Why are Iron Maiden more popular on Spotify than Madonna?

It surprised me when I read that, and I imagine it’ll surprise you too.

Not because Iron Maiden are bad…I’m a fan.

But because Madonna is…well…a pop singer. And, popular music should be the most popular…right?

She’s certainly more commercial, in a traditional sense. Plus, as much as I personally enjoy it, I’m aware that metal is an acquired taste – whereas Madonna’s music is aimed at appealing to everyone.

She also had the bonus of appearing on MTV and stations such as BBC Radio One, Iron Maiden never really had that exposure.

As a singer Madonna has always looked to adopt the latest trends – performing the hits that the crowds of the day would enjoy.

Whereas Iron Maiden found their target audience early on and found out how to please them. They never wrote a love song or anything like that. They just kept on doing the things that their fans like…building an army of life-long supporters, who would no doubt look to spread the love onto their children.

Meaning that they’d have another generation of fans, starting off a cycle that will eventually mean that the East London outfit’s music will last far longer than they will.

Not only that, but Iron Maiden’s songs tell stories about things that their target audience like. Fantasy, history, horror and even sci-fi.

trooper
(it’s really good, too!)

Plus look at their branding – they brew their own beer just the way their fans like it, they tour as much as they can and they have their own Boeing 747 jet that lead singer, Bruce Dickinson, personally flies.

How cool is that?

Plus they have their own logo. Same as bands such as Nirvana and Metallica. Does Madonna have a logo? If she does, I can’t recall it easily. Neither can I recall a logo for bands such as Take That.

It’s why, when you go into high street fashion stores, you see Metallica or Iron Maiden t-shirts for sale, you don’t see Madonna T-shirts.

Here’s a quote from Lady Gaga:

“Some people really don’t know the importance of metal and the scope of it. Those guys were filling stadiums, and they still are. And it’s because of the culture of the music, the poetry that’s so powerful, that whenever the fans come together, they unite in the essence of what Iron Maiden is all about. I always used to say to people, when they would say, ‘Oh, she’s the next Madonna.’ No, I’m the next Iron Maiden.”

gaga
(the next Iron Maiden)


by Ashley Brown.

Oh, by the way the initial inspo for this article came from Ryan Holliday’s fantastic ‘Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts’

 

 

Calvin Harris

The trouble with making music as a job is that I have no outside interests. All I can do to wind down is go to sleep.” – Calvin Harris

He makes a good point.

For many people who aren’t creatives in their day job, their creative discipline is usually just a hobby or a side-job.

Often they do it because it’s very therapeutic.

And it begs the question…how would you manage your down time if your hobby becomes your day job?

I guess for some of us that’s the dream…

A map for your feelings…

“I think that is what film and art and music do; they can work as a map of sorts for your feelings.”

– Bruce Springsteen

Apologies for the lack of a post yesterday – life, as it does, got in the way.

P.S. The album photo I included was one of my favourite ever albums as a kid. When I first got a CD walkman I fished it out of my dad’s CD collection and almost played it to death!

Hamburg, the Beatles and the sweet music of success…

As regular readers will know, I’m a big believer in the theory that it takes 10, 000 hours of practice to be good at something.

But, while practice makes perfect, there are other factors that can control success and give some of us an exceptional advantage over others in our field. While I don’t claim to be successful just yet, any talent I have when it comes to writing stems back to the hours of practice I put in as a youth.

My parents’ house was so far out of town I had little else to do on some evenings but write and be creative.

But, let’s use a more interesting case study…’The Beatles’. If you haven’t heard of them…then…where have you been? They defined popular music and elevated it to the dizziest contemporary heights imaginable.

Many people still wonder, even now, what it was that made them so good. I believe that part of it was due to some gigs they played in a German city…

An unlikely twist of fate took them to the city of Hamburg when they were very young…and it was that same twist of fate that helped give them something of an edge over the other bands and solo artists of the day.

beatles

Back in the day, as a small band of high school kids, The Beatles were lucky enough to get an invite to play in Germany. And, they took it – one of the reasons being that they had access to a lot of alcohol and sex over there. The other reason (more relevant to this post) is the access that it gave them to clubs who wanted them to play live music to big crowds.

When it came to gigging, the Hamburg clubs differed to the English ones in a key way. Back in Blighty the guys were asked to play a set for an hour, or maybe two if they were lucky.

But, in Hamburg, the club promoters wanted them to play all night – meaning that they’d often be going for 6-8 hours!

Imagine that…gigging for eight hours! I can only imagine the sweat.

Not only that, but as the guys’ popularity skyrocketed in Germany, the Hamburg clubs wanted them to play every night of the week. Some fifty-six hours of performing. In total, after several trips, they played for 270 nights in just over a year and a half.

This meant that the guys had to improve their stamina, their stage presence and, above all, they had to learn more songs.

They couldn’t get by with just playing their go-to ‘hits’ they had to learn loads of new songs and even different genres – such as a few jazz numbers. This gave them a discipline on stage that other bands at the time just didn’t learn – plus, it gave them plenty of time to practice until they made it perfect.

As John Lennon said; “in Liverpool we’d only ever done one-hour sessions, and we just used to do our best numbers, the same ones, at every one. In Hamburg, we had to play for eight hours, so we really had to find a new way of playing”.

So, as someone who wants to make it as a creative – you need to look out for your Hamburg. Something special that gives you an edge or an experience over the others. Whether it be using weird dreams you had as a kid to influence your art, or maybe booking a month off work and going to your grandparents’ quiet holiday house on the coast to write uninterrupted.

The research for this post mostly came from Malcolm Gladwell’s fantastic book ‘Outliers‘, I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in success and talent.

by Ashley Brown 2017