4i Newsletter Masthead 494

Stick or Twist.

Four i 494 StickorTwist

Perhaps my taste is eclectic, or maybe I’m easily persuaded, but either way the last two concerts I’ve seen live are Barry Manilow in Las Vegas and Robert Plant in Sicily. They couldn’t be more contrasting.

Manilow: Performance number 87 in a closed theatre in a soulless hotel, 3 “costume” changes, free glow sticks for every audience member, “helpful” karaoke style singalong lyrics on stage, elaborate set complete with aerial walkway to enable the audience to gaze upward in a worshipful manner, playlist was hit after hit after hit.

Plant: One off gig in an open, ancient, amphitheater, dressed down from his earlier appearance at the hotel bar, small band of four multi-talented musicians (I counted 15 different instruments played), minimal set – the Roman ruins needed no embellishment, no theatrics, indeed he interacted with the band as much as the audience, made a point of playing an interesting mix of new and old material but no Led Zeppelin classics.

Both have chosen an approach with risk and reward – as do many of us.

Barry gave the audience exactly what they came for – 90 minutes of cheesy songs and a show.
Plant made a point of saying that he couldn’t just repeat the same music, night after night, year after year, and “I am too old to care.”

Barry’s main risk is his model running out of steam (although to be fair, at 80, he doesn’t need it to last much longer).
Plant’s audience could have been really disappointed that much of the material they didn’t know well.
The Manilow approach is near guaranteed to generate a set response and return; Robert’s is much less certain.

But who enjoyed themselves more?
Which of them was doing it for the sheer love of performing?
Who could potentially last forever?

It got me thinking about whether it’s best to stick to a successful formula or better to regularly change it up.
I suppose the answer depends on the target audience.

Barry Manilow appeals to an aging demographic, and a narrow one at that.
Robert Plant won many younger hearts in Sicily, potentially extending his reach for many years to come.

Should you stick with your old standards, or has your market moved on and a new, albeit perhaps less certain, approach is the way to go?

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