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Photo: The iconic, Slash from Guns and Roses.
"A rock star is the intersection between who you are and who you want to become" -Slash, Guns and Roses.
Years ago between the ages of 16 and 22 I focused heavily on my dream of becoming a "rock star". I wrote songs, put a band together, promoted local rock shows, created websites, sold merchandise and focused on the dream of "rockstardom."
Looking back on the things that I loved about the concept of becoming a "rock star" was:
- To be recognized
- To perform at a high level in front of an audience
- To have my own business
- To be in control of my own future
- To have creative control of my art-form
- To travel the world
- To have passive income
- To build a collection/portfolio of work
- To earn a nice living
- To be free from answering to a boss or a J.O.B.
When I look at my life today, at age 26, I have achieved all of the above and I no longer have a band.
I have a theory that we never really love music, art, dance, poetry, fine food, travelling or anything else that we are passionate about...
Instead we love the FEELINGS that we get from experiencing music, art, dance, poetry, fine food, travelling etc.
Rock music doesn't matter, what matters is the feelings we get from the music.
Although I "quit" pursuing the "rockstar" dream at age 22, I have achieved all 10 of the things I wanted in Music from Real Estate instead.
The work doesn't matter, what matters is the feelings that come from the work.
You don't need a band to be a rock star: you do, however, need a BRAND.
The concept of a rockstar really is a concept from the 1970's. Bands/musicians like Led Zepplin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison etc. embody the glory of rockstardom.
When we translate the 1970's concept of a Rockstar into today's market of 2012, there are virtually zero universally recognized modern rock stars.
A list that I was reading for fun the other day was the "30 richest drummers in the world" when measured by net worth.
What interesting about the bands/drummers on the list was that NONE of them started after the year 2000. Most of the bands/musicians on the list are from the glory days of rock'n'roll in the 1970's and the rest are scattered throughout rock history. A select few became famous in the 1990's at best.
Many people have said throughout history that "rock is dead" and I would agree; especially when we examine a list like the one above.
Although "rock is dead", living life as a rockstar has never been more alive.
The only difference between the rockstars of today and the rockstars of the 1970's is that the rockstars from the 70's all had bands.
The rock stars of the new millennium have BRANDS instead of bands.
I believe that it is much more important to build a brand than a band/business because a successful brand can be attached to a business very easily ie: Gene Simmons of KISS has attached his brand to 100's, if not 1000's of products and is able to spawn dozens of businesses and licensing deals. KISS is a brand that has made more money than The Beatles and will likely continue to do well after all of the KISS members are dead.
Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and Jimi Hendrix are all examples of excellent brands that make approximately $50 Million dollars per brand annually, even though the "rockstar" behind the brand has been dead for years.
A modern example of a "rockstar" would be Mike "The Situation" from MTV's Jersey Shore.
All of the reality TV stars on Jersey shore are devoid of talent, however, they are highly visible and have a well defined brand with broad appeal. In 2010 alone, Mike "The Situation" made $5 million dollars just off of endorsements and other deals.
The formula is simple, create a great brand, attach a business, rinse and repeat.
Up and coming musical rockstars have lost most of their power, especially rock'n'roll musicians because there is no longer any centralized distribution for music: Traditional radio is fragmented and listenership is down, Satellite radio is highly fragmented, online music is highly fragmented and no one has really figured out how to properly monetize and control the internet. Television is more fragmented than ever and channels like MTV do not feature music or music videos anymore.
Creating a rock star brand is not as easy as showing up on American Band Stand or the BBC as it once was because of all of the fragmented channels.
Modern musicians (especially rap musicians) are focusing more on building great brands and attaching satellite businesses to their back-end. Some examples I can think of immediately are:
- Lady Gaga,
- Kanye West
- 50 Cent
The brand is greater than the band.
Both music and business are trending towards brands in the modern economy.
All of this information may be great if you are in the music/entertainment industry, but what does this mean for you and your business?
All of this information means the following:
- Brand value is more important than ever, focus on creating a visible, high quality brand at all costs. Brands can be monetized later if they are built properly.
- Visibility is more important than ever. Find a niche, become visible and become the leading expert in the niche.
- You don't need talent or a band to have a great brand. Consider Mike "The Situation".
- Focus on monetizing the "back end" of your brand and not the front end. Modern musicians like Kanye West look at their music as a "commercial" for themselves and make money on the back end NOT the front.
- Build a great brand and diversify your back end as much as possible. No one has a crystal ball and we never know what the next trend is going to be. Have a mother brand with a diverse portfolio of back-end businesses (think of Virgin, Richard Branson's brand with 400 companies under it).
Thanks for reading,
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