Social Media Epiphany at a Neal Morse concert

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The other night I went to a concert in Chicago, with multi-instrumentalist Neal Morse and his extraordinary percussionist Mike Portnoy. Between Neal’s band and two guest bands, it was five hours of Progressive Rock musical bliss.

I noticed something strange and interesting during the concert:

Scarcely ANYONE was sitting there scrolling through Facebook on their smart phone, or even using their smart phone much at all.

Sure, people used phones on breaks. But it was utterly, completely different from what you’d see at, say, a Justin Bieber concert, where tween girls would have their phones out all the time.

Why is that?

Because a Neal Morse concert is one of those odd places where the line at the Men’s room is 5X longer than the ladies’ room. Prog rock is a male sport and 80% of the people who dig Neal are men.

Neal’s fans are men age 35-60.

And on top of that, Neal’s music is “Head Music.” Neal’s lyrics are more heartfelt than most in his genre, but Progressive Rock is still a head trip.

Weird chords, non-stop time signature changes, polyrhythms, complex arrangements. You might get elements of jazz, blues, heavy metal, Broadway show tunes and flamenco, stir-fried together in one 15-minute epic.

Rock for insatiable, stimulation-hungry brains. It’s the musical equivalent of a giant Excel spreadsheet with 1000 columns and 16 tabs.

(It’s darn impressive that anybody can play it for 2+ hours. Especially from memory. It’s more complex than most classical or jazz.)

Well guess what:

Head Trips + Middle-Aged Men = NOT Facebook. This is just not the kind of crowd who wants to sit there and “like” and “share” and “emote.”

But make no mistake, they’re hungry wolves. The first band started at 7pm and Neal’s band didn’t finish their encore till 12:45am. Most stuck around for the whole shebang.

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Now… if you thought I was going to say Facebook is not useful for Neal Morse, you’d be wrong. Because almost all those fans ARE on Facebook and most of them use it every day. They just don’t obsess over it.

Free Status Updates in the Facebook News Feed will not get anywhere near the results that are possible from other media. Mike Portnoy has 680,000 Facebook fans and I bet you less than 100,000 actually see his status updates. Only 10-20% of your fans see them.

If Neal was asking me for advice, I’d tell him he should be super aggressive about building his EMAIL LIST through Facebook ads. He should be targeting fans of Dream Theater and every band Mike Portnoy’s ever been in. And YES and Emerson Lake & Palmer and King Crimson and Porcupine Tree and probably Rush and Metallica.

And yes, he should get Facebook likes, and he should absolutely *advertise* to fans of his page 24/7 before every album release and tour. (That’s critical. Otherwise most won’t even know he’s on the road.)

I have *many* customers who sell various kinds of music and entertainment who are doing very well with Facebook ads.

But most important of all is, he should give away free music and other goodies in exchange for email addresses, and aggressively build his EMAIL LIST.

Middle-aged men are email-driven. The guy who wins this game is the guy with the biggest email list with the most interesting stories and updates. That’s the guy who’s gonna have sold-out shows.

Bonus video for today (scroll up): Neal Morse’s band playing his prog masterpiece “Author of Confusion” – with drummer Collin Leijenaar sitting in for Mike Portnoy. Enjoy!

Perry Marshall








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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

3 Comments on “Social Media Epiphany at a Neal Morse concert”

  1. I was at the Denver show. It too was amazing – although Neal Morse was the only band.

    On subject of social media. I found out about the show through a facebook ad. I clicked, got excited and then purchased the tickets within 5 minutes of seeing the ad. It seems that the fb ads are very well targeted to many of my interests.

  2. Okay, I pretty much already hang on your every word when it comes to marketing, business, and a number of other things.

    But when I get that combined with some of the greatest musicians ever (this, the Rush series, etc.), well that’s just friggin’ awesome!

    Thanks as always, Perry.


    P.S. Next live event I come to, I’m going to see how much it would take to bribe you to share some of your playlists with me since we have so many different bands and musicians we like in common…

  3. Nice post Perry… wanted to go see Neal and company in NYC last week but didn’t pull the trigger. After reading your post I wish I went! Saw them in 2005 (2006?) as part of the Testimony tour…that was quite an experience.

    And some interesting comments on e-mail, social media, and how it relates to Neal’s demographic. I think your insights there are fairly dead-on…. To Neal’s credit, one thing he does well from a marketing angle (though not sure if he’s doing it for any reason other than that he’s a down-to-earth guy, a real people person) is that he does get personal with his fans. I don’t disagree that his audience reach can go much farther, but he is no stranger to authenticity, transparency, and “mixing it up” with those he’s engaging with online…and even offline for that matter, with things like the “Inner Circle” membership club he has. That’s smart marketing, whether it’s his primary goal or not.

    – Dave P

    “Fellow Neal Morse, Rush, and Dream Theater fan!” :)

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