Monday, April 11, 2016

2 Epic Rock and Roll Weekend Events: Guns N’ Roses and Rock Hall Inductions

If you’re a rock fan like me, then you know that this weekend was pretty epic for rock music. I’m speaking, of course, about the return of Guns N’ Roses and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Granted, I didn’t attend any of these shows, so my views are from an outside perspective. That said, if you were there, please give us your perspectives in the comments below.

Guns N’ Roses

Rock music has needed a shot in the arm for quite some time. The Guns N’ Roses concerts have catapulted rock music into the limelight in a way we haven’t seen in some time.

There have been other reunions that had the potential to be as big as this but fell short. Led Zeppelin made huge news when they got together for one show (with Jason Bonham filling his dad’s shoes). But, they didn’t go any farther than the one show.

Van Halen made big news with their reunion with David Lee Roth. Their reunion has lasted longer, but Roth’s performance has been a far cry from his original heyday.

Even without all the original members, this reunion already seems bigger. That may be due in part to the aura of danger that always surrounds this band. Everyone is expecting the tour to implode at any time. Their volatility has always fueled Guns N’ Roses and kept everyone’s attention.

The surprise show at the Troubador last week didn’t dampen the excitement for the two shows in Las Vegas. We finally know who’s in the band, but how would it all come together? Well, here’s what we know so far that will fuel much of the success of their summer tour:
  • How They Sound: The band sounds incredible. All parties have been active lately, so I don’t think anyone was expecting a trainwreck. But, the biggest question is if Axl’s voice would hold out. Lately, his voice has sounded good at times and just awful other times. Well, so far, his voice sounds the best I’ve heard it sound since they started touring again.
  • What Version of the Band This Would Be: With no Izzy or Steven Adler, it was clear this wasn’t going to be just a celebration of the Appetite era. With no Matt Sorum or Gilby Clarke, it wasn’t going to be an Illusions era focus either. It’s a continuation of the modern day Guns N’ Roses. They even included a couple songs from Chinese Democracy. At least, they’re \ the two strongest songs from the CD, Chinese Democracy and Better. If you’re holding out hope that you might hear a Velvet Revolver or solo Slash song, I wouldn’t hold your breath. It’s still clearly Axl’s band. The set lists have been a good mix, though.
  • What Kind of Surprises Can We Expect: It was fun to see Sebastian Bach join the band on stage for “My Michelle” during their second show. Axl and Bach have remained close over the years. But, the biggest surprise so far isn’t even a person. When word came out the Axl had broken his foot, he vowed that the show would go on. How would he do it? By sitting on his own rock throne, of course. But, not just any throne. The actual throne that Dave Grohl had created for the Foo Fighters last tour. Grohl might just have a side business creating touring rock thrones.
  • Will Axl, Slash and Duff Get Along: It looks like they’re all enjoying themselves so far. I don’t think they’ll ever shake the perception that it could all come crashing down in a split second. But, I think that’s part of the draw. People love to speculate on what might set one of band members off. Will Axl start the show at a reasonable time (midnight for the two Vegas shows)? Who know what kind of stipulations are in their contracts? You can bet that everyone is covered (band members and venues) in case it goes south.
  • Will There Be a Place for Dizzy: Of course. Other than Axl, Dizzy is the longest tenured member of Guns N’ Roses. Let that sink in. 

It’s been fun to watch the excitement so far. While I wish it was all five original members, I’m still glad to see the big three. We’ll see how long it lasts.

2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions

In a year that offers one of the best “rock” classes that we’ve had in a while, the induction ceremony seemed to come and go with barely a blip on the radar. For some reason, it was on a Friday this year. There was a little controversy…if you can call it that.

NWA called out Gene Simmons for saying he can’t wait for hip hop to go away (Simmons answered back here). They included the obligatory disclaimer that they are rock and roll (please, just stop already…). It seems there are more and more inductees that have to justify their inclusion.

