Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Music marketing ideas for DIY artists, managers, promoters and music biz pros


August 15, 2007

Legendary Music Marketing: David Lee Roth Style

I'm a big fan of Brian Clark's Copyblogger site. I don't refer to it much here because it's mostly geared toward bloggers and marketing copywriters (although you'd benefit greatly from reading it). But Brian's latest post is perfect for indie music promoters of all kinds.
It's called The David Lee Roth Guide to Legendary Marketing, inspired by the recent announcement that Van Halen will be going back on tour with Diamond Dave. Here are some of my favorite parts:

The key to legendary marketing is to give people what they really want, rather than what you think they should want ... David Lee Roth told people a story he knew they wanted to hear, and then he lived the story full tilt ...

Sell Something Big

At first blush, it might seem that the product a rock band sells is music, but that's not entirely true. These days, the abuses of the recording industry are well known, so it might not surprise you to learn that despite selling tens of millions of records, Van Halen remained dirt poor for several years after breaking out big.

Bands make their money from concerts and merchandise, because the labels are not involved. Roth handled Van Halen's entire merchandising strategy, and he knew the band needed to sell something bigger than music. His persona helped fuel the strategy. Most bands can sell a few t-shirts to fans, but you don’t achieve the success enjoyed by the ubiquitous Van Halen logo in the late 70s and early 80s with just the tunes.

Roth knew you have to give people something to believe in that they desperately want to associate themselves with. You've got to sell something big, and Roth knew no other way ...

This sentence in particular is gold:

The key to legendary marketing is not what you say about yourself, but what your fans say about you.

Do yourself a favor and read Brian's entire post. Then check out the Roth Army site for an example of what fanatical fans can do (including the hilarious Sammy Hagar random insult generator).

So, what are your fans saying about you? And, what do your fans want, and how are you delivering it to them?

-Bob

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