White Stripes : Band or Brand?

On the weekend I saw the White Stripes perform at the Apollo in Hammersmith. A tremendous gig it was too.

The red, white and black props, the red, white and black outfits, the rock and roll theatrics, the rock and roll – it was all there. Indeed, Jack and Meg were in good form.

But the thing that impressed me most about the gig actually took place after the gig.

As we walked outside, numerous red cape-cladded staff handed out CDs to everyone. On each CD contained a link to a website. From this link you could download the gig from that evening’s performance – as an MP3 file.

What a great little viral marketing campaign that is. Fans can download the gig they’ve juat seen for free (well almost free, £1.50 to be precise – you had to access a code via text message to be able to download the file first). And the same fands can spead the word – by sending the MP3 file – to anyone they like. As a result, more people hear their music, the word spreads, and so on and so forth. A great example of word-of-mouth marketing in action.

I don’t get out these days as much as I used to. And maybe this is happening at a lot of gigs these days. But it was the first time I’d seen it before and I was really impressed. At £1.50 a pop, I can’t imagine they’d be making much money out of it. So, I concluded that the evening’s perfromance was from a great band, but also a great brand. After all, not all brands are sell-outs. I walked away from that gig with a sense of satisfaction that the White Stripes were in it for their fans, and true to the the music rather than the money.

You can imagine then that this satisfaction was somewhat quashed the next day when I heard that Jack White has agreed to write a song for a new coke ad … but that’s another story.

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