Ok. We’ve mentioned Jimmy Buffett and his “successfulness”, but what exactly do we mean?
First, let me preface by saying that I live in Mobile, Alabama (yes, by choice). I grew up in Southwest Louisiana (a/k/a God’s Country), but Mr. D and me have decided to live out our days a little bit up the Gulf Coast in Lower Alabama. I say this because although Jimmy Buffett was born in Pascagoula (20 miles up the road from Mobile), he was raised in Mobile. Matter of fact, Jimmy attended the same grade school and high school as Mini DD (GEAUX JACKETS!!). The 5 ft. 5 in. whirlwind was even a well-known male cheerleader at said Catholic high school.
Jimmy Buffett is a veritable legend all along the Gulf Coast, but particularly in South Alabama. It’s a cryin’ shame that he hasn’t played the Gulf Coast in about 10 years even though he is part owner with his sister, Lucy, of Lulu’s at the Homeport, down in Gulf Shores (a/k/a home of Taylor AI parties during AI Season 5). However, I think it’s mainly due to the fact that Biloxi or Pensacola or Mobile doesn’t have a venue large enough to make it worth his while or hold all the Parrotheads.
Anywho, let’s take a look at Mr. Buffett and the 30-year overnight success he’s had. Jimmy has been around a LONG time. He started out in the early ’70s and had one nice “hit” in Come Monday.
Gotta love those early video attempts. Now, Come Monday came out in 1974 and it’s evident by the video that Jimmy was very young, so Jimmy was making a vid back in 1974? Now, THAT, is vision. I mean, MTV came out in 1980…but, I digress.
Ok, so Jimmy has a slight hit with Come Monday and then a slight hit with Margaritaville. Interestingly, the highest Margaritaville reached on the Billboard charts was #8, yet it’s likely played dozens of times per day, each day. It’s an anthem for the way we’d like it to be…a getaway from the hassles of life where all we have to worry about is “where’s the salt”.
Now, Jimmy is one smart cookie. He discovered that Margaritaville struck a nerve with people. That it was a universal anthem that everyone could relate to. He saw the unfettered fun that people of all “stripes” had at concerts and how they could “go on vacation” at his concerts. So, Parrotheads were born. In an attempt to create a following like the Dead Heads of the Grateful Dead, where concerts are an event — a destination and party of their own, Buffett ended up with one of the largest and most active fan bases in music history. Buffett sells the lifestyle of Margaritaville….casual laissez faire, no worries, party it up, escape for a while…and PARTICIPATE:
Over the last 20 years, Jimmy Buffett has become a multi-millionaire not from selling his music, but rather, from his ancillary endeavors. To the tune of about $100 million a year. In addition to 9 Margaritaville Cafes in places like Orlando, Key West, New Orleans, Turks & Caicos and over 40 Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurants in non-competing markets up North, Jimmy recently unveiled plans to build a $700 million Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi, MS complete with casino. One hour away, baby!!!
Jimmy Buffett’s website, www.margaritaville.com, nicely integrates all of Jimmy’s business endeavors and prominently features one of Jimmy’s biggest money-makers — merchandise.
There’s adirondack chairs
ultimate “frozen concoction makers”,
footware, clothes, hats
….even his own beer (Land Shark Lager), liquor and food.
There’s Radio Margaritaville, highlighting Jimmy’s music and all things island, relaxation and supportive of “the getaway” life. Of course, the sight prominently provides tour dates and contests to win a trip to a Buffett concert, up to date news on Jimmy, his ventures, the tour, etc. through the Coconut Telegraph, and most importantly, a prominent Parrothead link — resplendid with “Parakeets”for the kiddies, Parrothead of the Week, picture uploads, and discussion boards. If that’s not enough, Jimmy self-produces all of his records under the MailBoat Records label and has written several best-selling books. Jimmy Buffett is truly the master of his own destiny. Notice that the “look” of all the various endeavors is consistent and easily identifiable with the “experience”/attitude of Margaritaville.
He has capitalized on his music and the desired lifestyle/attitude of a cross-section of Americans who have the money to spend and are looking for an “experience”. When asked how he created all that is Margaritaville, Jimmy gives one word: “Imagination”. Seems to me that Jimmy didn’t limit himself by the constraints or expectations of the music industry and by blatantly by-passing their “rules” and taking advantage of their ignoring him, he is having the last laugh and the lasting impact.
So, is Jimmy Buffett any less of a musical artist than others? Is his taking advantage of tie-in businesses being a “sell-out” or overly commercial? Is there an artist out there today who could do something like Jimmy has done? (I think you know my answers.)