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
    Cen Blackwell (profile), 12 Sep 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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