level powerful enough to inspire them to take action. And that is what advertising is all about.

If you enjoyed this post and are passionate about music and business, please consider subscribing to Brand Like A Rock Star by email. I will never share your contact info. You can also subscribe by RSS feed using the button on the upper right portion of the page.

Led Zeppelin 220 Comments

A Fresh Set Of Eyes

Last summer I sent the manuscript for the book Brand Like A Rock Star to various agents and publishers, and was rewarded with a nearly-equal number of rejection letters.

Fortunately, one publishing company expressed interest. I met with them in the fall.

When I sent them my book in the summer, I felt that it was an almost-finished product. I figured a little editing would help, but the book was essentially done. They didn’t feel the same way. They liked what I wrote, but they figured it was more of an e-book at that point. They felt it needed a lot of additional content to qualify as a “real” book and they suggested some angles I could take. Somewhat reluctantly, I took their advice and sat down to work on a project that I had mentally already put away. Over the next few months, I amazed myself and more than doubled the word count with solid content. No filler! It turns out that their advice was right!

A few weeks ago I sent them the revised manuscript for Brand Like A Rock Star. This time, I was certain, the book was done. Complete. Fini. Yesterday they sent me their thoughts. Apparently I was wrong. I’m not quite done yet. While they seem to be thrilled with the progress I’ve made, they’ve suggested additional changes that I didn’t expect.

The cool thing this time around is that my mind is open. I’ve seen the difference their third-party input can make on a project that I’m very close to.  This time around, I’m actually very excited to work on the changes they are suggesting.

That’s the benefit of a second set of eyes, or ears, on a project.  When you are very close to something, like your own business or brand, you sometimes get too close to it. You start to lose sight of what your project looks like in the bigger world, seeing only what it means to you and your world.

That’s why The Beatles had George Martin.

That’s the difference Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno made on The Joshua Tree.

It is what Jimmy Miller did for Exile On Main Street, Goat’s Head Soup, and Sticky Fingers.

It is how Ahmet Ertegun influenced Led Zeppelin, Crobsy Stills Nash and Young, Percy Sledge, and Otis Redding… among many, many others.

Are you willing to take a few steps back, and let a fresh set of eyes look at your brand?

Rock stars have producers, sound engineers, and guitar techs. Rock star brands have consultants, advisors, and confidants.

Who is your brand’s George Martin?

If you enjoyed this post and are passionate about music and business, please consider subscribing to Brand Like A Rock Star by email. I only publish once or twice a week on average and will never share your contact info. You can also subscribe by RSS feed using the button on the upper right portion of the page.

Ahmet Ertegun, Brian Eno, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Daniel Lanois, George Martin, Jimmy Miller, Joshua Tree, Led Zeppelin, Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, The Beatles 195 Comments

A Time To Die…

If you’re passionate about great bands and great brands, please click here to subscribe to Brand Like A Rock Star by email. You can also download the free e-book “Three Chords in Thirty Years: How AC/DC Built The Model For Brand Consistency” here:

That lyric, lifted from the classic Byrds song “Turn Turn Turn”, applies nicely to brands and bands.

Sometimes, it is just time to cash in your chips and go home.

Law #21 in The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al and Laura Ries is “The Law of Mortality”.  No brand lives forever.  Sometimes euthanasia is the best option.  Sometimes a brand that has been dead for a while actually has a chance to rise again, once the negatives associated with it have disappeared and only positive nostalgia remains.

It happens all of the time in the music industry.  Bands break up.  Often they break up long before their brand equity dictates that they should.  Early break-ups leave us wanting more.  The Beatles and Led Zeppelin are examples of bands that left us wondering what could have been.

In some cases, bands don’t break up soon enough.  They end up touring the world, playing undersized venues to fading (and aging) crowds.  The band’s brand value slowly diminishes as they beat themselves into a faint shade of what they once were because of over-exposure and negative exposure.  Bands like The Guess Who and Creedence Clearwater Revisited are two examples.  The Guess Who continues to play without Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman, since they don’t own the name.  Bachman and Cummings tour together under their own names instead.  CCR continues to play despite John Fogerty’s absence, and only the original rhythm section intact.  Each night they play, the brand value of The Guess Who and CCR fades a little more.

Are you brave enough to kill your own brand?

If you are brave enough, are you aware enough of your brand’s equity to know when the time is right?

What brands do you wish still existed… brands that left us wanting more?  I have a Pan-Am t-shirt to remember that classic brand.

What brands over-stayed their welcome?  Saturn left us long after they lost the magic of their brand.

While you consider that, enjoy Springsteen and Roger McGuinn of The Byrds with this version of “Turn Turn Turn”.

Burton Cummings, Byrds, CCR, John Fogerty, Led Zeppelin, Randy Bachman, The Beatles, The Guess Who 104 Comments

What You Don’t Say Says A Lot


It was week two of the NFL season, and I was at Invesco Field at Mile High to watch Denver take on Seattle.  It wasn’t even close, but like most fans I stayed until the very end.

