5 Marketing Lessons from the 121212 Concert for Sandy Relief


Rock concerts for causes have come a long way since George Harrison and Ravi Shankar organized the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 and raised $250,000 to help refugees in war-torn Bangladesh. The Concert for Bangladesh was an untelevised rock show (actually two of them) witnessed by 40,000 people in Madison Square Garden. By contrast, last week’s 121212 Concert for Sandy Relief was a multimedia experience accessible to 2 billion people globally, earning $35 million in one night (with millions more to come). Here are five marketing lessons from the 121212 Concert:

1. Extend Your Reach

The 121212 Concert, which supported Robin Hood Relief (a highly regarded organization assisting Hurricane Sandy victims), made it virtually impossible for you to miss the show.  The concert was broadcast on 39 television stations, streamed to 25 websites, and aired on 50 radio stations, creating “the most widely distributed live musical event in history,” according to Nielsen. By contrast, even the highly successful 2001 Concert for New York City (which also benefited Robin Hood Relief) was broadcast on VH1 exclusively. If you wanted to watch the concert, they gave you no reason to miss it.


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It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll and Technology for the Rolling Stones

How do rock and roll bad boys stay relevant when they grow older and less dangerous?

The Rolling Stones no longer symbolize youthful rebellion and decadence as they did 50 years ago. So like a smart business that refines its brand, the Stones now focus on one core asset: their rock legacy. As the Rolling Stones celebrate their 50th anniversary with a limited-run tour that came to the United States December 8, the four principal band members (average age: 68) have assumed the role of the blues greats who inspired them to become the Rolling Stones in the first place:  playing their music onstage until they drop. And the Stones are innovating with digital technology to share that legacy. In doing so, the Rolling Stones provide a lesson for marketers on how to update your brand and find new ways to create a valuable audience experience.

The recent 50 and Counting Tour concerts in London and New York, drawing upon a catalog of songs such as “Gimme Shelter” and “Paint It, Black,” have reminded fans and critics of the band’s musical legacy. And you simply cannot overstate what the Stones have accomplished in their storied career. Especially in their first 10 years, the group created music that was by turns brutal, beautiful, threatening, and galvanizing. Their most well known songs and albums routinely rank near or at the top of critics’ lists of the greatest and most influential works in rock history.

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Why Authors Must Act Like APEs

It’s easy to draw parallels between publishing and music recording industries. In both cases, the traditional gatekeepers (record labels and book publishers) have faced withering disruption while digital has empowered artists to take more control of their own careers. But arguably writers can enjoy a faster path to success than musicians thanks to the emergence of publishing platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and the more mainstreamed process of writing versus recording (fewer production tools needed). That’s why APE: How to Publish a Book, a new book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch, is so important: it’s the most comprehensive book on the market for writers to learn how to write, publish, finance, and market their own books. APE is a manifesto for writing in the digital age.

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Fresco Kane Delivers St. Louis Swag for So So Def

His name is Fresco Kane, and he has all the swag of an up-and-coming rap star. As well he should. Fresco Kane just dropped a hot new mixtape December 4 and has captured the eyes and ears of Music Mogul Jermaine Dupri, who recently made Fresco Kane the latest addition to Dupri’s So So Def label. And believe it or not, a sentimental 1970s soft-rock song helped him break through.

Fresco Kane’s songs capture the classic bravado of St. Louis rap in the tradition of the many artists Dupri has discovered in the Gateway City — Nelly and Chingy among them — but according to Dupri, Kane brings his own distinct style and wordplay.

“All St. Louis artists have that something that stands out about them,” Dupri told me in an interview for Superhype. “Something fresh with a lot of slang and clever beats. They are students of what’s going on in the streets. But Fresco Kane has a confidence and feel for beats that is all his own.”

Jermaine Dupri

In a song like “Hot,” he combines his typically macho and confident word play with a rich production that includes random sound distortion, tumbling drum beats, a catchy synth overlay, and an angelic female vocal chorus that somehow works amid the aggressive ode to cruising in your car.

“Up in Hurr,” featuring Dupri, reprises the tumbling drum beats and smooth synth in a more melodious but raunchy exploration of the joys of sex and Ciroc. The song evokes “Hump Wit It,” a track produced by Dupri earlier this year for Kane and featuring Busta Rhymes.

Dupri met Kane in February after Kane’s manager Abe Givens arranged a meeting at Dupri’s SouthSide Studios in Atlanta.

Dupri’s first impressions: “He felt ready. I heard the music and knew he was someone I should be working with.”

What first caught Dupri’s ear was Kane’s use of a sample from, of all things, the soft-rock standard “I Go Crazy” by Paul Davis, in Kane’s song, “They Do.”

“I’ve always been thinking of sampling ‘I Go Crazy,'” Dupri says. “When I first heard the sample, I wondered, ‘What’s making Fresco Kane think like me? What triggered the use of that sample?” And beyond the music, Fresco Kane acted “like a mature-minded artist” from the start.

From there, a relationship was born.

According to Dupri, the two are collaborating on new music. “We work right off the top of the head,” Dupri says. “I create music for him to review, and he does the same for me. We might not even agree with what we are doing at first, but that’s how you start to get to know each other.”

Dupri adds, “Fresco Kane represents the younger generation of rap. It’s a whole different flow and mindset from the older generation. As I make more records that fit his mentality, he’s going to get better.”

In the song “Fresco Kane,” Kane name checks Jermaine Dupri (“Got me addicted to him like he’s cocaine”) and apologizes for the long wait. Apology accepted. Now bring us some more.