In this episode Don and Rob talk about album artwork, production, and the creative marketing of music.
Rob Broadfoot 0:20
Episode 47. We’re back, Rob.
Don Mock 0:22
I know, it’s exciting.
Rob Broadfoot 0:24
It’s rockin, is what it is.
Don Mock 0:26
47 is rockin. What are we gonna do for number 50? Isn’t that’s like an anniversary thing like 50!
Rob Broadfoot 0:32
Well, it’s gonna be my birthday podcast.
Don Mock 0:34
Okay, your birthday podcast. We’ll do it on your birthday. You’ll have to phone in from wherever you are. Unless you’re working on your birthday. I don’t even know.
Rob Broadfoot 0:42
I don’t even know what day it is.
Don Mock 0:43
I don’t know.
Rob Broadfoot 0:44
Well, you try not to think about
Don Mock 0:45
I know, I feel the same way. Alright, Episode 47. On a previous podcast, we talked about things that get us going creatively, and how music is such a driving force in the studio here and just in everyone’s lives. Outside of advertising of design and whatnot. Music is awesome. And we all love music. The interesting idea we came up with for today was the idea of marketing music. Everything related to music- bands, singers, whatever the case may be, album covers. That sort of interesting topic of music and marketing, and how do those things go together?
Rob Broadfoot 1:28
Yeah. I mean, it covers a lot, right? We could talk about design as it relates to music, we can talk about all kinds of things, strategy, marketing strategies. How do you distribute music? and all of that kind of thing.
Don Mock 1:39
Well, and it’s changed a lot over the years, obviously.
Rob Broadfoot 1:42
No, it hasn’t. It’s been the same since the dawn of time.
Don Mock 1:46
Yeah, the musicians make the least amount of money and everybody else makes the most.
Rob Broadfoot 1:49
Yeah, that’s right. I’m gonna launch right into it.
Don Mock 1:52
Yeah, go for it.
Rob Broadfoot 1:55
When I think about marketing music for me, personally, I think the thing that first, I guess affected me from a marketing standpoint that I really latched on to wa Metallica.
Don Mock 2:08
Rob Broadfoot 2:09
I say that because when I was in middle school in high school, it was in the band’s hayday.
Don Mock 2:14
Well, I’m gonna interrupt you and say that the Metallica today is different than the Metallica that you’re about to tell a story about. So we need some date ranges on here.
Yeah, this is back in the mid 80s. Right. ’83, ’84, ’85.
This is the good Metallica not the grandfather one.
Rob Broadfoot 2:31
Really for me the marketing was about the merch.
Don Mock 2:35
Oh, yeah. Totally.
Rob Broadfoot 2:36
It was all about the merch. You started to see this rise of thrash metal and sort of San Francisco metal kind of coming into the mainstream. And it started this cool trend I thought. So you had Metallica and you had all the creatures right? On all their shirts and all their merch. Y
Don Mock 2:54
Do you remember the name of the artists that did a lot of that artwork?
Rob Broadfoot 2:57
Don Mock 2:58
Rob Broadfoot 2:59
Don Mock 3:00
Yeah, yep. Pus- just like Derek Riggs is the Iron Maiden famous artist. Pus Head back in the ’80s was the Metallica guy.
Rob Broadfoot 3:08
Yeah. And much to my mother’s chagrin at the time, but my collection of Metallica shows… just the most outlandish stuff on them. To me it was so cool.
Don Mock 3:19
Well, it was skull heavy.
Rob Broadfoot 3:20
It was skull heavy and it was just marketing. To me it was the perfect visual representation of the music. It aligned so well. Everything that they were doing, that that really resonated with me,
Don Mock 3:34
I would say for the ’80s, too… this is a definitely a biased opinion. So take that for what it’s worth. But I would say one of the most successful bands to never have any radio play. Now we think of Metallica and they were on MTV, that Black Album they had. But pre-Black Album. They sold 10s of millions of albums worldwide, toured all the time, nary a lick of play on any radio station anywhere in the world. Right? Then they chill out. They do the Black Album in the early 90s. They’re on MTV all the time. And now they’re on the radio constantly right? But before that pre-era of Metallica, incredibly successful. Just word of mouth and almost like tape swapping. Remember, you used to make tapes and trading tapes with your friends and stuff.
Rob Broadfoot 4:20
Oh yeah, I think because everything is cyclical. You had back then. They were touring machines.
