Lessons from the music industry on how to create passion.

By Luke Sklar and Amber Hudson

There are few industries that evoke the same emotion, passion, desire as music.  Okay, maybe when the right time hits, you feel strong passion for haemorrhoid relief cream or condoms.  But music really hits that deep emotional chord.  Whether you love:

Ke$ha’s Tic Toc:

Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy
(Hey, what up girl?)
Put my glasses on, I’m out the door – I’m gonna hit this city
Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack
Cause when I leave for the night, I ain’t coming back


Loius Armstrong’s It’s a Wonderful World:

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Both of these songs spark true emotion, often in the same person (okay, fine, I’m the  only one.  But for the record I prefer to brush my teeth with Jose).  Few industries are as fragmented as the music industry.  Look back to the 60s when you had the girl groups like The Supremes, the California surf scene, the British invasion, soul and folk.   The 70s brought new types of rock (hard, soft, southern), punk, reggae and of course disco.  In the 80s we saw the rise of arena rock, heavy metal / hair metal, new wave and funk.  Enter the 90s:  grunge, hip hop, gangsta rap, R&B / contemporary R&B, boy bands, electronic / techno-house.  And the 2000s brought little innovation with emo, pop punk and nu metal (have we tapped out?!?!).

And I haven’t even mentioned country (there’s reason for that).

Unless I’ve missed something, I’m not seeing much in the way of new genres these days.  What’s happening is long established genres are fracturing into new subgenres.  And once a genre hits, it doesn’t really ever disappear.  It just changes.  Go to iTunes and search the genres, it’s exhausting.

Let’s take Metal as an example (they didn’t call me Metal Queen in high school for nothin’).  It has blown up into a gazillion pieces:  from the classic metal like Sabbath to alternative, glam, garage, death, industrial, Christian, sludge, speed, grindcore, rap metal, thrash, nu and the ever popular Viking metal.

Folks, the music industry is a metaphor for the fragmentation of markets.  In the early days you see lots of room for real innovation.  After a while it becomes so fragmented, consumers and their needs so diffuse, that marketers are scrapping the bottom of the barrel for new ways to meet their needs and connect emotionally.  And do you know what this means for you?  If you’re in a market that hasn’t fragmented, either it’s new, or you’re delusional.

Take a step back and have a close look, I mean a really close, uncomfortable dude-you’re-in-my-personal-space look at your consumers.  Understand their deep wants and desires better than anyone else.  Get under the surface to find that untapped need.  Careful though, you can niche yourself if you chase one tiny fragment. How can you still be focused and evoke passion? This takes deep understanding of your consumer to identify passions that hit a broad enough swath of consumer to grow your brand.

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