Iron Maiden Connects With Fans And The Fans Buy

from the well,-look-at-that dept

There really isn't that much specifically new about what the band Iron Maiden has done, but as this NY Times article shows, the band figured out ages ago, that really connecting with fans is a useful trait in having those fans continue to support you. The article notes that the band was never really able to rely on radio airplay, since its songs were not acceptable radio fare, either in length or content. So, instead, it focused on really building up its relationship directly with fans, in part through relentless touring:
A lack of radio exposure may have created challenges, but these prepared Iron Maiden for the digital era, when the industry's traditional business model has broken down. Now, a hot radio single is more likely to send listeners to the Internet in search of a free, pirated copy than into the record stores.

Because Iron Maiden's songs do not fit the mold of a radio single -- three of them, on the newest release, are more than nine minutes long -- the band does not suffer as much from this problem.
The article notes that, with the album's latest release, sales of the actual CD are pretty high (it entered the charts at number one in many countries around the globe -- oddly, including Saudi Arabia -- and number four in the US), while unauthorized downloads are pretty low. Of course, there is a potential alternative explanation: the band's fans may come from a somewhat "older" generation (the band's members themselves are all in their fifties). The fact that authorized downloads are pretty low may support this claim, though an exec from the band's label says it might be that fans really want the physical CD for the artwork, lyrics and such.

Of course, what strikes me as amusing about all of this is that the band is on EMI internationally, and Universal Music in the US -- and the exec from EMI quoted in the article makes it sound like it's a no brainer that fans want to buy high quality physical goods from a band that really connects with their fans. It's nice to see EMI finally recognize that simple fact, but it does sort of make you wonder: why haven't they been able to do that with other acts as well?

Still, the advice from the band's manager definitely is pretty straightforward and dead on:
"Invest in the long term. Apply an image. Give the fans what they want. Tour and keep touring. Play the festival circuit. Embrace new technology. Be innovative. Be honest. Be original. Write good songs."


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Matthew Krum (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 12:40am

    Iron Maiden rule!

    My wife and I are such Iron Maiden fans that we played their song Run to The Hills during our wedding! That being said, Iron Maiden has long offered posters, t-shirts, action figures and an amazing concert experience...not just CDs. I actually have purchased all their albums on vinyl as the cool artwork featuring their character, Eddie, looks much better on a record insert/cover than a CD. Great to see an article here on a group that are not only great musicians, but awesome performers and all-round artists as well.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 1:55am

      Re: Iron Maiden rule!

      More than just collectibles like posters, they have a great fan club. It's nothing new or particularly unique, but it's there, and it works well. For something like $30 a year, fan club members get updates about things like upcoming tours. Fan club members also get priority when it comes to ticket sales. If that's not CwF + RtB, I don't know what is.

       

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    yourrealname (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 1:07am

    Maiden

    One time when I saw them live, 2003 in this case, the lead singer, Bruce Dickenson, said to the audience between songs that unlike some other metal bands, they didn't care if their fans pirated their music on the internet. He also said he was fine with people recording or even posting live streams of the concert, just as long as people spread the word about Iron Maiden. This was obviously a direct jab at Metallica who had not long before been in that lawsuit with Napster. I don't know if they still feel that way or not though.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 2:51am

    They can afford to innovate

    Iron Maiden are an established band who have built a brand and grown big during a time when the old music business model based on record sales was able to work for them. As a result, they have the money to invest in connecting with fans that a startup band would not. It would be interesting to see a group with the vision to give something back try to encourage and promote new talent using new methods of communication and connecting with future fans.

     

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      Dementia (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 4:39am

      Re: They can afford to innovate

      I hate to be the one to point this out, but in today's world, a start up band simply can not afford not to connect with their fans. It doesn't require tons of money to do, but done right it can generate those tons (ok, so maybe it's more along the lines of pounds than tons) of money for the band.

       

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      PaulT (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 5:50am

      Re: They can afford to innovate

      "Iron Maiden are an established band who have built a brand and grown big during a time when the old music business model based on record sales was able to work for them"

      So, you deliberately ignored the part of the article that noted how many parts of the old industry (such as radio play) have never really worked for them, and they've always done these kinds of things to some extent. Typical.

      We're back to "Masnick's Law" again... If a new band innovates, it'll "never work for the big boys". If an established band tries it, "that's only because they're already big". How many of these examples does it take to see it can work for anyone if done properly?

      "It would be interesting to see a group with the vision to give something back try to encourage and promote new talent using new methods of communication and connecting with future fans."

      What does that mean exactly? Now you're saying that you'll only accept it if the big boys and new artists directly collaborate on a project? One way to try and sidestep your obvious hypocrisy, I suppose.

       

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        Hephaestus (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 6:39am

        Re: Re: They can afford to innovate

        PaulT - "What does that mean exactly? Now you're saying that you'll only accept it if the big boys and new artists directly collaborate on a project? One way to try and sidestep your obvious hypocrisy, I suppose."