Don Mock 4:27
Rob Broadfoot 4:27
They would just tour I mean, I don’t know-
Don Mock 4:29
300 days a year.
Rob Broadfoot 4:30
300 days a year, 300 nights a year, easy. That’s where they made all their money and built their following is tour, tour, tour, merch, merch, merch.
Don Mock 4:36
Rob Broadfoot 4:37
Well, that’s kind of come back around now.
Don Mock 4:38
Yeah, I know.
Rob Broadfoot 4:39
Because of the way distribution and Spotify and the rise of digital music and how little artists get paid… Now they’re back to relying on touring and merch to make the money.
Don Mock 4:48
Yeah, well, we sound like old folks here. But a concert concert ticket was 15 bucks and a T shirt was… was a t shirt even 20 bucks?
Rob Broadfoot 4:56
Don Mock 4:56
It was like 15 bucks.
Rob Broadfoot 4:58
Maybe 20, 25.
Don Mock 4:59
Have you bought a concert T ee now?
Rob Broadfoot 5:02
Don Mock 5:02
They’re like 50 bucks.
Rob Broadfoot 5:02
The last one I bought was when you and I I think we at Iron Maiden. It was like 50. Easy, right? Maybe 60. It was a lot.
Don Mock 5:11
I mean, it’s a crappy, not even a soft shirt. It’s like the hardest, horrible printed…
Rob Broadfoot 5:18
Yeah scratchy, chafes the nips.
Don Mock 5:22
I mean concert tickets… you know the Ticketmaster, Taylor Swift debacle. I mean, just tickets in general.
Rob Broadfoot 5:28
I mean, I bought the tickets.
Don Mock 5:29
I know you did. The tickets are absolutely the only way artists I think are making money now is live performances, the tickets and the merch. I don’t know that spins on the radio is making them anything.
Rob Broadfoot 5:40
No. I mean, what they get paid off of Spotify is .000 whatever percent but I did see recently, speaking of ticket sales, the Cure is going back on tour.
Don Mock 5:51
Yes, I did hear this.
Rob Broadfoot 5:52
And Robert Smith somehow convinced Ticketmaster to like give a refund-
Don Mock 5:57
Back off on the fees.
Rob Broadfoot 5:58
Yeah, everybody got like a $10 refund on fees, which is, well, we couldn’t do it. No, leave it to Robert Smith from the Cure to get it done.
Don Mock 6:06
Rob Broadfoot 6:07
So that’s, I guess, a step in the right direction.
Don Mock 6:09
Well, you said everything’s cyclical. We’re going back to the future, right? I mean, like Duran Duran is coming out on a gong concert, on tour again. I think Depeche Mode is there. It’s like this crazy ’80s heyday of things are coming back around again.
Rob Broadfoot 6:23
I would go see the Cure in a second. I would go see all three of those bands actually.
Don Mock 6:26
Yeah, me too.
Rob Broadfoot 6:26
I saw Duran Duran at Chastain a few years ago.
Don Mock 6:28
How old are those guys now?
Rob Broadfoot 6:29
Duran Duran, all those guys?
Don Mock 6:31
I mean they’re not in their 70s yet, are they?
Rob Broadfoot 6:32
No, I don’t think they’re in their 70s. But they gotta be mid 60s. Yeah, late, late 50s. Maybe? Yeah, yeah. But also I want to mention, because we mentioned the horribly printed Iron Maiden shirts. That’s another band that has marketed themselves amazingly well. To the point where Eddie is the central figure of their entire catalog.
Don Mock 6:55
Just did a podcast on mascots. And there’s the mascot.
Rob Broadfoot 6:58
I mean, they’re bringing out the oversized Eddie on the stage in sword fighting and fires. And it’s the most- oh man if you’ve never been to an Iron Maiden show. Do yourself a favor. You don’t have to love the music. Just go for the spectacle.
Don Mock 7:13
It’s a theatrical performance. Inn the Book of Souls tour, I remember, he reaches in and pulls out the beating heart.