Controversy came from new inductee Steve Miller. He criticized the Rock Hall for his treatment. He would like to see the whole process changed including “who you can invite, what you can do, how long you can play, what you can say…”.

Luckily, the biggest news of the Rock Hall inductions was good news for Cleveland. Cleveland will now host the induction ceremony every other year.’s Chuck Yarborough explains why that’s important for Cleveland in this article. He also gives a great explanation of the two Rock Hall boards and the differences of each. It puts a lot of the activities as they relate to Cleveland in perspective.

Getting the ceremony every other year is a huge win for Cleveland. It will hopefully help to rebuild Cleveland’s reputation and credibility for supporting rock music. Too many rock bands skip Cleveland. I’ve always felt that the Rock Hall should help to make it easy and attractive for bands to come to Cleveland.

Things are looking up in the rock world. Exciting things are happening that hopefully we can continue to build. Enjoy it and support the rock bands that come to Cleveland. The more we support the bands that come, the more that will make sure to include Cleveland on their next tour.

As I said above, if you were at one of the Guns N’ Roses shows or the inductions, tell us what you thought. Even if you didn’t go, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading. If you like this post, sign up to receive my updates by email. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Image Source: Cheap Trick via Mike Burns Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

3 Companies That Think Its Customers Are Stupid

Have you ever read an announcement from a company and just thought, “Do they really think people are this stupid?” I’m a marketer, so I understand having to spin things in a positive way. But, there are times when companies are better off being transparent. Following are three examples that just left me shaking my head.

Walt Disney Parks Seasonal Ticket Pricing

In February, the Disney Parks announced a price increase on some of their ticket packages. This included a new feature – seasonal single-day ticket prices. It’s seasonal because the price depends on the expected crowd for the day.

Disney classifies their tickets as value, regular or peak. Value prices remained at current prices. Regular prices are $5–$10 more. Peak jumps an additional $12–$14 per ticket.

The reason they’re giving is to help with crowd control during busy times. By jumping the price, Disney is hoping people will choose to come on slower days. In a nutshell, the crowds are getting too big and this is its solution. How convenient that this also happens to bring in a significant amount of extra revenue.

What They Could Have Done

I’ll be the first to admit that I’d hate to visit on a day that’s so crowded you can’t enjoy yourself. But is a price increase the only way to solve the issue? Of course not. What about a price decrease on the slower days? I know. That’s unrealistic in today’s business world.

Another option would be to create experiences that Disney would offer only on the slower days. Give people a positive reason to want to come on a slower day. Or, offer the multi-park (or “Hopper”) pass for a significant discount on slower days.

Disney promises a magical experience and it delivers. So why not make an even better experience by not going after every dollar of every pocket that comes into the park?

Facebook to Open Instant Articles to All Publishers

This next example made me laugh when I read it. Facebook is opening up its Instant Articles program to any publisher. That means you could be reading this blog post in Instant Articles if I choose to publish there. Currently, it’s only open to a few hundred publishers.

The funny part is the reason Facebook gave for this direction. The problem is that people experience slow load times when clicking on publishers’ links. Instant Articles loads much faster. The faster load times might be a benefit but that’s hardly why Facebook is pushing this new service.

It’s no secret that Facebook wants all its users to stay on its site for as long as possible. It wants to dominate the Internet. The key to that is to have users publish all their content on Facebook. But publishers don’t own the relationships with readers of content on Facebook.

What They Could Have Done

This is an instance where simple transparency makes the most sense. Most everyone knows why Facebook is making this play. Facebook is actually offering some attractive features with Instant Articles that benefit publishers. They have full control over the look of their articles, and they get all the data and ad revenue. Perhaps the biggest key is Facebook allowing some publishers to test collecting email subscribers. If it gives all publishers that access, that could be a game changer.

Facebook could have just said that it wants its users to stay on their site. Then followed with explaining the benefits to publishers who use Instant Articles. There’s still the issue that Facebook can change the rules at any time. That won’t change, but transparency might get more publishers to give it a try.

