Here's a great guest blog with some thoughts on "doing things right" and lessons learned from The Stones, compliments of Michelle Engel, Director Of Programming for Dave-FM/Atlanta:
I have been going to concerts since I was 10 years old (some would say I would go to the opening of an envelope). One thing is for certain, in our business, you learn to take notes no matter the situation. For instance, I have a 3 year old, and while taking him to see the Wiggles in Portland, I learned much about “knowing your audience.” While on the field watching Coach Jim Mora with the Atlanta Falcons, I learned about “accentuating the assets of your players.” Well, this past Sunday, while at opening night of the Rolling Stones tour at Fenway Park in Boston, I learned much about the art of DOING IT BIG, and DOING IT RIGHT.
I have been going to Stones shows for over 15 years (far less than some of their fans), but I have seen them enough to know that they are all about consistency. I have never been let down by their performances. Each tour, the tickets get more expensive, but the stage gets bigger, the set list gets a little longer, and the performance gets even stronger! How is that possible with their age continuing to grow? The reality is that Mick Jagger will not do ANYTHING unless it is done totally right.
- If you are going to start a tour with a “bang”, don’t start it in a small town and grow from there, START IT IN THE ULTIMATE OUTDOOR VENUE THAT WILL GET THE MOST PRESS….and make it an EXPERIENCE with or without the concert. Enter… FENWAY PARK, the year following the miraculous World Series win of the Boston Red Sox.
- If you are going to do a big stage… DO THE BIGGEST STAGE. The stage is five stories tall, and is not only a light show extravaganza, but includes staging for over 100 listeners to view the show from a new vantage point, and something that has never been done to this extreme. The middle of the stage moves – all the way to the middle of the field.
- If you yourself are old, make sure your opening bands are relevant. The Stones have ALWAYS done this. It has become an honor and event to open for them on tour. For example, the Black Eyed Peas opened for them on Night One. BEPs are totally relevant to the younger audience, and the Stones know that Grandparents are bringing kids!
- If you are charging $200+ dollars per ticket… GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT!!! PLAY THE HITS!!! The Stones have NEVER done a tour that didn’t include their major songs – songs that they have performed thousands of times. Without fail, the Rolling Stones perform "Jumping Jack Flash," "Tumblin’ Dice," "I Can’t Get No Satisfaction," "You Can’t Always Get What You Want," "Honky Tonk Woman," "Sympathy for the Devil" and the other crowd favorites. There are so many baby bands that are reluctant to learn that lesson: If you have a hit, PLAY IT! For example, David Gray decided he won’t play “Babylon” on this tour, reasoning that he doesn’t want to be known for just that. By comparison, the Stones have so many more hits, and they play as many as they can fit in – and they have for 40 years now.
- DON’T STOP. Keep the crowd on their feet. Keep the show going even during costume changes. The encore shouldn’t be more than 3 minutes. COME BACK WITH A BANG!!! Leave on a Hit, so they want to come back for more.
So while I may have simply spent the evening at a Rock Concert, I also couldn’t help thinking that these are rules radio programmers could apply every day:
1) Exceed expectations.
2) Don’t do anything unless you can do it as big and as perfect as you can.
3) Be different and better than everyone else at WHAT YOU DO.
4) Be topical and relevant.
5) Reflect the audience, and give them what they want.
6) Don’t stop… keep the product moving.
7) Surprise the audience… blow their minds.
8) Leave them wanting more.
9) When you do events year after year, you must find ways to make them bigger and better.
10) You’re never too old to rock n’ roll.
Seeing the Rolling Stones in concert isn’t about being the biggest Rolling Stones fan in the world, it’s about enjoying a true entertainment experience. I must confess that I am the world’s biggest U2 fan. In fact, I have seen them 17 times – twice during this year’s tour alone – and they will still never really compare to the Rolling Stones in concert. The Stones blow your mind. When you spend time and money to escape from reality for a few hours, don’t you want to leave saying “WOW”?
Our listeners trust us to help provide the same sort of escape every day. Are we the “Rolling Stones” of our business? Or are we not playing “Babylon” this time around? I’m just saying.