Rob Broadfoot 7:19
Don Mock 7:19
It’s lit up on. I mean, it’s incredible. Yeah, absolutely. The theatrical production alone. I think we both took our daughters. We’re like What the F is going on right here? Just because it’s a visual spectacle, at least. Well, let me jump in here, too. When I think about bands in general and music, sort of marketing music, I think about it from a design perspective, as you mentioned. We could talk about it from a design perspective. One thing I noted is that it’s interesting how, in our day, we used to go. I went Tower Records, Rainbow records, whatever. You go and you flip through everything. The album cover needs to sell the band, right. And it’s what made Led Zeppelin so interesting. And that I don’t even know what I’m looking at here. This is totally contextually non-relevant to the music whatsoever. But I think music has transitioned over the years to well, the album cover does start to fall in line with the genre of music. I think about the Blue Notes, jazz albums, that library of jazz. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking about any specific jazz musician, they all kind of have that same look and feel. They all marched in that same sort of album front cover design, which I thought was actually pretty cool.
Rob Broadfoot 7:19
Yeah, it was a good look..
Don Mock 7:55
Yeah. And so you know, Blue Note has definitely a cool look and feel for their library, their catalogue of music, their musicians. So jazz has its own kind of look. You had mentioned metal. I mean, metal definitely has its own genre of look. It’s it’s like, hey, this is what you’re about to listen to. I think that that’s kind of interesting, how music has sort of self-profiled itself. I think even hip hop and rap. It has kind of its own interesting look and feel for new artists. That sort of genre-based music. Country, I have no idea. I don’t know a lot about country so I’ll Just throw that out there. It seems like it’s a lot of photography of the artists.
Rob Broadfoot 9:23
I think so as a generalization. I don’t really know either.
Don Mock 9:27
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I know old like Johnny Cash country.
Rob Broadfoot 9:30
But even in Americana, which, I guess is kind of country. It’s more just sort of American folk kind of genre. Yeah. It’s very much about the image of the artist oftentimes.
Don Mock 9:42
Yeah, yeah, I think but like, metal for example. It’s like, oh, no one cares, whatever. They’re on the back of the album or they’re on the inside.
Rob Broadfoot 9:49
The best thing about metal was again, I’m gonna go back to Metallica because I think, when they came out with that funky typeface logo that they have. From that, started a trend. Yeah, it’s an interesting design trend. It was How lillegible can we make our logo?
Don Mock 10:05
Rob Broadfoot 10:05
You had like Metallica then you had like Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death doing weird stuff. And then it went to just like, I don’t even know what I’m looking at. I’m looking at like a bug splat.
Don Mock 10:15
It looks like chicken scratch, you know?
Rob Broadfoot 10:17
Don Mock 10:17
But that directly correlates to how terrible that part of metal is. I mean, there’s that (animal like grunt) . No one can listen to that.
Rob Broadfoot 10:25
It’s like guttural screaming.
Don Mock 10:27
Yeah, it’s just six minutes of double bass and horrible, horrible screaming with voice effects. It’s funny you I mean, you mentioned Iron Maiden earlier. Definitely one of my favorite bands ever. I would argue that as aggressive have a look and feel that they have does not correlate to their music. Their music is very operatic and almost corny and cheesy, right?
Rob Broadfoot 10:51
Oh, yes. Right I mean, it’s it’s over the top.
Don Mock 10:53
Yeah, it’s way less like distortion and metal and Metallica. If you look at an Iron Maiden album cover up like oh my god these guys-
Rob Broadfoot 11:02
I’m about to get hit over the head with a sledgehammer.
Don Mock 11:04
It’s very like whoa, crazy horrible, like nice and terrible, like operatic music. Talking about Winslow Home poems and crazy stuff right? Yet their their look and feel is so aggressive. Devils and things. It’s so funny. I actually secretly love that, that they don’t look like what they sound like. Which is interesting.
Rob Broadfoot 11:29
I think, too, going back to just album covers. It is, I don’t want to say lost art. But if you go back and look at the ’60s in the ’70s. Even before that, when that was the visual representation of the band and, to your point, that’s what had to sell oftentimes. The music for sure. And you go and you think about the contrast and something like The Beatles. like The White Album. There’s nothing on it.
Don Mock 11:56
There’s nothing on there.
Rob Broadfoot 11:57
But then you also had-
Don Mock 11:58
Beatles are all over the place, though.
Rob Broadfoot 12:00
The Beatles, they are all over the place.
Don Mock 12:01
Cause the Butcher album. I mean, think about that. That thing’s insane. But you could never do that today.
Rob Broadfoot 12:06
Even Revolver, it’s different. But I think that also to that was the heyday where it was, you think about the Rolling Stones, about Sticky Fingers.
Don Mock 12:16
That was a great album cover.
