Pink Floyd’s new (and final) album, The Endless River, had every reason to fail on its release November 10. At a time when album sales are in a free fall, the Floyd released an unabashed 53-minute artifact of the era of album-oriented rock. The Endless River consists mostly of ambient instrumentals (culled from the group’s 1994 album The Division Bell) and no Spotify-friendly singles. Lead guitarist David Gilmour cautioned that The Endless River as “not for the iTunes, downloading-individual-tracks generation” (a comment that most certainly horrified the Floyd’s Columbia Record Label). And yet, The Endless River is succeeding, at least by today’s standards: the album was the most pre-ordered ever on Amazon U.K., is Number 1 in the United Kingdom, and is already the top-selling album of 2014. I believe The Endless River‘s success is a testament to the power of branding and staying true to yourself.
The Power of Branding
Pink Floyd had not released an album in 20 years and only four since 1983. Of its founding members — Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright — only Mason remained with the Floyd in 2014, along with virtuoso guitarist David Gilmour, who joined the band in late 1967. Barrett had been kicked out of the band decades ago, Waters had left amid great acrimony, and Wright had succumbed to cancer in 2008. But the Floyd has always been both a band and a successful brand — one that that encompasses a memorable name, successful music, multi-media, merchandise, and striking visual iconography.
Going back to 1967, Pink Floyd created enduring albums that transcended the progressive rock genre and resonated with generations of listeners (including me). And its partnership with art design group Hipgnosis resulted in the creation of album cover designs and artwork that fascinated fans in the 1970s (during the band’s glory years) and remain relevant in today’s era of visual storytelling. Even when the band was not producing music after The Division Bell, Pink Floyd remained in the Continue reading →
Pink Floyd would have been a perfect match for the visually oriented era of Pinterest and Tumblr had the band emerged today.
At the height of Pink Floyd’s popularity in the 1970s, the Floyd’s visually arresting album covers and iconography complemented the artistry of the its music and generated buzz that would make the Word of Mouth Marketing Association proud. Nowhere is the power of Pink Floyd’s visual appeal more apparent than the cover for the album The Dark Side of the Moon, released 40 years ago in March. The Dark Side of the Moon is not only one of the greatest albums ever made, its cover became an visual icon for Pink Floyd itself — a quiet, mysterious team of four musicians who let their music and visual stories speak for them. For its ability to create mystery and intrigue for four decades, The Dark Side of the Moon joins my hall of fame of memorable album covers.
The Dark Side of the Moon cover art created intrigue when the album landed in record stores in March 1973. At the time, Pink Floyd was on the cusp of becoming a mainstream success with a growing fan base. The cover, depicting white light passing through a prism to form the bright colors of the spectrum against a stunning black field, invited listeners to Continue reading →
When EMI Music announced in May that the record company would re-issue the Pink Floyd musical catalog via re-mastered compact discs, vinyl editions, and Blu-rays, a friend of mine in his 20s asked me who on earth would buy such a blatantly physical product in the digital era. Answer: Baby Boomers. The Baby Boomer generation is sizeable (nearly 80 million strong) and willing to buy music in analog form.
Unless you know something about the increasingly powerful Baby Boomer generation, the EMI re-issue certainly defies logic. Beginning September 26, EMI will shower Pink Floyd fans with a slew of analog goodies, including:
A re-mastered version of the band’s classic The Dark Side of the Moon via a two-disc “Experience” set, a vinyl LP, and a six-disc “Immersion” set (the latter retailing for $110 on Amazon as of September 25).
Fourteen remastered Pink Floyd albums, available individually and as a “Discovery” box set ($180 on Amazon @September 25).
In November, EMI will release the band’s 1975 album Wish You Were Here via five-disc and two-disc editions and then The Wall will receive similar treatment in February 2012.
The packaging promises to be extravagant. The Dark Side of the Moon Immersion box will include a booklet designed by Storm Thorgerson (who designed the original album art), an art print, and even a scarf. And the music is said to be remastered in superior Continue reading →