How musicians stay relevant in the digital age

The digital age certainly provides challenges for music acts to keep themselves relevant and keep their earnings up, but they are not short of options.

Hollywood

The last 12 months or so has seen a sate of music-related movies, with Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman bringing not only the music of Queen and Elton John to new audiences, but their stories too. 

Biographies are not the only way to go, though, with the Beatles getting some spotlight in Yesterday and George Michael providing the audio backdrop for Last Christmas. AC/DC also got in on the act a decade ago by providing the official soundtrack to Marvel’s Iron Man, which stuck with the character all the way through to the end of the now iconic Infinity War saga.

As for the effectiveness of such deals. well I have two teenage daughters who came out of Last Christmas asking about George Michael, so I’d say pretty good. 

Jukebox Musicals

Speaking of my teenage daughters, ask them about Queen and they will tell you all about We Will Rock you. Ask them about ABBA and they’ll recite the plot to Mamma Mia. Cindi Lauper is known to them as the composer for Kinky Boots, not a 1980s icon.

Then there are other Jukebox Musicals, such as Mowtown, Jersey Boys, American Idiot, and The Band. One of the first shows I ever saw was Buddy, and I bought a Buddy Holly greatest hits CD the following day. 

Original musicals such as Hamilton and Les Miserables still rule the roost, but Jukebox Musicals certainly bring old acts to fresh ears.

Rockin’ Rollercoasters 

I went to Disney in Orlando for the first time last year and my favourite ride by far was the Rockin’ Rollercoaster, featuring Aerosmith. It was the first I had heard of Aerosmith for a good few years, but their music blasting out of speakers in the headrest as we hurtled around in the dark was absolutely brilliant. 

Universal Studios went a step further with the Rip, Ride, Rocket coaster, which gives you the chance to select your own soundtrack before you strap yourself in. 

Many other acts have associated their name with theme park attractions far and wide, such as Led Zeppelin, who once attached their brand to the rollercoaster in Vietnam now called Dragon’s Run. 

It’s not as popular as it should, or could be, though. The biggest pitfall is that it’s too easy for the artist to end up elevating an otherwise naff ride and end up being having their name damaged by the association rather than enhanced.

However, when it is done well, there are very few cooler things an artist can partner up with.  

Reality TV

Generally speaking, if you want to introduce yourself, and your former glories, to younger audiences in the 21st century, then reality TV is a great way to get their attention. 

Ossie Osbourne unquestionably did it with the most success, but plenty others have benefitted from reality TV exposure, such as Gene Simmons (Rock School), Steve Tyler (American Idol), Vince Neil (Remaking Vince Neil), and Tommy Lee (Tommy Lee Goes to College), to name just a few. 

Or…

Just keep churning out music without the overheads by raising capital from KickStarter campaigns where your fans keep paying your bills for you. 

They’ll always have their back catalogue to fall on, as well as their online slot royalties from Danger High Voltage and others. 

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