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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment it happened. Maybe it was the first time I saw that trucker crying in his beer while the Blues Brothers sang “Stand By Your Man,” but on occasion I like to run the dial through the XM country music channels and have a listen.

And I don’t think I’ve heard any song more than Dierks Bentley “Free and Easy Down The Road I Go” on country radio.  It bridges the old and new and takes you back to the country of yore, yet is still fresh with a sound that’s modern.  Listen to it HERE.  You might say that REAL country music became extinct somewhere around the early 80’s in favor of horrendously polished and confectionery, factory-churned “hits.”  To that I say you’re correct in large part and long live Jimmie, Merle, Johnny, Willie, Waylon, etc.

If you haven’t been to Nashville, you haven’t been to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.  And you’re the worse for it.  You might think you don’t care about boot-kickers, and if so you’re missing out on the history of America.  From slaves to the Dust Bowl to the Elvis solid gold Cadillac and the history/tragedy of the Williams family. To see the old footage of people fiddlin’ and dancin’ and watching Jimmie Rodgers sing you become an instant believer and a fan.

My point?  To help evangelize that Dierks Bentley will host his Miles & Music for Kids celebrity motorcycle ride and concert series in Seattle on Sept. 18th. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital. The approximately 45-minute ride will depart from Destination Harley-Davidson of Tacoma and travel to the Puyallup Fair. Tickets go on sale March 27th.

Should be fun!

Photo courtesy of Dierks Bentley.

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As an “oldster” I remember a time when automobiles (or motorcycles for that matter) didn’t come standard with FM radios.

Back in 1978, KINK FM ran entire vinyl album sides without a break.  The year prior they added Les Sarnoff as Music Director.  And I remember waiting in the car to hear songs end so that I could learn who the artist was or determine if it was a new release. I haven’t done that in 20 years with any commercial station.    Why?

Advertising.

The ad machine ensures there are 26 minutes of ads every hour and in this diminishing musical content/increased ad model every radio station has made changes – for the worst in my view – with huckster ads interrupting the music and snake-oil voices peddling foreclosed houses or bankruptcy evasion schemes leaving listeners with airwave SPAM just like late night TV.  Thank the FCC, which allowed Clear Channel and Entercom to acquire anyone, in turn they fired the music programmers and dialed up the wattage on the commercial noise in cookie-cutter repetition for every market – and play the same crappy 25 song sets 24×7.

As for AM radio, I suspect that most people under 40 never press the “band” button unless they want to hear “talk” stations degrade us with their vulgarity.  So, it would seem there is a market for satellite programming, but of course the niche listener/technology shifts are affecting all media outlets ad revenue and some are struggling more than others.  Services such as XM/Sirius are essentially replacing what used to be the independent small market radio.  Satellite radio is a lot like FM in the ’70s where stations varied considerably and few advertisements crept in.  But that’s a changing as many of us have witnessed and complained about on our so-called $15 monthly “commercial-free” service.

Satellite radio for motorcycles up until recently was only available by third-party suppliers as radio add-on kits.  Back in 2005 Harley-Davidson announced a partnership with XM and a year later offered an aftermarket solution based on the Road Tech AL20.  Then all the major motorcycle manufactures started to offer up satellite radio as part of the standard audio systems.  H-D made it standard on many touring motorcycles as part of the Advanced Harmon/Kardon Audio System or as kit upgrade.  In the fall of 2007, Kawasaki partnered with XM and made satellite radio standard on the Vulcan 1600 Nomad touring models.  Honda was also quick to jump on the trend.

XM/Sirius provides little detail on their listener stats.  They provide stats on the number of overall subscribers, but they don’t release demographics or detail subscription numbers by vehicle type or channel.  That makes it impossible to get public information on the number of motorcycle subscribers.  In fact, many of the GPS (Garmin, RadioTech, Zumo etc.) have satellite radios built in, but again there is no subscriber info.  I’d like to analyze a consumer breakdown because I suspect that less than 5% of the satellite enable radios on motorcycles have an active subscription.

