The Power of the Crowd

This past weekend I attended two shows by the popular “jam band” Phish.   While their music was THE point — I couldn’t help but notice the clever marketing to the bands followers.

– custom, signed limited edition posters unique to each show (mine was 190/950).
– custom, VERY limited edition merit badges unique to each show (I didn’t get one but was told they made and sold 260).
– a dozen t-shirts choices at the show and more than 120 different shirts available online

The day after the show a soundboard recording was available on-line in 4 different download formats (mp3, ALAC, FLAC,FLAC-HD) priced from $9.99 to $17.95

Photos/Videos for personal use – no problem.

Bootleg/Handmade “Phish” posters, t-shirts, patches in the show’s parking lots – no problem

I posted a video of one of the 7/4/show’s live songs — a cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing In The Name Of” —- on YouTube 24 hours ago.  That video has already been viewed 6,075 times !

High quality diverse products — some off the rack and some very unique — offered in multiple outlets and formats — meeting near real-time demand to loyal followers — facilitated by a crowd of followers you don’t control that will spread “your word” virally.

There’s a message here for every business.


PS – in the 90 minutes since I posted this blog the video views have now grown to 12,585.

PPS – in the last 24 hours the views have nearly doubled again to 24,772.

UPDATE — as of 2/19/11 the video has been viewed on YouTube more than 85,000 times.


About dougcurling

a compassionate capitalist
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3 Responses to The Power of the Crowd

  1. Al Marks says:

    You and I have spoken about this very subject many times…It was originated way back in the 50s with the traveling caravans of Rock stars playing town after town after town and creating a demand and then perpetuated in the mid 70s by the Grateful Dead who made very little money off their recordings but created a cottage industry off their related merchandising, to currently people like Phish, Widespread Panic, Zac Brown, Government Mule and Dave Matthews…..A valuable lesson is to be learned by any and all businesses trying to stay alive and grow in todays fractured world of commerce whether it be e commerce or brick and mortar…If you know your customer/audience you will always survive and grow….

  2. I think you’re right. I know a lot of bands are beginning to realize their music is too easy to find and download online, and are turning to live events and merchandise to make their money, and spread their music.

    Business can use this model, too. The trick is to find those ideas that spark demand and high interest. Phish has the advantage of years of great experiences with which to build the kind of following that drives this demand, as do a lot of other big brands. But how do you build that quickly if you’re the new band/brand? It can be the key to finding raving fans willing to proselytize your brand, saving you years of expensive marketing.

  3. Ran across this in a Borders. Thought you might be interested.

    Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History

    Amazon link:

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