I found a curious article in the New York Times on 9/7/2010: Die-Hard Fans Follow Iron Maiden Into the Digital Age. I wasn’t a “metalhead” in the 1980’s, but everyone knew about Iron Maiden back then. Well, decades passed and I hadn’t given the band much thought. I didn’t even know if they were still around. Well they are, having just released their 15th album and continuing a “relentless touring schedule.”
Even back in the 80’s, Iron Maiden’s music (often long and not packaged for radio, the dominant marketing tool of the time) and success relied on its relationship with its fans and word-of-mouth network among those fans.
What happens when this metalhead network bumps into the digital age? Iron Maiden’s manager, Rod Smallwood, referred to in the NYT article, was quoted as saying, “Iron Maiden is no analog-era anachronism. The lack of radio airplay and a reliance on word of mouth prepared the band well for the nuances of digital marketing.
Smallwood goes on to say, “When the Internet came in, we were probably one of the first to understand the potential.”
Indeed, before the release of the album, Iron Maiden revamped its Web site, created a Facebook page and offered a free digital single, “El Dorado,” for fans to download. There is even a free “Final Frontier” video game.
Joel McIver, author of a book about metal culture, listed the lessons that the music industry could learn from Iron Maiden:
Invest in the long term. Apply an image. Give the fans what they want. Tour and keep touring. Play the festival circuit. Embrace new technology. Be innovative. Be honest. Be original. Write good songs.
It is like Seth Godin is on their marketing team or something.