All the young dudes.
Amazingly, a diverse as their musical genres were, they were both the kind of rock icon that all respected. They get lauded as being legendary and true originals. Indeed, they both were that. As a fan of heavy metal, punk, alternative and glam music, it makes me feel warm. As a fan of music that fits more into sub-genres than mass appeal, I know the truth. Both of these artists struggled to create their art, and they struggled to get people to pay attention. Maybe they never really wanted attention. Maybe their art was just about how it connected to people who found it, rather than attempts to appeal to a larger audience. Motorhead toured incessantly and recorded new music at a frenetic pace. David Bowie took his time. The die-hard fans stuck with them, but most admired from afar. The fans from afar could not always click with the musical output, and it was often easier to have a poster, wear a t-shirt or have a sticker on their MacBooks than dive deep into their actual musical output. Maybe, on a Friday night, those who respected from afar them would watch a few video clips on YouTube. For the hardcore fans, the more obscure the better. The deeper the hardcore fans could dive, the better.
In 2006, I wrote a blog post titled, A Blog Is Like Lemmy From Motorhead.
This is what I wrote…
My past is coming back to haunt me. I spent many years as a music writer. In fact, my first professional journalism gig was interviewing Tommy Lee from Motley Crue in 1989, as The Crue was about to release Dr. Feelgood. It was a sweet ride. I got the chance to really learn, understand and take part in the music business. During that time, I had the opportunity to interview Lemmy from Motorhead. Within the rock circle, Lemmy is the equivalent of Jesus. A true pioneer. But, unlike most rock stars, Lemmy has a couple of really big warts on his face, very greasy hair and truly lives the “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll lifestyle.” Basically, he says and does what he wants and never answers to anyone, but himself.
A blog can’t be Bon Jovi. A blog is much more like Lemmy.
You can get away with mis-spelled words, non-precise grammar, and it’s supposed to have more of a stream-of-consciousness flow to it. A blog is the glory of a personal voice – warts and all. That is why people are gravitating towards them. Deep down, we want companies to speak our language. We’re tired of jargon. We’re zoning out when we hear phrases like “best of breed” or “end to end solution.” We want to know that business cares about us, and that they treasure our loyalty. We want more… and we’re starting with a conversation that has a human voice behind it.
A blog is Lemmy. It’s become a form of brand democratization because we’re all letting corporations know that the chase is better than the catch.
Blogs – loud, fast and rude – warts and all.
Culture, a cult and the cult of fame.
I cringe a little when I re-read that blog post from a decade ago. It was different times for blogging and social media. Reflecting back – over the past few weeks – and living through the passing of two iconic music pioneers that impacted my life, I often think about the rules these iconoclasts lived by. The philosophies that drove their inspiration and why – being so different than most – they were able to connect with so many. Much has been written over the years about the correlation of bands (musicians) and brands. Brands aspire to be bands, if you really think about it. Over the next fews days, weeks and months, we’re all going to be exposed to a lot of content about these artists (clearly, I’m adding on to the pile!). As you sift through the mass amounts of content, editorial and personal anecdotes, reflect a little deeper on how their work (both through their art and communication of it) built an audience. It’s a veritable goldmine of value. No brand can be Lemmy. No brand can be Bowie. But, brands can look at their recipe of how they created value for their fans. How they enabled them, and empowered them to make their days just a little bit better. How being different, unique and creative – in their own right – created something more than a listener… but a follower. How these followers – over time – became a part of the music and how they function and flow together. Brands spend a lot of lip service about building true fans, but have many have the real ingredients necessary to deliver on that? How many are willing to be different, take chances and speak to a very unique core audience? Bowie and Lemmy leave a legacy. How many brands can really do that as well?
Great brands can be like great bands (or artists). The question is this: are they really willing to do what it takes to put it out there?