Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bob Dylan: Content Marketing King

Two people look at a tree. One sees raw material for rocking chairs. The second sees raw material for a poem.

Two people look at a copper mine. One sees jobs. The second sees potential environmental damage.

Two people look at the career of Bob Dylan. One sees a singer songwriter. Another sees lessons in content marketing.

From time to time I've reflected on the career of Bob Dylan from a marketing point of view. I myself have worked in marketing/advertising/PR for three decades and naturally see the world through a marketing lens.

Businesses all over the country have been developing social media strategies and online marketing strategies. They send staff to seminars and conferences. They study the latest trends. And when all is said and done, one of the most oft-repeated maxims of recent years has been the declaration, "Content Is King."

It's interesting how this whole new industry has sprung up teaching businesses how to create killer content marketing strategies. Speakers and groups churn out books, seminars, eNewsletters and generate income (for themselves), even a measure of fame. And what is the message they teach? What is the advice they give?

Content is king. And not just any content. What matters is...
Relevant Content.
Consistent Content.
Evergreen Content.
Original Content.

For more than a half century Bob Dylan's songs have been relevant. For the duration he has continued to produce enduring songs that speak massively, and original albums that connect. Oh Mercy (1989), Time Out Of Mind (1997), Modern Times. (2005), The Oscar-winning "Things Have Changed" will never go out of style. Nor will those early masterpieces, "Blowing in the Wind" and "Hard Rain" and "Visions of Johanna" and on and on.

Who is this man? An August 12 GQ article this week call him the greatest artist alive. "Dylan’s expanse of work is unparalleled in human history," writes Jaideep Varma.* "He changed the nature of his art form repeatedly and is still doing so." Of course this is not news to long-time Dylan fans.

Not only did he write hundreds of truly great songs, he continually re-invented the manner in which he performed them.

I should briefly explain the term Evergreen Content. The concept is best understood in contrast to temporary content that you see in a local newspaper. Today's weather forecast is relevant today. People want to know whether to bring an umbrella to the office today. A nickname for newspapers is "fishwrapper" because once it's read it's only other use is to wrap a trout you caught or, if you have birds, to line the cages.

Evergreen content is probably self-explanatory at this point. It is relevant today, tomorrow and well into the future. When I write about an art show opening it's pretty much like a news story. (eg. Yesterday's review of the Collusion show at Lizzard's.) My artist interviews, on the other hand, aim to produce insights that continue to speak to readers long after the event has passed.

This week I caught wind of The Bob Dylan Project which attempts to make available in one website all the various ways Dylan's songs have been recorded and performed. It's a pretty grand endeavor and if you're a fan you will want to check it out.

This isn't the first time I've commented on Dylan's career from a marketing point of view and it likely won't be the last, though one never knows.

Was Dylan good or just lucky? It's a sure thing that in many respects he made his own luck. He was resilient during changing market conditions in the music industry. We all know groups that produced hits in the Sixties whom you never heard of again. Market conditions changed and these groups faded into oblivion. For more than fifty years, no matter what was going on in the larger outside world, Dylan continued to produce new songs, original songs, relevant songs... evergreen songs.

Maybe we'll have to return to that another day. I get the feeling much more could be said.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. And sometimes even the president of the United States must have to stand naked.

*Why Bob Dylan is the greatest artist alive  

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