I don’t know a whole lot about Jonathan Coulton, but I was recently sucked into a video for the song “Shop Vac.” Not knowing whether this was a commercial or song, my curiosity told me to investigate a little closer. One view of this video, I was entertained by the typography animation and the catchy-ness of the song, itself. I was also very amused. I hope you will be too as you watch this and feel free to check out his site for more musical mischief…
I’ve been a bit reflective lately about life. That is why this song from Buddy Guy’s recently released CD Living Proof really struck me. It’s a collaboration between Buddy and fellow blues legend B.B. King. I really love the reflective tone in the lyrics and the sense of gratitude that these legends express throughout the song. But I especially like the last minute of this video where B.B. and Buddy exchange some thoughts over the tasty blues licks and the touching statement at the end when B.B. King says to Buddy Guy, “when I’m pushing up daisies, don’t forget you’re still my Buddy.”
Enjoy your weekend!
I’m not going to lie, these are tough times. I’m dealing with a few things on the home front that really make it hard for me to remember my word for the year, which is “laughter.” I’m not sure I’m ready to address these here on my blog at this time, but perhaps I will in the future. But I know that I’m not the only one going through a few tough times…everywhere I turn, good friends are dealing with some incredible challenges in their lives. Sometimes these challenges can seem overwhelming and scary. Sometimes these challenges never seem like they’ll go away.
Today, while I was grabbing a coffee and listening to my MP3 player, I stumbled upon this song by P.O.D. Sometimes a song hits you with an incredible force and today that was the case with me and this song. There really is no video for it that I’m aware of, but feel free to give this song a listen – the lyrics are pretty amazing. And if you’re going through tough times, all I can say is hang in there.
There are a lot of books from marketing professionals providing a wealth of information about how we can better market our products, services and even ourselves.Â While most of these books offer a great deal of wisdom and insight, one marketing book I read recently captured my attention from a unique perspective – Marketing Lessons From the Grateful Dead.
Truth be told, I’m a bit of a Grateful Dead fan myself having been introduced to the band by a friend of mine in college. I still remember walking into his dorm room for the first time and being greeted by this strange music coming from the large speakers and the sight of cassette tapes lined up across his book shelves. I grew to enjoy and appreciate their music and ended up going to about 10 Grateful Dead concerts, including their last show at Soldier Field. I never saw them in their “prime,” but I consider each of their shows a really amazing, interesting experience.
The book was written by two Deadheads, David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan, who identified numerous marketing innovations in the way that the Grateful Dead promoted themselves and their music. I can’t share all of them here, but here’s a few that stand out:
1. Create a Unique Business Model
While most bands go on tour to promote their latest record, the Grateful Dead focused on generating revenue through their tours. And because they changed their set list every night, fans were treated to a unique show every night of the tour. Grateful Dead fans went out of their way to see as many shows as possible and pack into their VW vans to tour with them.
2. Experiment Experiment Experiment
Like jazz musicians, the Grateful Dead approached their music with the spirit of improvisation. This meant that no show, no song was performed the same. It also meant that some shows really stood out as “classic” and others were not so classic. From a marketing perspective, experimentation and trying new things is as important as ever. Marketing textbooks can provide important information on promoting your product or service, but ultimately, every situation is unique and should be treated that way.
3. Build a Following
One of the primary ways the Grateful Dead built a following is through their mailing list. Starting in the 1970’s, concert attendees and fans could sign up on the GD mailing list. This allowed fans to receive the latest news first and included concert information and opportunities to order the best seats for concerts before they were available to the general public. From a marketing perspective, its important for you to connect with your most passionate fans so that they have exclusive opportunities to buy your product or service before the more “casual” fans.
4. Free Your Content
The Grateful Dead allowed their fans to tape their concerts, even setting up areas at each stadium to set up recording equipment. This was (and still is) very unconventional in the music business. Instead of losing business from this, the band gained a new, larger following. Thinking back on it, I got into the Grateful Dead because my college buddy was able to trade concert tapes, which allowed me to hear some of their greatest musical moments. From a marketing perspective, offering products and services for free is a very controversial topic. I’m not going to say free is something for every business. But the idea here, I believe, is to create a business, product or service so compelling that offering something for free will actually bring more customers and lead to more business. It worked for the Grateful Dead.
There’s plenty that I’ve left out. In general this book is a quick, informative read that would be of great value to anyone thinking about starting or currently running a business. I also think that music fans and fans of the Grateful Dead would enjoy the book. I enjoyed the fact that the authors provided real world examples of some of the Grateful Dead’s lessons. For instance, in the chapter on freeing your content, the authors briefly examined how MySQL used its open source software to grow into a powerful organization, which was ultimately purchased by Sun Microsystems for $1 billion.
