kid rock

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Music in Advertsing.

It is that time of year when people start talking about the “bests.” In advertising, most agree the two best spots are Deutsch’s Darth Vader spot for Volkswagen and Wieden and Kennedy’s Chrysler ad with Eminen “Imported From Detroit.”  Both are car ads but in my opinion what sets these spectacular efforts apart is the use of music.

Music was once a much bigger part of advertising than it is today. Often, it’s a throw-away now.  Big ad agencies used to have large music departments with recording studios, op boards and lots of seats for musicians to sit in while awaiting auditions.  Today music departments are on someone’s computer. When the spot is 65% complete someone might ask “What kind of music bed do we need?”

Muscle memory is something I always have my clients aspire to in branding and advertising.  Associate your work with clear ideas, images, turns-of-a-phrase or something to hum.  When I hear Eminem these days I’m ready to buy Detroit. To buy Chrysler. I’m thinking Kid Rock and “In it to win it like Yserman.” Imported From Detroit was is a brilliant brand strategy – but the spot was even better.  Poetry and music are still the best ways to deliver a sale. Peace.  And RIP Police Officer Peter Figoski.

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Chrysler paid back over $7B in loans to the U.S. government yesterday.  Did they just have than money laying around?  That s lot of Benjamins.  Did they just borrow if from a sheik?  No they earned it. Blocking and tackling my friends.  Rekindling old loyalties me droogies.  Fixing the product, getting the right new people in place and fixing the message. When Daimler moved into the Chrysler brand, they tried to do all these things but couldn’t.  Fiat and the U.S. marketing stewards did.  And now they have da monies.

Good blocking and tackling.  Just like Ford did.  I knew the Fiat move would be a good one…meep meep.  The company is known for stylish small cars, just what the economy ordered. But Chrysler is also making a move with Dodge, which is a bit more of a surprise. Hemis and un-mommy mini vans and a return of the muscle car for real motor heads (Can you say Challenger?).  This is Dodge’s sweet spot.

Marketers are not talking about Chrysler in terms of cools social programs a la Ford, they are watching the rebirth of a company through focus on the 4Ps. Roots baby.  Eminem baby.  Where’s Kid Rock? GM is blocking, but I’m not so sure they’re tackling.  The foreign value brands are pretty much growing a bit over the pace of the market. Ford may want to look over its shoulder — is it losing its hunger? Is it placating the dealers once again?  Come on Chrysler. It’s pay back time! Peddle down. Peace.

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nook 2

“Hi! I’m Kate. And this is my Nook.” says the pretty pitch women on a video introducing Barnes and Noble’s brand new eReader today. A video I arrived at thanks to a beautiful spread page ad in The New York Times, the headline for which promised me “The World’s Most Advanced eBook Reader.” With little ad copy I had to move to the website to see why Kate’s Nook was most advanced. Print ads now make big claims and drive you to the web for the proof, which is smart (ish) — the web clearly offering a richer landscape for storytelling.

Since usability is such an important sales science on the web, I looked at how the landing page is organized to see if it is, indeed, going to tell the “most advanced” story. To wit: We land on a nice product shot page with the most choose-able option being a 360 degree tour button. (For nerds and returnees, there are other visible options: Overview, Features, Accessories, Blog, Support.) The 360 Tour simply turns the Nook around and stands it on end. The next nav options are also quite clear…and over the fold. They’re numbered, sequenced and read left-to-right: 1. Meet nook. 2. Read clearly. 3. Get ebooks in seconds. 4. Endless shelf space. 5. Read for days. 6. Make it yours. 7. Watch video. It’s interesting that the video is last. Also smart.

Overall, the website deserves good usability grades. It’s clean, well thought out and organized — albeit a little low key. Where it falls down is in creating muscle memory for the “most advanced” idea. And that my friends is my Nook. Peace!

PS. Don’t be surprised if Kate’s words “and this is my Nook” find their way into the popular culture. As Kid Rock would say “or all the wrong reasons.”

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Apple announced yesterday that Sony, Universal and Warner have finally joined EMI and will do away with DRM (digital rights management) allowing digital songs, once purchased, to be copied to other devices.  In addition, variable pricing was announced that will allow some songs to be sold for $.69, more popular songs to be sold at $.99, while the most popular, most desirable will retail for $1.29. Smart pricing idea, but I suspect it will only chip away at revenue erosion. The new pricing logic suggests people are more apt to buy a marginally interesting song at $.66 than at $.99. Can’t disagree.

