Brands are scrambling in the midst of COVID-19, trying to stay relevant, essential, and in the moment. Of course, the other challenge is getting attention, a heavy lift a time when most people are worrying about core fundamental issues: their health and their family's welfare, school safety, the economy, and the stability of their jobs.
And the “noise” is loud and incessant – the cacophony from social media, talk show hosts, and politicians and loud voices on the left and right. So, how can a brand break through, whether it's designer water, a smartphone, or a rock band?
In fact, of all the products out there, it might be most difficult for any musical artist to grab the spotlight during this environment. Outside of superstar acts like Adele, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Drake, Justin TImberlake, or Bruno Mars, it's not easy for a newer band to get noticed.
For a rock band, it's a formidable challenge. By all objective measures, this hasn't been a great year for mainstream rock. In fact, you could make the case it hasn't been a good decade or century for a genre that once ruled the musical roost.
When was the last time a new rock band truly broke out, shattering the barriers of its core demographic? There have been a smattering of successes along the way, but few rock artists have connected beyond its target dudes in years and years.
So when I received an email from Concord (a music management company) earlier this week with a message from Taylor Momsen, lead singer of The Pretty Reckless, it looked like just another missive about just another song from just another band.
Until I opened it.
Now you might not know The Pretty Reckless. They're not a new band – in fact, they've been around for more than a decade. And while you may not recognize Momsen, chances are you've seen her before. In a previous life, she acted in movies like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and TV series that include Gossip Girl.
But she's now a dyed-in-the-wool rocker, fronting this band that has a hit song – “Death By Rock and Roll” – now sitting atop the Active Rock chart this week.
So, how do you celebrate that feat without spending a fortune, and in a way that might get a PD's attention while she's working remotely, doing a show, and trying to keep the station on the air?
Simple: a short video and an email list for starters. And a message that is grateful.
And the total cost? Nothing.
Here's the video that's less than one minute long – a sincere thank-you directly from the artist – not a label rep or management person.
As importantly, it's a thank-you note to radio – and an acknowledgment of the continued relevance and power of Rock radio – its fans and its impact.
Maybe this level of gratitude happens in the Country/Nashville world with some regularity. But in Rock, it's a rarity. And perhaps that's one of the reasons it stands out and resonates.
(Imagine if they had done a personalized a version of this for a dozen or so influential and/or early believers in the song, mentioning the call letters and fans in that market. The videos would have ended up being shared by these stations in multiple places, and in turn, the social media engine would have taken over from there.)
A handheld video shot on an iPhone is a small thing. But from small things, big things one day come.
And it's a reminder to all of us in radio about the power of a thank-you, the personal touch, some eye contact, and the power and influence of our talent. These days, no one dares utter the words “marketing” and “promotion.” There's no budget, and there's not going to be resources for the foreseeable future. We all get that.
But this simple message from Concord, Fearless Records, Momsen, and the band are great examples of how much impact those small, positive, and thankful gestures can have, especially during a moment in time when everything seems to have turned sour.
Many, many radio people are fighting this thing off daily and valiantly. But that doesn't negate the fact there are bad days, tough moments, gut-wrenching decisions, and serious disappointments happening all the time.
That's why a little optimism and gratefulness get noticed right about now.
From small things….
Thanks Mike Stern.
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