Rob Broadfoot 12:16
Think about Andy Warhol. Yeah, we’re hiring the world’s top artists totally to do the album covers. They put an actual zipper on the front of the album. Yeah. Like it became Just a really cool thing. And I think to your point, it was like the genre didn’t necessarily matter to the album cover design. Yeah. And it didn’t it oftentimes didn’t link up. Yeah. But that was Just a great, you know, you’d think about like, the guy here in Atlanta. Flournoy Holmes. Eat a Peach, the famous Allman Brothers album.
Don Mock 12:20
Rob Broadfoot 12:48
He’s kind of renowned for just his eccentric album cover art.
Don Mock 12:51
Rob Broadfoot 12:52
Which is super fun. It’s is coming back. I mean, and again, it’s cyclical. Vinyl is back. Now it’s, it’s all there. I mean, you could go to Sonos and buy a $1,500 record player.
Don Mock 13:01
Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same, right. But the vinyl record is a big piece. It’s a big canvas. It’s a big thing you’re holding, right?
Rob Broadfoot 13:03
Don Mock 13:03
Then we shrink it all the way down to tape cassettes. What does that like three inches tall. It’s terrible.
Rob Broadfoot 13:17
Three by five.
Don Mock 13:18
Right. So we used to have these amazing, fine artists doing these amazing album covers where you would pop the record in and stare at that album cover, while you’re listening. Then you got this crappy little tape, where you can’t see any of the detail. Then it’s like, oh, even worse, let’s shove that onto an iPod. And then we had the whole-
Rob Broadfoot 13:37
We had the CD kit. We had CDs.
Don Mock 13:38
Well, we do have CDs.
Rob Broadfoot 13:39
They were too small. They’re like, You know what, let’s give it a little bit more real estate. Then they put him in that weird horrible plastic packaging that was in the store.
Don Mock 13:47
Yeah, it made no sense whatsoever.
Rob Broadfoot 13:48
Made no sense.
Don Mock 13:49
Yeah. But you know, I think the canvas size and now everything’s digital, and you don’t even look at it on Spotify or on your iPod or whatever. The appreciation for the fine artistry of albums, I think is definitely coming back around again, which I think is cool.
Rob Broadfoot 14:05
Well, speaking of iPods, people tried all different kinds of things. And it was… Do you remember when, God bless him, U2 and it was hey, you’re gonna buy an iPod? The albums on it. Like surprise. Lucky you.
Don Mock 14:23
Yeah I remember everybody jammed their iPods with all their favorite albums, that they had either ripped off of Napster or Limewire. Right. And then all of a sudden you woke up the next day, and it was oh, a YouTube album is-
Rob Broadfoot 14:37
-shoved down your throat. I guess I wanted the U2 album.
Don Mock 14:40
Yeah. And it was like, I don’t have room for this. I couldn’t tell you the name of that album. No clue.
Rob Broadfoot 14:45
Don Mock 14:46
I think they’ve come out and said in retrospect that was a bad idea,
Rob Broadfoot 14:49
Yeah, but they’ll try out different things. Radiohead’s gone out and just given their album for free, done the Hey, pay whatever you think is reasonable.
Don Mock 14:58
Absolutely. Trent Reznor has done the same thing- from Nine Inch Nails- where it’s “hey, here’s all the bass tracks.”
Rob Broadfoot 14:59
Oh, yeah, I remember that. Yeah.
Don Mock 15:06
Makes your own versions of my songs. I want to hear what the public does with my songs.
Rob Broadfoot 15:10
Which is super cool. I think that’s super cool.
Don Mock 15:12
Yeah. I mean, I don’t know how you make any money doing that anymore. But I guess you’re already established.
Rob Broadfoot 15:16
All you’re doing is promoting yourself.
Don Mock 15:18
Rob Broadfoot 15:18
All your other albums, by doing it that way
Don Mock 15:21
Yeah, for sure.
Rob Broadfoot 15:22
I think Radiohead only did that once. They were like “Oh yeah, wait.”
Don Mock 15:26
Yeah, “hold on a second.”
Rob Broadfoot 15:28
Yeah, “maybe we shouldn’t do that.”