Uber Explains Surge Pricing

Recently, Uber sent out an email to explain their surge pricing. Surge pricing is when it raises prices during busy times. Uber’s explanation is that the higher prices encourage more drivers to get on the road. Like Disney’s seasonal prices, it looks like this solution benefits Uber more than customers.

What They Could Have Done

If getting drivers on the road is really the main reason for surge pricing, there’s a better option from a customer standpoint. Why not have surge payments for drivers. Keep the fare steady, but pay the drivers a higher percentage during busy periods. That would motivate more drivers while allowing customers to get normal pricing.

These are just three recent examples. There are many more and I’d love to see some of yours. Give your examples in the comments below.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

5 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Podcasts You Need to Listen To

I think it’s safe to admit it. I’m addicted to podcasts. It’s all I listen to in my car. It has completely replaced radio. I’ve written about the 20 Marketing Podcasts You Need to Listen to … and 9 MORE Marketing Podcasts.

Well, I’ve found a few music podcasts that have made their way into my regular rotation. These podcasts offer artists another way to promote their latest projects. This is especially useful for the bands that can’t get their songs played on regular radio. Plus, the podcast audience is specifically there to hear about rock music.

Ok, that’s enough marketing talk. Back to the rock! While there a quite a few podcasts to choose from, the following are must listens to fans of rock music. If you like the latest in music news, a little nostalgia and a touch of comedy mixed in, you’ll want to add these to your playlist.

If you’re a fan of Eddie Trunk (@EddieTrunk) and That Metal Show, this podcast is a no brainer. Each week, Trunk offers an interview with the biggest names in rock music, as well as his take on the latest rock news.

Many of his interviews are exclusive to the podcast. Recent guests have included Richie Kotzen (The Winery Dogs), Brad Whitford (Aerosmith), Joe Elliot (Def Leppard), Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) and Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick). He also has interviewed record producers who have worked on some of the biggest records in rock.

WWE Superstar and Fozzy lead singer, Chris Jericho (@IamJericho) offers a weekly take on all things entertainment. Pulling heavily from his wrestling and rock star friends, Jericho’s podcast is a fun glimpse into both worlds in a style that is uniquely Jericho.

Past music guests have included Paul Stanley (KISS), David Coverdale (Whitesnake),  Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and Duff McKagen (Guns ‘n Roses). You might even hear a Fozzy song or two.

No Guitar is Safe is the official podcast of Guitar Player Magazine. It’s hosted by Guitar Player editor and guitarist Jude Gold (@Jude_Gold). Gold interviews some of the best rock guitarists out there. They discuss stories around the songs and performances of the artists, as well as get into some technical talk about their equipment and guitar preferences. But, the best part of this podcast is that the guitarists actually play live.

Guests have included John 5 (Rob Zombie), Vic Johnson (Sammy Hagar) and Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper).

Former rock journalist Chris Czynszak (@ChrisDBGeek) and rock radio veteran Aaron Camaro offer a weekly rock and metal discussion show. Along with sharing memories of artists and periods of rock history, they offer years in review, deep dives into some of the best albums of the ‘70s , ‘80s and ‘90s and other themes for an entertaining look back at some of the best moments in hard rock.

The name of this podcast pretty much tells you exactly what it is. Regular hosts are writers and producers, Mark Strigl (@Strigl) and John Ostronomy. They talk about the latest news and releases in rock music, as well as interview artists and producers. They also get help from a couple of Mitches: Mitch Joel (@MitchJoel) (Host of Groove– The No Treble Podcast) and Mitch Lafon (Host of the One on One with Mitch Lafon podcast).

Coincidentally, on a content marketing note, Mitch Joel is a brilliant marketer/author/speaker.  I’ve seen him speak on marketing, read his books and listen to his marketing podcast, Six Degrees of Separation. It was a very pleasant surprise to stumble upon him on this podcast too.

Never one to hold back from giving his opinion, Twisted Sister lead singer Dee Snider (@DeeSnider) offers a weekly podcast. Beyond giving his thoughts on rock music, Snider also talks politics and life in general.

