It seems like every time you turn around, there’s a classic song, icon, or musician making news. It’s all part of the nostalgia streak that seems to permeate every corner of our culture, including video, music, food, and of course, sports.
Last weekend, it was the halftime show at Superbowl LVI, making memories for millions with throwbacks. “Back in the day” has become part of our lexicon. It is about what is meaningful to the masses, the more the merrier. And the more resonant the memory, the more powerful the marketing.
For today’s post, I’ve got some fascinating stories that are wrapped in classic memories, especially the musical variety.
Let’s start with a little bling:
A ring of familiarity – If a rock n’ roll wedding is in your future, you might want to consider exchanging vows in the right spirit. That means a Fender guitar ring created by Manly Bands in partnership with the legendary guitar maker.
The rings are crafted from actual Fender guitar materials – mahogany, titanium, and of course, guitar strings. There are six different ring styles, including “The Acoustic” (rosewood and acoustic guitar strings) and the “Riff” ring that combines black zirconium and an engraved fretboard.
Pictured here is “The Troubadour,” made from ebony and featuring Fender tweed and an authentic guitar string. It retails for $575 (minus 20%).
Manly Bands co-founder Johnathan Ruggiero points out how “Music connects couples everywhere, which is why we’re so excited to partner with Fender to create a unique collection that speaks to musicians and music lovers all over America.”
And the perfect soundtrack for duck-walking down the aisle sporting your new Fender rings:
It would have to be “Johnny B. Goode.”
In Bowie we trust – If you’ve ever wondered whether you could invest in a band, stop wondering. Music Business Worldwide reports the trend of artists to sell their music rights is now morphing into bond offerings.
A number of private equity firms are raising serious coin to purchase catalogues. Among them, Northleaf Capital is raising $303.8 million backed by the publishing rights from the Who’s Pete Townshend and Tim McGraw.
The music bonds are essentially loans but with investment groups forking over money instead of raising the cash via a bank loan. And these bond offerings are rated by iconic financial institutions including Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.
To some extent, streaming is driving these transactions. It provides reliable royalty income for artists with a strong track record. As a result, investors can bank on returns based on streaming frequency on Spotify, Apple Music, and other DSPs.
The father of this Classic Rock investment model was none other than David Bowie. In the late ’90s, he launched the eponymous “Bowie Bonds” which got off to a great start. But when music piracy became popular in the early 2000s, the bonds were seriously downgraded.
Eventually those “Diamond Dog” investors who poured $55 million into “Bowie Bonds” got their money back, including the agreed rate of interest.
Which classic rocker’s “futures” would you invest in?
Brilliant disguise? – How do we remember the great classic artists who leave this earth? Promoters, managers, lawyers, and estates have grappled with this dilemma for centuries.
Of course, we can enjoy their art via recordings – video, audio, concerts, and other artifacts. And there are cover bands galore, made up of musicians who perform live on stage. These reproductions include symphony orchestras “covering” the original symphonies and masterworks, artist impersonators, and tribute bands that play reasonable versions of a performer’s catalogues.
In recent years, the next phase has been holograms, some of which have gone “on tour.” I blogged about this a couple years back when the estates of Ronnie James Dio and Roy Orbison launched a series of virtual concerts.
But back in the ’70s, promoter Danny O’Day proved that imitation knows no bounds. Working with plastic surgeons, O’Day tried to create a “clone army” of dead rock stars, including Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Jim Croce, Janis Joplin, and others.
The full story is both bizarre and fascinating, told by David Browne in a behind-a-pay-wall Rolling Stone story titled “He Used Plastic Surgery to Raise Rock Stars From the Dead.”
This quote of O’Day’s master strategy said it all:
“In this country, we always want what we can’t have. Look how well records by dead rock stars sell. You don’t miss your water until the well runs dry. It’s America.”
As more rock and rollers exit this life, there will undoubtedly be more attempts to use technology to keep the memories and the music alive. But none as strange as Danny O’Day’s quest to surgically resurrect classic performers.
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