So how do you roll?  Whenever, wherever 150 channels of information and entertainment have to be at your side?  Or are you there to experience the ride with all your senses intact?  Do you want the freedom to listen to commercial-free music while crisscrossing the country or are you out there to enjoy a quiet ride?

Don’t know what a satellite radio is?  Then more info on a XM Satellite Motorcycle Antenna HERE and nothing like an endorsement from OCC’s Paul Jr. who states satellite radio is “cushy” HERE.

Photo courtesy of H-D

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Nick Jonas - Harley Clothing and H-D/Ford

Targeting younger buyers.  It’s not a news flash!

Harley-Davidson has been executing a number of marketing efforts aimed at 20-somethings from whom Harley is an aspirational brand.  The H-D SVP and CMO, Mark-Hans Richer, has pitched the brand to the young-rebel-with-tats ethos through attitude-enhanced ads, social media efforts, and lifestyle programs around counterculture happenings.  And Mr. Richer should know.  He used to head up marketing for General Motors’ defunct Pontiac brand until he left in 2007 to take on the marketing helm at H-D.

The result?  Like magnets, teenagers everywhere are attracted to the motorcycle counterculture lifestyle.  As proof positive the above photo is 17-year-old Nick Jonas (of Jonas Brothers fame) who coordinated his clothing with a Harley-Davidson Special Edition Ford truck and a matching Harley-Davidson sweatshirt while he refuels his vehicle.  OMG!  Like the best band evah, like who knew that, like Nick pumping his own gas would be like such a hawt H-D fashion statement?!  Clearly a Jonas Brothers haircut is more devious that we first thought. Is this priceless H-D advertising for the younger generation or should youthful motorcycle fans across the nation be sickened?   I wonder if Harley marketing had a hand in the fashion wear for this almost 20-something motorcycle magnet.  Hey when you’ve got it, you got it!

In a conference room on West Juneau Avenue I can see it now.  A Jonas Brothers concept motorcycle.  A Jonas Brother movie, with H-D product placements where Nick as an orphaned teenager along with his hipster dog set out to save the planet on a Dark Custom when all the land is in ruins.  Harley will ask the Jonas Brothers to rename their next album and call it the Milwaukee Daydream.  Huh?  Is this what they mean by Harley-Davidson fandom?  Nick will probably have a couple of unanswered questions like “Where is Milwaukee?” and “What are motorcycles?”, but hey try and enjoy yourself and have fun with that choreographed in a self-important, “I’m so cool!” kind of thing you do.

Forty years ago, if you worked hard and saved your pennies, you too could live the life of the rich and famous, if only for a night, or a weekend.  Now the gulf between the worlds of the rich and the poor, between the haves and the have-nots, is so vast as to seem uncrossable, and the public is upset.  Not only right wing Tea Party members, but left wing Democrats.  How did we get such a raw deal?  It’s about jobs and foreclosures, stupid!  How did Obama and his minions get it so wrong?   But, I’ve digressed.

Back to Nick, his hair cut and this manufactured hipness script.  I’m not really the kind of person to get caught up in the latest trends or fashions.  Some days, I’ll wear a black t-shirt and then other days it’s a white one.  The media has trumped up the Jonas Brothers.  The industry said they were above criticism, because they were getting kids to come to their shows.  But can you name one Jonas Brothers hit?  I can’t.

Music or not, seeing Harley-Davidson with Nick Jonas stresses out my “Tolerability Index.”

Photo courtesy GSI Media and Just Jared

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Sunday you awake from a 40 year coma.   You want to know what’s new in America.  What do you do?

Watch Super Bowl XLIV of course and absorb the musical half-time extravaganza!  You’re dumbfounded and thinking déjà vu?  What kind of hole have I fallen down?  Relax.  Just be glad you missed the Grammy’s and Pink flying high in the sky.  If that wasn’t all wet!

Nothing better than a “parade of legends” while shucking a crawdad in the middle of this gumbo-like stew of sports, celebrity, excess and Americana – have you noticed that the half-time events just get exponentially worse (Lewis Black)?

Will XLIV be the BSBE (best Super Bowl, evah)?  WHO knows.