I really enjoyed this book and learning how the Grateful Dead’s “long, strange trip” was helped in strong part to some interesting, innovative marketing decisions.
Growing up, I learned about love from my family, especially my parents and grandparents. I learned through their actions (and sacrifices) and their words (“I love you”). Looking back I feel incredibly fortunate to have grown up in such a loving family where I always felt that people cared for me.
But there was another kind of love that I was clueless about when I was younger – romantic love. Like most kids I learned (or thought that I learned) about love through music, especially rock and roll. One of my earliest memories of romantic love happened when I watched the ever-popular movie of the time, Grease. I still remember the scene where Sandy, played by Olivia Newton-John sang the ballad “Hopelessly Devoted to You” to Danny, played by John Travolta. While I could sense the love and devotion of the characters, I was absolutely clueless about love.
Around that time, I remember a very famous love song that my mother used to play all the time, Debbie Boone’s “You Light Up My Life.” I knew it was a love song by the mood and tone of the music, but I had no idea what “light” had to do with it. And I knew is that it sounded cheesy and really sappy. If this song was about love, I wanted no part of it.
Another love song I remember hearing on the radio back in those early days was 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love,” a crazy, trippy song that caught my attention every time it played in the car. Whatever love was, the singer kept saying – even shouting at times, that he wasn’t in love. I was still oblivious to (pardon the Huey Lewis song reference) the power of love at that point in my life.
Also around that time, while hanging with my friends, we threw on their parents’ early Journey album which featured “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.” While I knew what love was, I didn’t know that it also involved touching and squeezing. What was that all about? I also remember listening to early Foreigner and their song “Waiting for a Girl Like You.” It was a love song…I could tell by the tender, soft mood of the song and mention of a surviving love. But I had no clue what the songwriter was “waiting” for or even that love could survive or even not survive, for that matter.
By the time I was a teenager, I began to understand more about romantic love. I’d heard hundreds of love songs by that point in my life. Which reminds me of a Frank Zappa book I read in my teen years, The Real Frank Zappa Book. I barely knew who he was when I read it but I remember something Zappa wrote that stuck with me (I am paraphrasing here): love songs are, single-handedly, responsible for most of the depression and psychological problems that adults face. While he may have exaggerated this a bit, he might have been onto something.
I was also beginning to learn a little about love through the music I listened to. I remember a song off Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason called “One Slip,” which had an interesting line that has always stuck with me:
“Was it love or was it the idea of being in love?”
Wow, that was deep! As a teenager, this profound thought hit me at an important time. That song somehow planted a seed to help me distinguish between real, genuine love and infatuation. It also forced me to question whether the love in my life at that point was genuine. I figured out pretty fast that it probably wasn’t.
Another of my favorite bands from my teen years, Queensryche, also wrote a song about love that made me think – “I Don’t Believe In Love” off their platinum-selling concept album, Operation: Mindcrime. It was a bit disturbing to hear their singer, Geoff Tate, profess that he didn’t believe in love. ‘Huh, you don’t believe in love? Are you crazy?’ I thought. I later realized that it was the character in the concept album who believed this after learning that the woman he loved died. By that time, I was learning that while love could be a wonderful thing, it could also be challenging and painful.
Now that I’m older, I take the lyrics in “love songs” with a grain of salt. These days, “love songs” have become more explicit and the lines between love and lust have become blurred. In some ways, I worry about our youth being exposed to all of this. But I suppose our parents and grandparents felt this way when Elvis was popular.
Say what you will about love songs, they aren’t going away anytime soon. These songs can offer us an opportunity to feel the beauty of love and sometimes its complexities and pain. But if you listen closely, you might hear some nuggets of wisdom that you can somehow apply to your life situation and possibly provide some comfort.
Creative commons photo courtesy of suchitra prints.
Ryan Knorr has been churning out cover tunes that are as good or better than the original tunes for a few years now. This cover version of City and Colour’s “Sensible Heart” is another example of a song that falls into that category. You might remember that I featured his original tune “What About Me” on 360 Degree Self (check it out here) last October.
I’m happy to report that Ryan just released his first full-length album a couple weeks ago and it is called The Path of Greatest Resistance. While I don’t own a copy – yet, I’ve been mesmerized by his voice and music ever since I stumbled upon a cover version of a Shinedown song. Apparently others have been mesmerized too as Ryan’s videos have been viewed more than 1.5 million times.
If you like this song, please visit Ryan’s YouTube Channel here or check out his website to listen to and purchase his new CD. There are plenty of things in this world I’m not sure about anymore, but I’m sure that Ryan is a great singer, a talented musician and that he deserves a lot more attention.