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
    PaulT (profile), 8 Sep 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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