Publicity Lessons To Learn From Guns N’ Roses
Guns N’ Roses – a hard rock group that first formed in 1985 – was one of the most successful bands of 2017, in any genre. It might not be your kind of music, and you may not personally have come across anything to do with GNR last year, but that’s really an astounding fact. It’s not abnormal to see aging musicians make comebacks, or else simply linger into their respective twilights. But to see a group like this make such a thunderous return to the spotlight is rare and extraordinary.
Some of this is due to the fact that this is simply one of the more successful bands of all time. Front man Axl Rose was once named the greatest vocalist of all time, and songs like “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Welcome To The Jungle” have transcended genre and preference to become hits that most everyone recognises. Guns N’ Roses has enjoyed nearly unrivalled success over the years, and that certainly set them up well for an easy, effective comeback.
Still, the band was fairly creative about its return to mainstream culture as well, and that should inspire musicians who are looking for new ways to gain publicity or generate attention. These are some of the lessons to be learned.
Tease Your Fan Base
Guns N’ Roses first started making noise about a comeback by way of a small and fairly insubstantial tease. In this specific case, they were able to get a vague announcement trailer playing on movie screens across the U.S. (and before screenings of a Star Wars film no less). Most musicians don’t have the clout or financing to get something like that done, but the move does speak to the power of a trailer or teaser of some kind for upcoming material. Independent performers can take this to heart in all kinds of ways. You can tease material via social media, put up flyers, etc. But a little promise of material to come makes that material more exciting.
Mix With Other Media
Another move Guns N’ Roses made, right around when their film trailer was making waves, was to partner with a software developer to produce an online game. Somewhat amusingly, the description for this game notes that in 2015 the band made an artificial comeback by designing this game, and goes on to express wishes that the band would make a real comeback. As it turns out, the game may just have been another way to get on people’s radar ahead of said real comeback. This is a nice lesson for independent musicians as well. Any opportunity to mix your material with other media to gain exposure is something to take advantage of.
Guns N’ Roses officially launched its comeback at Coachella in 2016. Following the show, The Daily Beast wrote an article titled How The Might Have Fallen, suggesting the band’s performance had dropped off disastrously and that festivals were desperate to tap into nostalgia. Nearly two years later, however, we can say that the performance was an unequivocal success simply because of the attention it generated. Again, GNR has an advantage over just about any musician or band on the planet in this regard, but it’s still a good reminder that playing a festival can get you exposure that a private show just doesn’t always generate.