Marketing Lessons From the Music Industry


Posted on October 10, 2017 by Aaron Johnson

What Brand Marketers Can Learn From Jack White

As a virtual marketing agency, the Social Link team lives and works all around this great country (and beyond)… but our home office is right here in Nashville, and as digital marketers we’re always inspired by the music business. Nobody connects with an audience like Nashville artists! Here’s some insights we’ve gained while following the rise of Jack White’s Third Man Records—a Nashville-based music label that lives up to its brand promise in astonishing ways.

#1: Grow From Your Roots

Long before he became a Grammy-winning musician, Jack White was a professional upholsterer. The brand identity for Third Man Upholstery combined a black-and-yellow color scheme with a punchy slogan (“Your Furniture’s Not Dead”). To build buzz, he and a colleague formed a band called “The Upholsterers” and placed vinyl records inside their furniture. To date, two copies (worth up to $900 on eBay) have been found.

Though White has long since traded in leather sofas for vinyl LPs, the roots of his original brand are still at the core of Third Man Records. His company makes everything it sells. The brand colors remain yellow and black. And the slogan has become a rallying cry for music fans: “Your Turntable Is Not Dead.”

The takeaway: Though companies must evolve to survive—even reinvent their business models—the best ones continue to express the values and attitudes that made them great.

#2: Whatever You Are, Own It

True to its motto, Third Man Records is dedicated to pushing the limits of what only vinyl can do: the world’s first liquid-filled album, scented records, discs cut with x-rays, and the first vinyl record ever played in space. And it doesn’t stop there. Third Man’s Nashville store has a recording booth where you can cut your own record. In 2017, the label even opened its own vinyl pressing plant.

The takeaway: Whatever you make, make it matter. Everything your brand does is better when it’s something only you could have done.

#3: Say It Loud and Mean It

Despite its dedication to physical media, the label’s talent roster is available on all streaming platforms—Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Tidal (in which White is an investor). Is this a brand disconnect? Absolutely not. Third Man promotes vinyl for the same reason that Apple promotes iPhones: it’s a way of reminding fans that what they create is more than a commodity. And that music, like technology, still has the power to inspire.

The takeaway: Wherever you go—and you should go everywhere—always remember what you mean to your biggest fans. Speaking of going anywhere…

#4: Be Occasionally Random

The music isn’t always distributed through normal channels. On April 1, 2012—not an April Fool’s prank, swear—Third Man Records launched 1,000 helium balloons carrying flexi-discs of Jack White’s single “Freedom at 21.” Only a handful have ever been recovered, and one of them fetched $4238.88 at eBay auction.

The takeaway: If you’re gonna aim, aim high.

Whether you’re in Nashville or on the other side of the world, Social Link has the in-house expertise and resources to translate your brand story into tangible results. Get in touch and let’s get started!


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