The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Money Can Buy Tickets, But It Can’t Buy Respect …

Like most things in life, there tends to be 2 sorts of people.

Those who chase the cash.
Those who chase their passion.

Or said another way, the business folks and the creative folks.

But one thing I’ve learned from working with a number of highly successful bands over the last few years is this.

Those who chase cash can be hugely financially successful, but they’ll never achieve the level of creative respect those who chase their passion will receive.

Now you may go, “who cares, they’re rich”.

But here’s the thing …

People who chase their passion can end up being even more financially successful than those who simply chase the cash.

Sure, it doesn’t happen often, but it also happens more than you may imagine. And when it does, that’s when things get really interesting.

I’m working on a project for a band [not Metallica] that is – quite simply – bonkers.

Not just bonkers in terms of what they want to do, but why they want to do it.

And why do they want to do it?

Because they their die-hard fans to be properly rewarded for their die-hard loyalty.

I don’t mean that in terms of getting early access to something they have to pay for – which is the way many companies think loyalty works. I mean rewarding them with something that has real – and long term – economic and emotional value to them.

Obviously I can’t go into specifics … both for the fact I’d be murdered and there’s still a fuck-ton of hurdles to be dealt if we stand any chance of pulling this off … but what I’ve loved seeing is how artists who have built their fortune as a byproduct of their passion [rather than just a focus on the cash] seem to reach a point where they kinda turn into a musical version of Robin Hood.

I should point out this does not mean they suddenly start doing things for free.

Nor do I mean they start giving all their money away.

There may do some of that but by then, they’ve finally learnt the value of their value.

No, what I mean is they put a lot of effort into ensuring their long-term fans feel the respect the artist has for them and all they’ve done for them … and one way they are increasingly doing this is by finding ways to ‘steal’ from the rich, so they can reward the loyal.

Case in point.

Billy Joel.

In 2014 he started a residency at Madison Square Gardens and vowed to keep playing there once a month until his concerts stop selling out.

Well, he’s still playing … and given he allegedly makes US$3-4 million per show, it’s proven to be an incredible relationship.

But this is where it gets fun …

You see Billy Joel no longer allows the first row of the venue to have people sitting in it.

There are 2 main reasons for this.

1. It stops scalpers from making huge money off him.

2. He hated looking down and seeing rich people looking back at him. Not really into the evening, just there because they could afford the seats and could brag about it to their friends.

So instead, every time he plays, he gets his crew to find fans who are sitting in the worst seats in the venue and gets them to bring them down and give them the best seats in the front row. People who are really happy to be there – not for the bragging rights – but for the chance to get the best view of an artists they love, singing the songs they adore.

In essence, he uses the wealth of the uber-rich to pay for the seats for the real fans.

Giving them the night of their life and letting Billy show that money can buy lots of things, but it can’t buy the respect he has for his true fans.

Now before anyone slags this post … or Billy off.

While I appreciate what he’s doing is not perfect … it’s more considerate, respectful and loyal than 95% of companies who talk a great game in terms of their customers/employees being their greatest asset right until the point it actually might result in costing them more than they want to spend.

Which is why I’d rather be loyal to a kinda musical version of Robin Hood than a smiling snake.

And before I go, I just want to leave you with my favourite little film about Metallica.

Unlike the Billy Joel story, this is not about repaying fan loyalty – at least not in the way I’ve just described how Billy Joel has. This is more about the sentimentality the band has for people and places that they believe has had a significant impact on the life of the band.

I’ve written about this before, but whereas that was about their ongoing relationship with Cliff Burton’s father … this is about one of James’ guitars.

That might not sound enticing, but I assure you it is.

Because while this film talks about where this guitar came from … what it represents and how it was crafted to have even greater meaning and significance to James and the band … it’s really a story of loyalty, legacy and love.

Enjoy. They’ve come a loooooooong way since Some Kind Of Monster, ha.

21 Comments so far
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From Billy Joel to Metallica. Your brain works in very unique ways Robert. Good post though. And the story of that guitar is wonderful.

Comment by George

unique. the pr version of saying fucked up.

Comment by andy@cynic

We all know you’d rather ‘fucked up’ than sensible.

Comment by Rob

1 degree more.

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s such a great video. Not just for the meaning put into the guitar, but their loyalty to the past without getting lost in it.

Comment by Rob

id pay good cash to not hear billy joel warble his beige fucking tunes.

Comment by andy@cynic

and campbell. youre a fucking corporate toady.

Comment by andy@cynic

I know. And my contract still has 17 months to go. What the hell?

Comment by Rob

that means youre an even bigger corporate fucking toady then campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

That metallica film is like an old American Idol pity video. But better.

Comment by DH

Yeah … because it’s real for a start. Hahahaha.

Comment by Rob

Money doesn’t make you, it reveals who you really are.

Comment by Pete

Good thing I don’t have any then.

Comment by John

campbell stole it didnt he. you can take the boy out of nottingham blah blah fucking blah.

Comment by andy@cynic

I can’t remember which band, but I remember a story of an ad agency asking to buy the rights of their song for a client ad. Supposedly the band hated the company it was for but said yes so they could give all the money to an organisation who made life hell for the client.

Comment by Bazza

There’s quite a few who have done that.

Grace Slick – of Starship fame – and I recently read an article that said Chumbawumba did it with their song Tubthumping.

Then there’s the bands who denied governments or political candidates from using their music as they opposed their views … though that group often make that decision for reputation management rather than helping others.

Comment by Rob

Here’s the Chumbawumba article:

Comment by Rob

Spot the sad fact music nerd.

Comment by DH

It certainly wasn’t Queen.

Comment by John

No …

But they did sue Trump to stop him using We Are The Champions in his rally’s, so at least that,

Comment by Rob

They also knew his cheque would bounce.

Comment by John

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