Although he recently completed his final episode, all 39 episodes are available to download. He may bring it back, but he said on his final show that it wasn’t going the way he wanted it to. If you’re a fan of Dee Snider’s work or just want a straight look at rock and roll, these episodes are worth checking out.

Do you have a favorite podcast that we should check out? Tell us in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and if you like this post, please share it with a friend.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Grammys Get It Right With Hollywood Vampires Tribute to Lemmy

I must be in Bizarro World. First the Rock Hall actually chooses inductees that I like (mostly) for 2016. Now, the Grammys had the Hollywood Vampires perform. In case you missed it, the Hollywood Vampires are Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, Duff McKagen and Matt Sorum.

When I first heard it, I didn’t believe it. I thought maybe they meant they were playing the ceremony where they give out the awards that they don’t show on TV. I was beyond excited when I found out it was the actual awards. Not only that, they were going to be honoring Lemmy by playing Ace of Spades. Not only that, they were also playing one of their own songs, the new As Bad As I Am!

Why is this a big deal in the world of the Grammys? Well, it’s no secret that the Grammy committee is more than a little clueless when it comes to hard rock and heavy metal. The obvious joke is Jethro Tull winning the metal Grammy over Metallica in 1988. It hasn’t gotten any better with time. The hard rock and metal nominees follow no rhyme or reason as bands are nominated (and win in some cases) for live versions of older songs (Judas Priest) and cover songs from other artists (Motorhead covering Metallica). Just last year, they awarded the hard rock/heavy metal Grammy to Tenacious D for a COMEDY album!

Even giving Lemmy a tribute at all is a step in the right direction. Acknowledging his influence on rock music shows that somebody is paying attention and/or listening to the right people. Does it make sense for Hollywood Vampires to perform the tribute? In my opinion, yes. While I’m sure Johnny Depp being involved was very attractive to the Grammys, the point of the Hollywood Vampires is to honor the artists that Alice Cooper used to drink with (heavily) and have passed away. Cooper himself said Lemmy is now part of that group.

How about the performance itself? First, just awesome to have Dave Grohl introduce the band and explain the influence Lemmy had on him and so many rockers. I’m sure it was lost on most of the audience, but a nice touch. I was hoping Grohl would have played at least during Ace of Spades (he even appears on the Hollywood Vampires CD), but no such luck there. Honestly, it didn’t matter. Alice, Joe, Johnny, Duff and Matt tore the roof off. It was loud, heavy, fiery and so good. Just like Lemmy would have wanted.

Some might complain that As Bad As I Am wasn’t a great song or that their version of Ace of Spades wasn’t as good as other recent tributes. I won’t argue with that as both were good, not great. But, the way they took the stage with their attitude and intensity was exciting in a way that I’m not sure the Grammys has ever seen.

In an interview before the Grammys, they were asked about a new band playing a new song at the Grammys. Cooper and Perry both explained (I’m heavily paraphrasing) that you don’t hit the stage asking the audience if they like it. You make the audience yours. They absolutely did that last night and it rocked!

What did you think of their performance? Did it fit in with the Grammys? Did it need to? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading and please share it with your friends.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

3 Reasons Why This Year’s “Big Game” Ads Were a Super Bore

Super Bowl 50 is a wrap and I’m really trying to find if anything lived up to the hype. The closest I can come is Lady Gaga and Beyonce. Sorry, but those two being the biggest hits of the night isn’t a good thing for the NFL. It would be great for the Grammys, but not the Super Bowl.

Peyton Manning winning a second Super Bowl? Maybe, but any good sentiment was overshadowed by the Papa John kiss (long before his wife and kids he kept saying he had to kiss) and Budweiser comments. Somewhere Nationwide is off in a corner with a chicken parm feeling jilted with no Manning on their side.

The game itself wasn’t overly exciting. Although you could argue that it was because the defenses lived up to their hype.