I went to a movie the other night.  It sucked, but I stayed until the very end.  I didn’t see anyone else leave either, but everyone I spoke to still hated it.


The human mind hates the incomplete.  We strive to draw conclusions, figure things out, and wrap them up in a nice package that makes sense.

If the human mind seeks completion, it stands to reason that the incomplete challenges the mind and engages it.

Remember the powerful silence near the end of “Animal” by Def Leppard?  The entire song comes to an abrupt halt leaving nothing but silence for slightly longer than seems natural, before Joe Elliot screams “… and I want…” and the song carries on for 10 more seconds.
“Living On The Edge” by Aerosmith did the same thing, as did “The Look” by Roxette.

Of course we can’t forget ”Strawberry Fields Forever”, a Beatles classic that fades out and leaves only silence behind, and then gradually fades back in again.  As a radio DJ it was painful to watch the VU meters sink down to nothing for several seconds during that song!

Incomplete is a pretty powerful tool.  Visually, it is known as white space. FedEx used white space to create the famous arrow in their logo.  You’ve never noticed the arrow?  Have a look at the incomplete space between the “e” and the “x” in their logo below.  You’ll never see that logo again without noticing the arrow.

Toblerone chocolates is another logo that famously uses the white space.  They are made in Bern, Switzerland.  “Bern” means “bear” in English, so they’ve creatively worked a bear into the white space of their mountain logo.

So many brands are afraid of the incomplete!  Volkswagen bravely used white space and an incomplete look in their early print campaigns, and as a result they created award-winning and attention-getting creative that helped make the Beetle a massive success.

Fear not the incomplete. Use it to your advantage.

What you leave out speaks volumes.

DaVinci and Michaelangelo were not afraid of the incomplete.  Nor were Led Zeppelin or The Beatles.  And a cult-brand burger shack in the southwestern US has made a business out of it.  You can read more about the power of the incomplete in this piece from March 2010.

Or if you’d prefer to rock out 80′s style, you can sit back and wait for the famous silence 3:55 into this Def Leppard classic.

Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Denver Broncos, FedEx, Led Zeppelin, Roxette, The Beatles, Toberlone, Volkswagen 1,113 Comments

Celebrating The Brand, Not Recreating It: Jason Bonham

If you’re passionate about great bands and great brands, please click here to subscribe to Brand Like A Rock Star by email. You can also join the discussion on Facebook.


For a far-too-short moment, it looked like it might actually happen. 

Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham performed as Led Zeppelin for one magical night in December of 2007.  It was one of the rock era’s most anticipated shows, and the post-show buzz about a long-term reunion wouldn’t go away. Even after Robert Plant clearly stated he wouldn’t be part of a reunion tour, Page, Jones, and Bonham continued to jam together with various lead singers.  Eventually, after months of speculation, the project fizzled.

Behind the scenes, Jason Bonham was devasted.  He had come to anticipate being part of a reunion project, and having it fall apart was a major blow to the son of original Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.

Jason spent a few months wondering what to do, and then it hit him.  He isn’t Led Zeppelin, but as the son of one of the band members, he is intimately familiar with the band.  His perspective is unique and intriguing, and it is about to come to the stage in “Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience”.

According to Bonham, this will not be a tribute show.  Nobody will be dressed up like Page and Plant.  Instead, Bonham plans to tell personal stories about growing up surrounded by the madness that was Led Zeppelin.  Using technology, he will have a chance to jam with his late father on “Moby Dick” and “When The Levee Breaks”.  The show will include intimate stories, video, and audio from the young life of Jason Bonham and will celebrate the life of his legendary father.

From a branding point of view, I think this is interesting – in a positive way.

“Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience” is not being sold to anyone as Led Zeppelin, so nobody is buying fake goods.  Instead, it is a fresh perspective on a band that the world just can’t seem to ever get enough of.

As long as Jason Bonham never tries to pass this off as the “new” Led Zeppelin, this should be an interesting project.

Like last year’s Star Trek movie, which never pretended to be the old Star Trek.

Like pro sports teams who wear special retro-jerseys to pay tribute to old teams, yet never try to be those old teams.

Like ABBA creating the “Mamma Mia” musical, but never trying to capture the same on-stage magic from the 1970′s.

Sadly, some bands fail to respect it.  Creedence Clearwater Revisited tries to pass off CCR without John Fogerty.  Can’t be done.  The Guess Who fraudulently tour around without Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman, who instead play together under their own names.  That’s exactly what Jason Bonham won’t be doing.

Brands that can respect the past, without trying in vain to recreate it, can revive interest and passion.  Brands that attempt to fool us with fake ingredients or replacement parts usually serve to further damage the brand.

This video of Jason and John Bonham shows just how engaging this tour could potentially be.

ABBA, Jason Bonham, Led Zeppelin, Star Trek 217 Comments