The Pop-Culture Brilliance of Regional Branding
Never underestimate the power of a community shout-out.
I write quite a bit about music here in the ‘Daly Grind’ newsletter, because it’s an interest and I have a lot of passion for. But just between you and me, I’m purely a listener and admirer of the art, not a participant. I don’t sing well, I don’t play any instruments, and I never even learned to read music.
I just know what I like, what I find unique, and what connects with me on a personal level.
Yet, I oddly feel qualified to offer a little bit of advice to young, up-and-coming musicians who are hungry for notoriety and want to make a good chunk of money in the music business.
Here it is: write a song named after a U.S. state (it doesn’t have to be a particularly good song), prominently mention that state in the first line of the chorus (it doesn’t have to be particularly catchy), record the song, and then do whatever you can to make sure it gets a lot of play in that state.
Why do I have confidence in this advice as a blueprint for success? It’s because I live in Colorado, where — over the past year — pop-radio stations haven’t stop playing a song called “Colorado” by a German band named Milky Chance.
As you can hear, it’s not very good… even by today’s standards (yes, I went there, Generation Z). It peaked in the charts nationally and internationally months ago, and the song’s not even about Colorado. It instead evokes my state as an easy metaphor for getting high (because pot is legal here):
I get high like Colorado
We had it all but what do I know?
I try to push away the sorrow
But today, it's too late, I try tomorrow
Yet, the song plays on and on locally, because apparently my fellow Coloradans can’t get enough of it. These Milky Chance dudes have pretty much become icons here, and the band has made Colorado one of its handful of U.S. stops on their upcoming summer tour (I’m guessing it will be the first time they’ve actually stepped foot in my state).
Now, I of course realize that musical tastes vary, and that I probably shouldn’t be so harsh (even with my critique being a bit tongue-in-cheek) on those who may genuinely (but mistakenly) think it’s a good song (which it isn’t).
But that’s kind of my point. It doesn’t have to be a good song. It’s the branding that mattered. These guys wrote a song called “Colorado”, kept saying the word “Colorado” at the top of the chorus, and Coloradans totally ate it up. I suspect a disproportiate number of downloads came from my state, which assuredly put a good amount of extra cash in the band’s pocket.
State pride is a very real thing, and these German fellows benefited from it.
So, I have a proposal — or perhaps a challenge — for any young musicians out there who may have been forwarded this newsletter by one of your parents (or perhaps grandparents)…
Write and record a pop song using the below template:
Make the title the name of a state, and place it prominently in the first line of the chorus. Again, it has to be a state. Not a country (too broad), not a city (too regionally narrow), not a province (sorry Canada, but I just don’t think it would have the same effect), and not a state that’s already overrepresented in U.S. culture (I’m looking at you, California, Texas, and New York). Uniqueness matters.
Get everyone you know to call radio stations in that state and request your song.
Once you become rich and famous, and some governor gives you a key to their state, make sure to send me a thank you card.
One more thing. I understand that such a song may be a bit difficult to write, since not many words rhyme with Nebraska or Wisconsin, but you know what? It’ll be worth the effort.
Is this the weirdest topic I’ve written about in the ‘Daly Grind’? Let me know in an email, or in the comment section below.
As you may know, my new novel Restitution takes place in Las Vegas and the Nevada desert. I recently wrote a #TalkingLocationWith piece for Trip Fiction about why I chose that region. It includes some personal experiences, and a couple exclusive excerpts (that the website unfortunately didn’t separate from my commentary very well). Enjoy!
Media bias in the year 2022
This Wednesday, I’ll be returning to the No BS Zone, the new video series I do with legendary national journalist, Bernie Goldberg. We’ll be talking about Bernie’s #1 New York Times bestselling book, “Bias”, and how media-bias has evolved over the last 20+ years since the book’s release.
It’s going to be a very informative and enlightening conversation, and it’ll be available to members of Bernie’s membership. If you’re not already a member, I can’t recommend signing up highly enough. You’ll get weekly columns, audio commentaries, Q&A sessions, and of course the No BS Zone… all at an incredibly reasonable price.
Saw this pic, and realized that I need a dedicated listening room.
Obligatory Dog Shot
When you’re working in the basement and suspect that you’re being judged.
Have you picked up your copy of RESTITUTION?
Interested in a signed copy? You can order one (or five) here.
Already read and enjoyed it? I’d love if you could leave a review for the book on Amazon.
“NOT MY TEMPO!”
I love the movie Whiplash, and there’s really two main reasons why:
I’m an enormous fan of the precept of cranky, strict-as-hell, old dudes throwing the fear of God into young whippersnappers (well done, J.K. Simmons).
The music is great.
The album includes lots of drum-heavy jazz pieces written for the film by Justin Hurwitz. It’s not typically the type of music I’m into, but it’s sort of infectious once you start listening.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!