Ok, let’s talk about what we’re really here for: the commercials! Even when the game is boring, you can always be entertained by the commercials. Not this year. There was no stand out, slam-dunk commercial this year. There were hardly any I would consider good, let alone effective.

Maybe we’ve built our expectations up too much. Maybe Super Bowl commercials have run their course. I can’t help but agree with Robert Rose on last week’s This Old Marketing when he said that the ads were $5 million wastes of money. When you consider the potential for online promotions (see Newcastle Brown Ale’s promos for 2014 and 2015; none for 2016) and you’ll see why brands aren’t bound to the TV.

A majority of companies only used the ads for branding with no tie in to their website, email or social media. So, the message effectively dies after :30 seconds. Smart brands include their website or a hashtag where viewers can get more information or extend the message.

Three things I took from the ads:

1. Car Companies Struggle to Make a Decent Super Bowl Ad

I can’t remember the last time there was a really good car commercial for the Super Bowl. This year was no different. Either they go too deep into a story and don't explain the benefits of the car or they go too deep into the mechanics and don't make it entertaining.
  • Prius may have come the closest with their #GoPriusGo ad. It was clear the features they were promoting. However, the ad was too long and I got bored halfway through.
  • Kia scores points for using Christopher Walken, but that was more good casting than a good commercial.
  • Hyundai was 0 for 3 for their spots. $15 million wasted…and that’s just for the ad time.
2. Just throwing celebrities into an ad doesn’t mean you’ve got a hit on your hands.

As usual, there were a lot of celebrities featured in ads this year. But, few of the ads actually accomplished anything for their brands. The following ads worked better because they had good writing and/or told an interesting story:
  • Coke Mini with the Hulk and Ant-Man: Entertaining, but couldn’t tell the Coke can was smaller than a regular can. It looked huge when Ant-Man had it and tiny when the Hulk had it.
  • TurboTax with Anthony Hopkins: TurboTax is free, so there’s nothing for Anthony Hopkins to sell. So, he can’t be a sell-out. Funny take, even if it did remind me exactly of the product placement scene in Wayne’s World.
  • Shock Top with TJ Miller: TJ Miller isn’t exactly a household name, which adds to the charm of this ad. Probably the funniest ad of the night.
But the majority just missed the mark with the focus being on the celebrities and not the brand:
  • with Key and Peele: I’m a huge Key and Peele fan, and they were funny. But, from the ad, I have no idea what does.
  • Skittles with Steven Tyler: This was just an embarrassingly bad ad for both Skittles and Steven Tyler. Not funny in any way…just incoherent crap.
  • with Jeff Goldblum and Lil Wayne: Another just painfully bad commercial. The Jeffersons theme was the only part of the ad that made any sense. 
3. Cute animals officially jumped the shark this year

This was a bad year for cute animals…and animals in general. To top it off, Budweiser didn’t even offer a true Clydesdale commercial. They said those ads don’t sell as much beer, but they’re much more entertaining. Anyway, these ads tried, but just didn’t quite make it:
  • Heinz Ketchup with the Weiner Stampede: I know. I’m probably the only person that didn’t think this was the cutest ad ever. It was ok, but the dogs weren’t even the cutest part of the ad. The little girl dressed as the ketchup packet was way cuter than the dogs. And what’s with the song choice?
  • Honda and their Queen-singing sheep: I like Queen, but why were sheep singing? It just made no sense. It wasn’t cute. I just wanted it to end.
  • Doritos and the dogs: In what may be the worst Doritos ad of all time, dogs dress up like a human in a trench coat. That wasn’t funny when they did it in most of the cartoons I watched as a kid. It’s still not funny.
Oh, and I’m purposing not mentioning the Mountain Dew ad. I don’t know what to make of that thing. Was it an animal? Either way it was just annoying and doesn’t need to be remembered.

Well, that’s my take on Super Bowl 50. What are your thoughts? What stood out to you? Did you have a different opinion on any of the commercials? Tell us in the comments below. Maybe #51 will be better. Let’s hope. Oh, and go Browns!