My problem with all this – and Kid Rock agrees – is that if consumers are allowed to buy only one or two songs from an album then they are not getting the artist’s full intended experience. And if that becomes the case, listeners are less likely to become rabid, loyal fans.  And with ringtones allowing the purchase of 30 seconds of a song, we are deconstructing the art even further.  This whole deconstruction thing and new variable pricing scheme is dinging the music business more than the doofy record executives. It’s a case where technology is hurting the art and the artist. Peace!


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What’s the idea with CD revenue? Atlantic Records digital sales just exceeded CD sales. Revenue is growing from ringtones, ringbacks, licensing from TV shows and satellite radio. Revenue from expensive-to-press and expensive-to-distribute CDs is plunging. But as I’ve said before, the real rub for artists and the real villain in the reduction of music revenue is single song sales. If Lil Wayne only has 5 songs on your iPod, rather than 3 albums worth, you are missing out on the total Lil Wayne experience.  Plus you are more likely to burn out.

Smart artists like Kid Rock want you to buy the whole album. He’s got lots of stories to tell. Lots of rhymes. A fan who listens to all of “Rock and Roll Jesus, not just “All Summer Long,” will become a more loyal fan of Kid Rock. A more committed fan. A more viral fan. A drunk-dialing fan. A ticket buying fan. S/he knows what the record execs will know in about 2 years. (Record execs are a little slow, if you haven’t noticed.) Single song sales are killing the business.  Peace!


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Kid Rock is an American treasure. The real deal. Whether raunchy or mellifluous (listen to “Picture" with Sheryl Crow,) Kid sings his ass off. He also cares about and understands the music business. Read some of his exchanges with noted music blogger Bob Lefsetz as proof. Yesterday Kid ended his long hold-out allowing Rhapsody to sell his music digitally. Until this deal, you had to buy Kid Rock music … bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy… on CDs.  


One provision of the the deal is that you must buy full albums. Very smart. The single cut is killing artist loyalty.  If you don’t listen to a whole album you can’t truly get an artist. Plus burn-out on a song and artist is more likely when listening only to select cuts.  The single digital download why more and more one-hit-wonders are emerging. Kid Rock knows this. Peace!



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Memo to the music industry.

It’s no surprise that the music industry is in the dumps. 2007 CD sales were at 1994 levels. Here’s what needs to happen: Sony, Universal, EMI, and Warner need to keep selling CDs. They also need to keep selling music digitally, but at reduced prices, because the distribution of those songs is so inexpensive.  Here’s the kicker: they need to sell albums. No single songs.  If you buy Kid Rock’s new album, you must buy the whole album, not just your favorite song. Selling single songs is the fastest way to create a “one hit wonder.”  And for more entrenched musicians, selling one great song, which will be played over and over is the fastes way to create burn out. 
Get rid of the single song sales, cut the price of the digital album, and the overall business will pick up.    

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There is a Rock and Roll Jesus…and it isn’t Bruce Springsteen. Kid Rock may be a bit of an acquired taste, but he certainly is genuine. As a father of two who might have a teen in the car at any time, I alternately giggle and cringe at some of his lyrics, but the man has some serious soul. Yeah, some self-references and bawdy rhymes are a bit overdone, but to hear him sing “Portrait” with Cheryl Crow, or rhymes like “I’m in it to win it, like Yserman” or “I’ve slept in dumpsters, got high with kings” puts Kid, in my mind, up there with others who sing from the heart. Ever been to Detroit? This dude is Detroit. Ever hear David Allan Coe sing?
Hard edged musicians who write from the soul can lose focus and edge when they become rich. Green Day is no longer a punk band, but their music has grown and refined. It still rocks. Kid Rock is driving nice cars but he’s still hanging with the “people.” That’s his “idea.” Bruce, still rocks I guess, but his focus is on larger world things and his past. He lives in a gated community, I’ll bet. Enough said.
This week, Kid Rock sold more albums than Bruce, rising to #1. There is a new Rock and Roll Jesus in town. And he made the floor boards bend at Irving Plaza last Tuesday. It’s been a while since that has happened.

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