I say who cares!  Last year we had Bruce Springsteen.  He grossed more than $200M on the road and became just another commercial production.  Previously we had Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, U2, Tom Petty, Aerosmith and don’t forget Super Bowl XXXV (Baltimore 34, New York Giants 7 in Tampa).  What stood out the most from that game was the courageous performance of Styx.  They performed before the game, accompanied by hundreds of dancers in white unitards that had giant sails sewn into the backs, which they flapped in unison during the chorus of “Come Sail Away.” If that wasn’t the saddest display of a musical gig we’ve ever seen at a Super Bowl.  That is until the game in Houston, where “Two Tickets to Paradise,” Eddie Money performed before kickoff next door to the actual stadium.

I think the reason these halftime shows suck is because it requires a unique, powerful talent to compress the funk and energy of a 2-hour performance down into a 15-minute set. Most artists can’t handle it.  And how about Super Bowl XLI (Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17 in Miami)… it had a dream-like quality to it.  There were the 250-pound men dressed in skintight and wildly colorful parakeet bodysuits lined up in the end zone before the Cirque du So-lame pregame show. And don’t forget Jesse Jackson’s thoughtful interview on the South Beach boardwalk 100 feet away from a guy dancing around in nothing more than a Boston Red Sox thong.  Classy.

So you can say what you want about the hype, the money and the misplaced priorities of Super Bowl week (it’s all true), but if the game can’t create any kind of public response then it’s up to Harley-Davidson and the Maxim Super Bowl Party!  The VIP list includes the Harley-Davidson Drag Racer Valerie Thompson, the original Go Daddy Girl Candice Michelle, and of course Indy Car Racer Danica Patrick. Even the Teutels from Orange County Choppers will do a drive by and unveil “The Go Daddy Chopper.”  I’m sure to boost ratings they’ll have Hooter girls explain football or force Paul Sr. to sit between two would-be cheerleaders, balancing an ice cream sundae in his lap (from the all you-could-eat buffet), a video game controller in one hand and an ice-cold beer in the other, while playing “Madden.” Thank me later for a ‘Captain Obvious’ moment, but that my friends, is what Super Bowl advertising is all about!  Even the Ringling Bros. elephants don’t work it this hard.

And the game?

I wanted the Vikings, but now I’m pulling for the Saints. Nothing against Manning…  I love Tabasco!  And if that wasn’t enough of a reason the Manning’s already have two Super Bowl rings and something happy coming out of the Superdome might erase the vision of Katrina’s squalor.  Besides does anyone do a parade better than New Orleans?

UPDATE: February 8, 2010 — The advertising was lame!  Game was okay.  The team and the city that needed it most won!  As for The Who...let’s face it… their credibility went south after they sold out to the TV crime drama, but I hope I’m still rocking like Roger and Pete when I’m in my sixties.  Who’s next?  I say pull in John Mayer and Keith Urban as a pair of modern classics.  Here is Billboards top 10 half-time shows.

Photo courtesy of The Who

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Ludacris

When you dine with the devil, bring a long spoon.” — Machiavelli

Having a ‘thug’ like Ludacris anywhere near your marketing campaign may not be a good thing.  Yet, Harley-Davidson has decided having a pitchman who glamorizes a life of guns, violence, drugs and is disrespectful of women is EXACTLY what’s needed to turn around motorcycle sales.

The “hoes in different area codes” rapper has released many songs that convey and represent his morals.  Even President Obama said he wouldn’t let his daughters listen to his rap, but did admit Ludacris was a ‘great businessman’.  Political pandering is not my point here.

Recently H-D collaborated with RIDES Magazine to create custom bikes for recording artists Ludacris and Shawnna.  This promotion was in part to gear up for the release of their album “Battle of the Sexes”, where the artists worked with RIDES and “New York Nick” Genender, shop owner of NYC Choppers, to create bikes that reflect their individual personalities.  There is a behind-the-scenes video of the build HERE and more videos/photos can be viewed at RIDES.  In addition, they’re giving away a motorcycle to one lucky winner: a customized 2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom, created in part with suggestions by RIDES readers. Learn more about the bike or enter for a chance to win HERE.

