Artist of the Week: What Made Pat Benatar So Special?
February 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
I recently wrote a piece referencing Pat Benatar’s famous song, “Love Is A Battlefield” and it got me to thinking more about her music and what made her ‘one of the most heavily played artists in the early days of MTV‘. I mean, what really makes artists iconic? What sets those a part from so many others, allowing their music to be played decades later and still affect people so deeply?
I suspect it is the only thing that ever ties people together, right? Human connection. But if it is this simple concept, why is it so hard for so many artists to accomplish? Why isn’t everyone at the top?
In my opinion, every ‘great’ and ‘iconic’ artist not only has a deep & visceral connection with her audience but she also represents an idea. Or, in the words of the marketing world, her branding is impeccable.
For a minute, play a word game with me. When you think of McDonald’s, what immediately comes to mind? Now, when you think of Burger King, what pops up? I don’t know about you but when I thought of McDonald’s, I immediately thought of happiness and saw a flash of my 5-year-old birthday party at a McDonald’s PlayPlace. When I thought of Burger King, I immediately thought the words “McDonald’s competitor”. Now, we all know that something is…interesting about McDonald’s fries since they taste weird once they are cold. We all know that Burger King has bigger burgers and that their fries don’t have any extra stuff on it. So, just going off of the burgers & fries, Burger King probably should win. But it doesn’t…and it really hasn’t ever. Why? The world is unfair? A conspiracy theory? McDonald’s spends more on its advertising and marketing? Nope…as a matter of fact, Burger King seems to be shooting itself in the foot with its own poorly received ads.
But this isn’t a post about Burger King or McDonald’s — instead, it’s a post about the importance of branding in an artist’s career. Or, in laymen’s terms, the story that an artist conveys. Pat Benatar, likely along with her team, was able to establish a brand that elicited the words “free”, “rock n’ roll” and “rebel” that still stick to her three decades later. Prince established himself as a brand – funky, free & unexpected. Madonna is a brand that stands for being a non-conformist. Lauryn Hill was a brand that stood for self-respect, self-love and authenticity (although she is ruining the hell out of that now).
All of these artists managed to establish themselves as brands without something as free & easy as social media. In my book, social media makes it so much easier for artists to show themselves as brands and to reach the audiences who rock with them. Social networking is inherently geared towards not only individual human connection but also community interaction — two things that any artist needs to understand to grow her brand. A perfect example of someone who understands the potential of this social networking is Lil Wayne who has more leverage online than Oreo (a Nabisco brand), a product that has A LOT more money dedicated to marketing than he probably does.
I believe that artists can reach and demonstrate their strong connection & influence with their online audience, as Lil Wayne does, to showcase the existence & strength of their brand. And I’ll keep on beating on this drum because I can’t help it. In the meantime, I’m gonna keep on rocking out to Pat Benatar – she is still kicking ass with these songs.
Tagged: Arts, Bands and Artists, brand marketing, branding, burger king, entertainment marketing, Lauryn Hill, lil wayne, lil wayne oreo, Love Is a Battlefield, Marketing, mcdonald's, MTV, music, music social media, Nabisco, oreo, Pat Benatar, social media, social media marketing