        The first part of his post was about the old school cost of initial promotion. Which is really expensive and requires connections (magazines, TV, Radio, etc). The second he is pointing out is something that big name artists should be doing to create new big name stars and replace the labels. AC said ...

        "It would be interesting to see a group with the vision to give something back try to encourage and promote new talent using new methods of communication and connecting with future fans."

        Some things that could be tried are, starting an apprenticeship program for new artists, running contests to find new talent, promotiong them by having them as warm up bands, etc. The list of what currently well established bands and artists can do is huge. They have the name and brand recognition.

        We are in a transition period between the old and the new. The only thing the labels have left going for them is promotion. Our AC friend seems to be pointing that out, just not very well.

         

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      fogbugzd (profile), Sep 8th, 2010 @ 6:21am

      Re: They can afford to innovate

      They probably never saw much money from record or CD sales. Those mostly make money for the labels, and it has been that way ever since they have been around. Bands make their money touring.

      Connecting with fans is going to pay off and have long term benefits no matter what your underlying business model is.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 4:19am

    Why the commas in the title? the first one definitely doesn't belong and the second is probably unnecessary also.

     

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    NAMELESS ONE, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 6:12am

    Bruce has always been one of the smart ones

    and yes bruce i have bought your stuff, but its been a long time now since, and you can thank your friends like gene simmons....

    I have been to every concert you held in toronto, canada however.

    I won't support suing kids

     

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    40ty somethinger, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 6:27am

    YEAH!

    Rock on IM!!!..

     

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    Spelling Nazi, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 6:31am

    Fix pls

    The article notes that the band was never really able to rely on radio airplay, since its songs were not acceptible radio fare, either in length or content. Should be "acceptable". It just sticks out like a sore thumb.

     

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    Phil, Sep 8th, 2010 @ 8:35am

    Maiden

    I did a webinar about this a couple of weeks ago (being a major Maiden fan in all). Maiden is who they are because they tirelessly connected with the fans - working the day job all week, then on Friday jumping in the "green goddess" to tour the English country spreading the Maiden love.

    Keep in mind, Maiden got signed because of the size and excitement of the crowd at one of their shows - nothing to do w/ how they sounded (and that was in 1980).

    As far as the money goes, Steve Harris said that once they got signed they actually made LESS than they had doing it all on their own! The money always came from the shows.

    Up The Irons
    Phil

     

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    Manny M., Sep 8th, 2010 @ 11:09am

    UP THE IRONS !!

    Been a fan since the Killer days, and I'm glad that they haven't changed. It's sad that most of today's rock groups don't believe in guitar solos, and i'm glad that Maiden are still ripping those great solos. My 18 year old son also like Iron Maiden. Took him to a concert last year, and shocked the hell out the poor kid, cause he's never seen the head banging side of me before. Being 44, I sure did regret it the following day, but it just took me back to my youth and just couldn't control it.

     

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    9lives (profile), Sep 9th, 2010 @ 2:31am

    I was never a Maiden fan until a mate of mine with an Internet radio show played 'The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg' one day. So impressed, I have now BOUGHT (on CD) their last three records. Without the 'illegal' playing of that song, EMI would never have gotten my money.

     

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    Cen Blackwell (profile), Sep 12th, 2010 @ 5:29am

    Allways forward thinking.

    I've allways thought of 'Maiden as being a very forward-thinking band. Disclosure - I've allways been a massive fan of theirs. Years ago their CDs also featured web-based content such as band interviews, mini games, tour photos, access to their on-line shop etc. etc. One of their singles also came with a PC game (Ed Hunter). The game wasn't very good compared to offerings from the likes of ID Software or Epic Games, but the above is evidence that Maiden have allways dabbled with, if not embraced, the "connect with fans + reason to buy" business model. The result? Over 80M albums sold.

    The other thing that surprised and pleased me was that a glance at the back cover of their latest CD (of which I bought the special edition precisely due to the offered extras) revealed that the copyright owner for the music is not EMI records but by the band's own company - Maiden LLP. The music is merely licensed to EMI. Another example of a forward-thinking band who obviously like to engage with their fans in (for the music industry) innovative ways.

    Lastly, I remember watching a concert that Maiden did in Sweden or Finland years ago. Bruce Dickinson was speaking to the fans and instructed all those bootleging the concert at home to remember to send it to *all* their friends, rather than just their friends who were allready fans. Sure, technically it probably violated some stupid copyright law, but the end effect was more 'Maiden fans and hence more albums sold.

    'Maiden deserve fan's suport for being so forward thinking about this sort of thing. Plus of course their music is awsome...

     

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    ironmaiden, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 8:02am

    Iron Maiden Covers

    Hello you guys done a great job by publishing this article, so keep it up

     

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