Is this a shrewd advertising move to use a pitchman who’s going to draw attention to a community that H-D wants to sell motorcycles to or is this a mistake to promote and associate the H-D trademarks with a person that espouses violence, degrading sex and substance abuse?

Does anyone remember how fast Pepsi pulled the ‘musician’ from its soft-drink advertisements in 2002?

Photo courtesy of H-D and RIDE.

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Keith Urban

Keith Urban

Whoa!  My two previous posts on the current state of the Harley-Davidson state was clearly like a sad country song in an old rundown coffee shop, yup one of those “bummer zones” so, we need a change of scenery.

Speaking of, have you been to Nashville?  If you haven’t been to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum you’re the worse for it.  Yeah, you may think you don’t care about boot-kickers, but you’re missing out on the history of America.  From slavery to the Dust Bowl to Elvis and the tragedy of the Williams family.  To go to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is to become a fan.  And to insure that it lives on, Vince Gill proposed a “All For The Hall” event where every artist cough up one night of revenue for the Hall.

Keith Urban is one who took him up on it and at the Sommet Center (the Staples Center of Nashville), he hosted some of country music’s finest as they raised money for the Hall.   Keith and his band played one my favorites, “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me“:

“I got no money in my pockets
I got a hole in my jeans
I had a job and I lost it
But it won’t get to me”

That’s the power of music.  It crowds out all the negative and replaces the bad thoughts with joy and inspiration.  And when you watch Keith Urban ride his Harley and hear him wail on his guitar, you’ll smile with a good feeling.  I don’t know about you, but after yesterday’s jaw-dropping news from H-D and the layoffs at Buell I needed some “sunshine blown up my skirt.”

Life.  It’s full of hopes and dreams.  And victories and losses.  What gets you through is your friends, family and the music.

Photo courtesy of Keith Urban.

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DonkeyKanye West is a ‘jackass’.  And not because of his 2007 video for “Stronger” which used a genuine Japanese motorcycle gang in the video.

Here’s the 411 — President Obama ‘off-the-record’ called Kanye West a ‘jackass’ for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won.  You can listen to the audio HERE

Yes, Kanye did hand the microphone back to her, but like the 19 year old she is, she was overwhelmed and couldn’t speak.  Thus cementing her status as a singing teenage naif.   The ABC reporter, Terry Moran, who overheard the casual between-us-folks chatter — which is often a part of the technical set-up before an interview officially begins — tweeted yesterday that President Obama was “off the record” in an interview with CNBC which a few hundred thousand people @RT the Kanye ‘ass’ outing.

I have a new level of respect for Obama.  Calling out Kanye was the right thing to do.  Yet, the jackass quote was soon retracted!   ABC issued an apology to both CNBC and the White House (and removed the Tweet, but not before folks screen-grab images of it).  It’s difficult to know, but what if a Caucasian had stormed the stage and used such language to an African-American entertainer?  Yeah, I’m on thin ice with an inference to the “R” word, but it does create a moment of pause.  For those who think the entire event was scripted or “staged” then you’ll appreciate this site.

The losers in all of this is the American public.  Real stories can’t get traction.  Health care is too complex and we’ve got ADHD.  We’ve become a nation of public spectacles, gossip, and misinformation.  Sure frivolity has a place, but what we revere in popular culture has almost nothing of value.  Furthermore, who didn’t know the “K-man” had been acting like a jackass previously?  It’s like his jackassed-ness was his career.  Finally now he truly is a superstar!   Stay classy Kanye! 

You might think I’m over doing it here, but… People spend money dressing and living like rappers, going to the Palms in Vegas to splash in the pool while consuming overpriced liquor and flash hand signs.  In a “me” society, who can expect anybody to behave properly, with humility.  Twenty four hour news from one celebrity mishap to another not twenty four hours on explaining bills in Congress, or Supreme Court decisions.  We indeed need a readjustment.  But they need the ratings!

Kanye is, ratings.  For anybody who’s got a trinket to sell.  And we’re buying it! 

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