Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Grumpy Old Clubbers

In which I draw an analogy between nightclubs and marketing. Perhaps.

I know a lot of DJs - some famous, most just passionate music fans - and as a result of this and a commercial association with the business of show, I have spent a fair time in clubs. A decade and a half at least to be honest, and I’ve reached the stage where I don't understand the kids of today. I’m not talking socially or personally – on that level I find (as in any generation) some of them to be inane, some of them OK and some fun to be with. What I don't understand is their attitude on the dance floor. Let me be specific

1) Why don't they dance to whatever's being played - i.e. react to the underlying beats rather than pause, wait to recognise the tune, decide that it's one they know and then re-commence dancing. It didn't used to be that way. Why is the brand so important?

2) Why do they spend so much time sending and receiving texts rather than enjoying themselves in the here and now?

3) Why, in essence, are they so keen to be led and so unwilling to just enjoy?

I could opine sociologically on all that but truly I don’t know the answer to that. However, that's the way it is and from the DJ’s perspective he either accepts it or tries to change it. Now, the acceptance option is to accept the mass worldview and, I believe, there is validity to that. But I keep asking myself whether what I judge to be the vacuous worldview is the optimal path to take for DJs or marketers? I prefer to try to change things.

For in music (and indeed all entertainment), there is a subjective element that is stronger I believe than that which exists in most other categories. A passion that defines sub cultures and genres; a passion that defines who we are at a very profound level; and a passion that reflects our attitudes long into our senility. Once a punk, always a punk. Even if you later become a pillar of society, you recognise the fellow feeling in the similar youngsters of today and, for me, that is very powerful. I think it has resonance in all business sectors.

Thus, I say that the best DJ taps into the passion of some specific clubbers by playing music about which he is passionate and which brings the audience with him. He doesn’t pander to that audience, but rather builds a following, and then draws in the followers who wouldn’t dare lead.

What does this say to me? Well it says to me that Passion = CRM. Don't worry about building customer relationships through dry software seeking to build passion. Instead, start with real passion, cry it from the rooftops and proselytise it to the masses. Those who bite will bite long and hard. They are the equivalent of the older clubbers you occasionally see. The ones who dance serenely, un-self-consciously, and better than anyone else. The ones who draw the greatest number of admiring glances from the anonymous hordes. Someone hooked them in their early days with passionate music and they still react to that passion many years on. They always will.

We’re not all DJs (despite appearances to the contrary in recent years) but we all have the opportunity to spin our own tune to our own particular audience. Do we play what we think they want to hear or do we play something that grabs them viscerally? Something, that they will love and evangelise. I think we all know the answer to that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've not been anywhere near a club in many a year but:

1) I wonder if part of the problem is that they're bombarded with just so much stuff, 24/7 from the television, radio, internet etc.

Growing up in the seventies we had Top of the Pops, the Top 40 charts on Radio 1, John Peel and Radio Luxumburg. That was it. Any music outside of this was bought and played on your own record player. God I sound old. New music was quite a treat and welcomed. I wonder if the familiarity of known band/track is now welcomed?

2) I think the sending and receiving of texts *is* them enjoying themselves in the here and now. It's a different form of communication but it very definitely is communication.

3) Why are they so willing to be led? Fear? Peer pressure is stronger now than it ever was and maybe it's just easier (for most, not all) to follow the pack.

Great to see you blogging John!

4:54 PM, April 30, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, this really hits home for me in a BIG way! I myself am one of the DJs that you mentioned that has kept my passion for the music despite the whims of the industry overall. I have turned down gigs over the years and walked away from incredible venues because I just won't compromise my music and my passion to satisfy the masses.

I play music as much for myself as I do for other people. There is something almost magical that happens in the moment when both of these are in alignment. When you play that record that strikes a chord with a room full of people, you feel it! Everyone feels it! That's why I do it - that very moment.

Sometimes I will hear a song on my iPod or on the net and I will instantly KNOW that it will grab people on the dance floor. It doesn't have to be a pop song to have that kind of effect - just a willing audience. Unfortunatly, those are harder to come by these days. There are not many venues left that are able to offer this kind of outlet and still stay in business. It makes me a little sad, but I know it's part of a cycle, and eventually will come back around.

In the meantime, I am very particular about where and when I play. If the venue and vibe is right, it's on! If not, I'm content to chill and wait for the right offer to come along. Occasionally, I venture onto the dance floor myself and have an amazing experience. But that's increasingly rare these days as well...

10:17 AM, May 02, 2006  

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