Legs of the Stool: Music Monopoly

I came across this while doing research for the music project I talked about before.

Top Band Sites According to Alexa

1. Emusic.com

2. Iron Maiden

3. Nightwish

4. Backstreets.com (Bruce Springsteen)

5. Linkin Park

Alexa is no gospel, but from any context, the rankings are shocking. Iron Maiden shouldn’t be anywhere on that list. They haven’t had a platinum album in the United States in over 19 years. You never hear them on the radio and outside their core audience, most people think they’re a joke. Nightwish? Using conventional logic, their position is almost unexplainable.

So how is Iron Maiden on the list? How do they have a 7,000 Alexa Rank when Eminem and Fergie are at 75,000 and 20,000 respectively? For one, there is clearly a large demographic that is not being served by traditional radio and pop-culture. And when the distribution walls no longer exist–as they don’t online–the habits and tastes of consumers radically change. What Hollywood and mass-media does is create a round hole that makes it impossible for square pegs to go through. Then as gatekeepers, they can shape and control what constitutes a successful artist. All of that is artificial and relies on what Godin calls the 3 legged stool of the FCC, strict copyrighting, and limited retail outlets. The internet gets rid of all three–a massive power vacuum…

And mostly, I think it has a lot to do with this:

“There is an unspoken contract between the band and the audience. If you’re David Bowie and your fans want you to change every album then thats his style. With Maiden, that’s not our style, fans like us to play something thats identifiable; they want to see nuances of change but they’re happy with Maiden. Maiden’s music appeals to a certain person and in every generation theres a certain amount of those people born, thats why Maidens appeal is finite in terms of the number of records we sell in the short term.”

Bruce Dickinson

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.