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Posts Tagged ‘Eagles’

Let’s be clear.  Lady Gaga (a.k.a. Stefani Joanne Anglina Germanotta) grates on me.

Her lifetime achievement of ten songs are not only a derivative, but uninspired.  More on music later.

She’s been everywhere: award shows, gay-rights rallies, magazine covers, stadiums, YouTube, Letterman, SNL, Grammy’s, etc.  She consistently makes headlines for wearing outrageous outfits – a meat dress here, a spiky scepter there – and for spouting sound bites such as, “I can mentally give myself an orgasm” or “I smoke a lot of pot when I write songs” … it’s gag-a, gag-a all the time.

She is clearly a celebrity overexposed and should just go away.  But, her “little monsters” are goo goo over gaga and won’t let that happen so, what to do?

Call Mark-Hans Richer to suggest he create and capitalize on a “Sputnik Moment” as President Obama evangelized.  So here it is… drum roll please…the headline would read: Harley-Davidson signs Lady Gaga to an endorsement deal!  I can’t think of anyone else other than Lady Gaga who cuts across multiple gender identities, social boundaries, is an erotic taboo breaker, a mainstream manufactured product who claims to be singing for freaks, the rebellious and the dispossessed.  If there ever was a Harley-Davidson brand ambassador she would be it!

So, I put the question out to the Northwest Harley Blog think tank (a.k.a. my pet cat Smurf!) and the name H-D: Lady Gaga Edition rose to the top.  A close second was Lady Gaga: Dare To Be Different clothing line.  Honestly I think Lady Gaga’s fashion style is weird and qualifies her for worst dressed, but what do I know?  My fashion wardrobe is mostly black t-shirts.  However, the youth crowd demographic — which H-D desperately seeks – see’s her as agent provocateur.

Now I could wax on about some ideas of a limited edition, “Bites of Enlightenment” Sportster model with Beef Jerky strips as the paint theme or “The Fame Monster” FatBoy model complete with a “Glam” accessory kit like a hair bow, hat, sunglasses, gloves and even a couture neck brace!   But you’d likely think I’m just grousing and I wanted to get back to music.

Speaking of, there’s no cheating music.  Let’s be clear, you can imitate, you can rip off what’s been done before, but there is no short cut.  There’s a schism between “performers” and true artistry.  The artist stories are all the same.  They bought records and practiced in their basements until they were good enough to get a gig.  Then they gigged long enough until someone noticed.  Then they got a chance and some broke through.

The Eagles - 1973 on BBC

Speaking of breaks.  A reader emailed me a video.  My jaw dropped.  It was an Eagles performance on the BBC.  It was like being transported back to 1973 instantly.

So for all you Gaga haters out there the clip begins with “Train Leaves Here This Morning.”  What’s stunning is the band is sitting on stools singing all the music.  ALL the music.  Incredible harmonies.  There’s no one in the background, nothing electronic-fied or on tape.  The 4-part harmonies are almost perfect.  And when something is almost perfect you get “chicken skin.”  Hell, Bernie Leadon is wearing a UCLA t-shirt which was likely the first thing in his suitcase.  It was about the music not the look.  Randy Meisner smiles when singing “A Certain Kind of Fool” and when Don Henley sings “Witchy Woman” it takes you back to the first time you ever heard it, when you had no idea who he was.  This is a band.  Remember bands?

This is not Glee.  It’s not a look-a-like tribute to Madonna.  It’s like stumbling onto the Dead Sea Scrolls.  You can be broke and still sing “Take It Easy” with the wind in your face on the open road and you’re right where you want to be.  It’s reminiscent of a time where radio was about music, not commercials.  This is the way it use to be.  Something that exists in the mind of the artist/players not some stylist standing in front of the mirror perfecting your ‘do.

Photo courtesy of Lady Gaga, The Eagles, BBC and various publishers.

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Concert promotion blew up in the ‘70’s during the development and heyday of classic rock.  Stadiums or festivals were where the gigs took place as music drove the culture and everybody wanted to participate.

Thirty plus years later and along comes the internet.  Suddenly everyone is no longer focused on the same thing and niche was king.  Yet the major music labels continue to play the same old tune of trying to get acts TV exposure and on terrestrial radio with 22-minutes of commercials an hour, but the public is sick of being dictated to by music corporations purveying artists only in it for the buck and have tuned out.   The end result?

Is today’s modern concert business where the average person feels fleeced by excessive fees and high ticket prices and have decided to pass on most concerts.  In fact, ‘twenty-ten’ might go down as the turning point year that devastated the concert business.  Look at the signs from SoundScan.  Arizona concert boycotts.  Cancelled concerts by the Eagles, poor showing for John Mayer, Bon Jovi downsizes the number of cities, the death of Lilith Fair, winery offers for Court Yard Hounds, and the ever popular $10 concert cash coupons if you can drink a dozen 1-litre bottles of Diet Coke at $1.49.  The list goes on.

H-D Tent @ Mayhem

Disregarding the external conditions of the concert promotion sphere, is Harley-Davidson marketing.  Their demographic ‘machine’ determined that ‘twenty-ten’ is the year to double down on seeking young motorcycle buyers and do so at…music concerts!   Huh?

It’s true.  They launched their H-D Golden Horse Saloon at the Rockstar Mayhem Festival two weeks ago in San Bernardino, Ca., in an effort to market to young, edgy potential customers.  The third concert of the tour was last week at the White River Amphitheater, in Auburn, Wa.  The festival includes Korn, Rob Zombie, Lamb of God, Five Finger Death Punch, Hatebreed and several other bands. Last month H-D had a similar set-up at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN.

Rob Zombie (R) and drummer (L)

The goal of any Harley-Davidson special events marketing campaign is to generate awareness and increase sales among the target audience.  It’s well known in music circles that the concert business is in the toilet.  Sure you can talk about the economy, all the external business factors, but they’re secondary to the acts, the music.  It’s doesn’t matter how great the venue is, certainly doesn’t matter how great the promoter is, it comes down to the quality of the act and whether they can draw a crowd.  Given sky high concert prices and that we live in an on-demand world where you experience only that which you want means this demographic outreach/tactic is unlikely to pay motorcycle sales dividends for Harley.

H-D Demographic -- Young Edgy Potential Customer

One notable item…  Mayhem could arguably be the loudest festival on the planet giving the sparse crowds so much ‘metal’ that many will feel aurally violated after the gig.

Photos courtesy of H-D, Mayhem Festival and Rob Zombie.

Bonus: If you’re into this type of ‘Metal’ music mix there is a free 9-song download via iTunes (good through Sept 30th) using the following code to redeem the songs: 9EL3JJRW3JNF

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