Sunday, September 7, 2008

Guns N' Roses: How to Sell it?

Linked below is a great post by Bob Lefsetz, music industry insider about how Axl Rose can make a few bucks off the new Guns N' Roses album.

An excerpt:

1. Name your own price

Dumb. Already done by Radiohead. Unsuccessful with Saul Williams. If you’re going to stunt, you’ve got to do something original, you’ve got to do it FIRST!

2. Newspaper cover mount

This is a good idea. De rigueur in the U.K., it hasn’t been tried in the U.S. I’d say this is a natural for Tribune. For the Sunday edition in all of their papers. Got to be ten to twenty million in it for the band.

3. Wal-Mart

What are the odds of "Chinese Democracy" passing the Bentonville censors? This is a natural fit. Blue collar denizens, those who shop at Wal-Mart, are hard rock’s core. But we live in a society where children must be protected and the truth must not be uttered. So, "Chinese Democracy" would end up a ten minute EP. Then again, would that be as laughable as Axl Rose’s appearance on the VMAs?

Wal-Mart will guarantee product one way. Significant tonnage. Because it gets people in the store where they buy other things.

As for screwing indie stores… If indie stores want to cobble together a twenty five million guaranteed offer, I say they should get an exclusive on "Chinese Democracy". But this is not a building band, it’s amazing this record is even coming out. The indie stores won’t cough up the dough and their whining can be ignored. This is business. One time event business. It’s not about keeping retailers happy, but making a ton of money for Axl Rose.

4. Other physical retailer

This is a good idea. The only question is whether they can pony up enough bucks. Target? The promotional value is astounding. The media will cover this like the second coming. For a week anyway. Before reporters move on to something new. So, to get all that name recognition and then the additional revenue from people buying other product in your store is worth it. At a price. Twenty five million dollars? That’s what it’s going to take. Axl’s got to get his bread back, this product needs to be shipped one way.

As for Best Buy… They’re never going to pony up. They expect exclusives for BUPKES, if anything at all!

5. Online retailer

Steve Jobs will never pay. It’s against his equitable/level playing field philosophy. But how about Amazon?

Amazon is the number one online retailer. If it finally wants to boost its music store, this is the opportunity. It’s kind of a Michael Cohl deal… How many copies does Amazon expect to sell, if it has a monopoly? Two and a half million? Then it’s worth twenty five million dollars. Even if all the albums are not sold. Because people will come to, interact with the site, and buy other stuff. Furthermore, Amazon can sell both physical and digital product. The company is a natural.

6. Advertiser giveaway

This is what G N’ R should do.

The biggest problem G N’ R has is releasing "Chinese Democracy" and finding out nobody cares. And believe me, very few do. Because years have passed and nobody gets that much attention today. Mariah Carey is plastered all over the media and can’t even go double platinum. Almost no one can. So how do you deliver this album so IT SEEMS like the second coming and the public buys it?

By giving it away.

Yup, one single advertiser. Either super-rich, like Coke, or looking to make its name, like Napster was when it bought those Super Bowl ads. They pay their twenty five million AND THEY GIVE "CHINESE DEMOCRACY" AWAY ON THEIR WEBSITE!

The publicity will be amazing. First, when the deal is announced. Then, when it happens. The return on investment will be better than any TV advertising. Assuming the corporation can pay the freight.

G N’ R needs a stunt. That generates incredible publicity, that puts its music in the hands of the most people, so the act’s image can be burnished and beaucoup bucks can be made on the road.

The silver lining is G N’ R CAN STILL sell CDs, can even sell on iTunes, if they give the album away. Look at Radiohead. Look at P2P. Everything’s free, yet people still buy. Free for a month only. Maybe just a week. With a live album of greatest hits thrown in two weeks later if you donate your e-mail address.

Universal just can’t deliver "Chinese Democracy" to the usual suspects and expect it to sell, not in any prodigious amount. Don’t worry about the indie retailers, don’t worry about Best Buy, don’t worry about iTunes. Go to the big kahunas, the ones who truly have the money/advertising budgets. They won’t bitch, they won’t say they’re cash poor, they’ve just got to decide whether to buy in. Or not. Look, Dr. Pepper is riding the "Chinese Democracy" bandwagon FOR FREE! You’ve got to charge for this privilege.

And don’t tell me about cred. Axl lost it years ago.

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