Nintendo gets it.
1. Create demand.
2. Create scarcity.
3. Reap profits.
That is the formula they used to create hype for the Nintendo Wii.
And it is the lesson learned from comparing two legendary classic rock acts: The Who and Led Zeppelin. Both have created amazing catalogs of music that will remain influential for generations to come. Both bands also lost key members around the same time.
Led Zeppelin lost drummer John Bonham in 1980.
The Who lost drummer Keith Moon in 1978.
That’s where their paths diverge.
After losing John Bonham, Led Zeppelin called it quits. They have played together for only two public shows since then. They reunited for Live Aid with Phil Collins on drums. After agreeing that their performance wasn’t up to standards, they refused to let any of the footage be used in the future album and video release of the event. Their next public performance was last December at O2 Arena in London. In between, they played two private shows; the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Party and their own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction.
On the other hand, The Who kept going full steam ahead after Keith Moon died. They replaced him right away, recorded two albums, and then decided to break up. But not before a highly-publicized farewell tour that ended in December 1982 at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens.
Like Zeppelin, they reunited for a one-time performance at Live Aid in 1985.
Then they got back together in 1988 for a 25th Anniversary “Kids Are All Right” Tour. That was the “new” farewell tour.
Then in 1996, they hit the road again playing songs from “Quadrophenia“.
They had so much fun in ’96 that the following summer they went out on a full-fledged tour across the UK and North America. Pete Townshend announced at that time that he wanted to keep the band active.
And active they were, touring as a five-piece band in 1989 on a full world tour.
During the summer of 2002, The Who planned to go on tour once again. But that spring, bass player John Entwistle was found dead in Las Vegas.
That wasn’t going to stop The Who. They found new bassist Pino Palladino and hit the road for their planned 2002 tour.
After recording their first studio album since 1982, they went back on tour to support it through most of 2006 and 2007.
On one hand, you have to give The Who credit for surviving the death of two members and continuing on through adversity.
But by continuing to go on tour and record new material, The Who have not created any scarcity for their product. When they go out on tour, there isn’t a mad rush to see them anymore. After all, chances are good they’ll go back out on tour again next year. And if you are a hard core fan, is The Who really The Who without Keith Moon and John Entwistle?
Led Zeppelin has brilliantly created scarcity. Their show last year was legendary and fans around the world rushed to pick up tickets, knowing it may be the only chance they ever get to see Led Zeppelin live in concert.
By breaking up when John Bonham died, the band showed a tremendous level of respect to their fans. They recognized they were a team, and the team wasn’t going to be the same without Bonham. In their touching press release in December of 1980, they said “We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were.”
And last year, when rumors of a Led Zeppelin tour were running wild, Robert Plant put them to rest by stating “The whole idea of being on a cavalcade of merciless repetition is not what it’s all about. However, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to play together from time to time.”
A Led Zeppelin concert is a scarcity.
A Who concert isn’t.
And therefore the demand for each is very different.