Your band got back together and decided to have another go at it. It's been a while, but the chemistry is there, and you're juiced about some new music you're writing and rehearsing.
But your new music has not seen the light of day outside of a rehearsal studio, and you're not sure how well it would be received if you played it live alongside the many hits your fans would expect to hear. Bob Lefsetz describes the dilemma:
"[W]hen people go to the show today, they only want to hear the hits. They don't want to hear anything new. And when you do fire up your new compositions, they immediately go to the bathroom, got get a drink. New material is like the obligatory drum solo of yore, signal for a break.
"Therefore, every act that is not a flash in the pan is an oldies act. The customer, paying an overinflated price for a ducat, feels he DESERVES to hear the hits. That's why you charged him so much, right? ...
"You want to grow. But your audience won't let you. They don't want to hear anything new."
Lefsetz continues on in yesterday's post to offer what I consider a pretty good suggestion that could guide new music from any classic rock act, including Led Zeppelin, toward acceptance among fans -- so as to avoid the new-music/bathroom-break paradox.
The new album -- or even a disc or electronic download with only the songs you intend to play live -- comes complimentary with your advance concert ticket purchase. That way, fans can play it ahead of time and become acquainted with it and grow to love. It'll be something they actually want to hear because it fits in with the old stuff!
"If all the money is in touring, why are you trying to sell your music? Doesn't it make more sense to give it away, in the hope that people will have a better concert experience?
"... [I]f the $100 ticket came with the new material, the audience would be motivated to play the new stuff, in ANTICIPATION of the show. After a while, this will become the new behavior, people will know to listen to the free new music, because that's what the act is going to play!
"Even the Eagles. How many hits do they have? That's all people want to hear. But the band finally made a new album, they'd like to stretch out on stage. How do they keep the audience from being disinterested? By making sure each and every customer has the new music in ADVANCE!
"... If you're a touring act, you've got to stop thinking of your new music as a revenue source. Rather, it's an investment in your career, its vitality, its longevity. The key is to get it in as many hands as possible so your sphere of influence, your customer base, doesn't shrink, but GROWS!
"... As it is, you're announcing your tour almost a year before it happens, getting all that revenue up front, before anybody else does... If you give away the music with the ticket, the audience has a long time to become familiar with it! Hell, the dropping of the album and the on sale date happen simultaneously!"
So, what say you part-time Zep marketing strategists? Time has changed since 1980. Audiences, their demand, their expectations, have all changed. Could new Zep material be distributed as explained above? Would this do the trick? Could Led Zeppelin successfully adapt in the 21st century and help forge new behavior among its listening audience, the same way Led Zeppelin of yore revolutionized the 90-10 split?