I love Bruce Springsteen. Seriously. I love him. You could almost put me in a jail cell with a bunch of other celeb stalkers, that how I feel about him. My insanity aside, something happened early on his “Magic” tour: I realized that my rock star hero was much more. He was the ultimate marketeer. And with the release of “Working on a Dream,” his latest album, he’s proving it all night again. Okay, that’s totally a Springsteen reference, but you get what I mean.
This is not an CD review—the CD is great. I blow brain cells every time I listen to it—this is a testimony to his marketing genius. Unfortunately, for old time rockers, marketing and rock-n-roll don’t mix. But they are having to get used to it as so many rockers are entering that 5th circle of hell the rest of us call “our careers.”
Springsteen just came off an 18-month tour with his “Magic” album. He ended this monster tour by going on the road endorsing Obama. Sunday he is doing the Superbowl, this past Tuesday he released “Working on a Dream,” and a few weeks ago he did a deal with Walmart to release his latest “Greatest Hits.” By the way, today he admitted that he regretted doing the Walmart deal because his fans called him out on it. Springsteen, in case you live under a rock, is branded as a working man’s hero, and Walmart, of course, has had too much bad press about workers’ rights. Springsteen came clean, though and said, “I screwed up.” Hello Wall Street, take a cue from an old rocker, will you?
Why is it so easy for a rocker to admit a mistake, yet it seems so hard for CEO’s to admit they have screwed up. With the hefty bad press about the hefty Wall Street bonuses, you’d think they could figure out a way to dig themselves out of this black publicity hell-hole. Springsteen, in the midst of all his good press, and good lord does he have press, decides to admit that he made a mistake. What does that get him? More good press. Wall Street, listen up: you need a good marketeer? Bruce is not available, however, call me! I have some suggestions, and a role model for us to follow.
My stalking tendencies toward Bruce aside, he does everything right as a business and as a marketeer. First off, he puts out a quality product that changes with the times. His songs are relevant and fresh. “Magic” was an indictment on the Bush administration, while “Working on a Dream,” reflects the hope going around these days. Then, he surrounds himself with a quality team. The E Street Band are a bunch of veteran musicians that play the three hour shows nearly flawlessly. Finally, Springsteen knows how to package and promote himself. “Dream’s” packaging is a beautiful lush design, and the promotion going on around it is massive. Borders is selling a lithograph if you buy the CD (same deal as with “Magic”). NPR played the album in full at midnight the day of the release, VHI is playing the bonus feature DVD this weekend, for God’s sakes, he is doing the Super Bowl on Sunday and you know he’ll play at least one song from the CD, and you cannot open up the Internet without seeing a story on him or from one of his band members.
Then to back it all up, he’s taking his show on the road for another massive American and European tour.
How much money does this guy wanna make? Oh, who cares, I’m just glad he’s doing it, and I’d like to see him get some credit for not only being a great artist, but a great marketeer. He’s living proof (also the name of a Springsteen song) that art and marketing can work, and more so, that as we age, we can get more creative.