Well, yesterday I was feelin’ Jimmy. Then, Amy posted some good stuff about how Kenny is the new Jimmy. I particularly relate to Old Blue Chair:
Now, I know somebody who knows Kenny Chesney and I hear that he is but a wisp of a fella, however he is just as Lefsetz describes — down to earth and “one of us”. Now, I have extolled how Country is the new Pop and how the genres really have changed over the years, but Lefsetz gets to the heart of the matter much more succinctly than I can.
One of the finer points that he makes that resonates with me is this:
“The rock stars tell you to keep your distance. The rappers want to say how much better they’ve got it than you, with their women and their wheels. The country acts want you to know they’re just like you. That you’re part of their family. But for a quirk of fate, a bit of talent and some extremely hard work, your roles could be reversed. Kenny Chesney doesn’t have a security guard. He cruises Vegas with his assistant. He doesn’t take an entourage to awards shows. Because his audience respects him, gives him the distance he needs, because they believe they own him.
You don’t own the audience, the audience owns you. Too many stars seem to be playing to “” and the rest of the celebrity industry. They get caught up in their fame. They play the roles of celebrities. Whereas country acts are quick to reinforce they’re regular folk, accessible, that they’re there for you and you only.
There’s nothing on tape, just a ten piece band. At times four guitars. A full horn section. The hi-def screens above the stage and hanging from the speakers on the side insure that even those in the cheap seats can see what’s going on onstage. You feel included. In a club you paid your dues to over and over again. You listened on the radio, you bought the albums, why shouldn’t you be respected, you’re the engine driving the enterprise!”
Damn right. I’ve been struggling about how much my opinion on various matters should matter concerning artists that I enjoy. I think Lefsetz hits the proverbial nail on the head in that we should have somewhat of a say as we, as fans, do “own” the artist. And, the artists that are the most successful at packing them into huge stadiums and shows are those, like Kenny and Jimmy, who actually LIKE their fans. They like to be with them, near them, understand them, relate to them.
After all, these guys weren’t born to success. They worked hard for it toiling in dives and bars so that we would spend our hard earned cash to come and see them and support their acts. Then, they relied on us to support them by buying their “records” and paying to see their concerts, maybe even buying a T-shirt that we won’t throw out for 12 years or paying to join some stupid fan club that sends you useless trinkets for the priviledge of better than average concert seats.
Again, it’s all about the kun-NECK-shun. People want to be a part of something. A family. A group. The in-crowd. The rebel crowd. The winning team. There is a basic need that seems particularly true of music lovers, to be a part of all. That’s why word of mouth marketing works so well among “music heads”. We want to know what others in our “group” enjoys and we try it based on the fact that one or more members likes a particular song or artist.
Today, I’m feelin’ Kenny, so NOW HEAR THIS:
Taking the part of Teen Angel sucks. It is beneath your talent and potential. Take a page out of the Kenny and Jimmy playbooks. Get out there with the fans who really dig your music. Listen to what they have to say. Buy them a beer. Hell, buy me a beer.
Sing THEM a song; something that makes THEM feel good. But, realize that you don’t own the audience. Rather, they own you…they bought what you were selling in 2006. NOT AI, but Under The Radar, Workplay and all the Florabama Mp3s. And, you owe them. Everything.
You owe them more than singing Beauty School Drop Out for five minutes each night this summer. That is lazy. Give them On & On. Give them The Right Place. Give them a song recorded at the Ray Charles studio or FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals. Give them a CD recorded on the Stax label. Give them a “Live from Sun Studios” performance. Give them something of substance from a guy who is supposed to be of substance. You worked hard to establish some credibility with those fans who “bought” you…news flash…you have to work TWICE as hard to keep us, your fans. Kenny and Jimmy get it. You know what? So do Steely Dan, Bon Jovi and Radiohead. C’mon, Taylor, make us proud.
For the record, my favorite Kenny Chesney tune is a toss up between:
No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem
When the Sun Goes Down
or maybe, it’s this one….
How Forever Feels