As you probably know, my book Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics
was released in May 2013. I spent five years studying Lady Gaga’s strategies for building a fanatical customer/fan base that will sustain her business for years to come. I was not able to interview her directly while I was writing as she was on the international leg of her Born This Way
tour which lasted an entire year.
After her July 12th Chicago artRave concert for her current album ARTPOP, though, I was finally able to meet Gaga in person. I was part of a group of 20 people of that got a backstage meet and greet with her. After the concert, she sat with our group and answered questions for over 30 minutes. Some of the Little Monsters (her name for her loyal fans) asked questions about her next album. (It’s a jazz album collaboration with Tony Bennett
that comes out in September.) Someone asked who her idol was and she answered “Michael Jackson.” She then serenaded us with an a capella version of an unreleased song she wrote about Michael called “Sire.” The moment was beautiful and quite frankly, surreal.
More importantly, I want to share with you the advice she gave our group. She talked about how she has been treated by the media since the release of ARTPOP. It has not had the blockbuster sales success of her first two albums. Many critics thought it was not her best work. Snarky articles referred to the album as “ARTFLOP
,” even as it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
However, she is undeterred. She said she does not write music for critics. Her songs don’t have to hit #1 every time for her to consider them successful. She looks at her music as art and hopes it will make a mark in the world. She wants to create music and art that will move and inspire her fans. She said she is looking at the legacy of what she can create. Some things will be hits and some things won’t but she is focused on the long term. She does not spend time worrying about people who don’t like her or her music.
She told our group: “Keep unleashing your creativity on the world. Some things will appeal and some won’t. Stay true to your passion and don’t give up. It will be the legacy of your work that you will be able to look back on.”
I think as marketers and businesspeople, this is extremely important. We need to fight for our ideas and work like mad to make them happen. This can be difficult, especially in large corporations. I know this first hand. I worked for IBM for 11 years in the late ’80s and ’90s. I irritated the shit out of my managers, constantly proposing new and creative ideas to solve our legacy marketing issues. I was frustrated by not being able to execute on all of the ideas, but the ones we did act on were amazing.
I share Lady Gaga’s advice with you, hoping to inspire you as much as she has inspired me. You know that project that you get really excited about but then self-doubt sets in and you don’t follow through? Believe in your passion for it and take small steps to begin. What about that amazing idea you had in the shower this morning? Make it happen!
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