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."

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  1. icon
    fogbugzd (profile), 8 Sep 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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