Don Mock 15:28
It should be noted, actually, that one of our clients is a musician company as well. We do a lot of album covers for that. We do have to take into account that you are going to be browsing for things online. When we design an album cover, we have many different music catalogs we work with, you have to consider, you’re only going to see it like one-inch big through a browser. Right? And what does that do? Well, how does that impact the album cover when you’re sort of scrolling and looking for thematically-related music? You know? Something to consider. Something interesting to think about as it relates to marketing music. That particular client is marketing music to people like us. Licensing music that could be in commercials or radio, TV film. And their music is in all that stuff, which is pretty cool.
Rob Broadfoot 16:21
Now, it’s all about the collab too, right? Especially if you think about hip-hop. You pay Snoop $500 million or $500,000 to be on one of your tracks.
Don Mock 16:31
Rob Broadfoot 16:31
And so it’s all about the collab. Yeah, the collab thing, so people are finding a lot of different ways to make money in the music industry. Very interesting.
Don Mock 16:42
Yeah, I think it’s cool, though, how everything has genred themselves into their own look and feel. Which, from a design perspective is pretty neat.
Rob Broadfoot 16:49
Yeah, although I think I prefer the wide open-
Don Mock 16:51
- wide open canvas?
Rob Broadfoot 16:53
Yeah. I’ve got my father’s record collection in my office on display, and I just swap out the vinyl from time to time, just to see the different artwork, because it’s so outlandish and out there.
Don Mock 17:06
Now the big, old stuff is is awesome. I’m a touchy-feely, it’s definitely something to be fun, something to be found for that. You know, it’s the touchy feely. I’m holding a record.
Rob Broadfoot 17:16
Or when you had the vinyl and it’s like, bonus poster! I mean, there’s a full poster inside the sleeve. It’s like, oh, my gosh!
Don Mock 17:22
Rob Broadfoot 17:23
Good stuff. And then you went through the phase I think in CDs, the big thing was alright, we’re republishing all the lyrics.
Don Mock 17:31
The liner notes.
Rob Broadfoot 17:32
We’re doing liner notes-
Don Mock 17:33
-lyrics to every single song. Here you go.
Oh yeah, I used to run home after buying a CD and then listen to the CD while go reading along at home. You know what I mean? Like figuring out what the songs are about and stuff like that.
Rob Broadfoot 17:45
Well, you were listening to Gorgoroth back then the internet wasn’t around. You couldn’t look up the lyrics.
Don Mock 17:52
I mean, I was running the Gorgoroth fanzine. Taking submissions.
Rob Broadfoot 17:57
So are you still the president or did you-?
Don Mock 17:59
I had to relinquish the throne.
Rob Broadfoot 18:01
- have to bequeath the throne?
Don Mock 18:01
Yeah. Once I had kids, I had to give up Gorgoroth.
Rob Broadfoot 18:06
What was it? they should do A Kidz Bop. Remember Kidz Bop?
Don Mock 18:09
It’s like Kid versions of popular songs.
Rob Broadfoot 18:14
You don’t remember that?
Don Mock 18:15
Rob Broadfoot 18:16
Oh, yeah, they did Kidz Bop. And it was all the top radio hits but sung by children.
Don Mock 18:20
Oh, God, I don’t know that I knew that.
Rob Broadfoot 18:22
Marketed to kids.
Don Mock 18:23
Yeah. My wife and I-
Rob Broadfoot 18:24
They should do that for Gorgoroth.
Don Mock 18:27
Well, how about a little Sepultura? Throw that in there. Right?
Rob Broadfoot 18:30
So funny, quick anecdote. I, in my car, on my phone, I have somehow in iTunes, I have 30,000 songs from basically my entire life. I have no idea how all of these songs are collected and aggregated. Maybe they’re in a cloud.
Don Mock 18:48
The magic of iTunes.
Rob Broadfoot 18:49
The magic of iTunes.
Don Mock 18:50
Rob Broadfoot 18:50
So in my car, I just play on random.
Don Mock 18:54
All the songs that when your kids were little?
Rob Broadfoot 18:56
From when my kids were little.
Don Mock 18:57
Rob Broadfoot 18:58
So I mean, you brush your teeth. So one of my favorite things. I’ll be driving with somebody and one of them will come on. Yeah. And it’s, you know, the Farmer in the Dell, or whatever it is.
Don Mock 19:09
Rob Broadfoot 19:10
And I won’t make a comment. If I’m riding with buddies, and that just drops. The look you get is… man, well that’s creepy.
Don Mock 19:17
That’s great. I used to go back and forth with my wife all the time. Why are we listening to Rafi? we should Just be listening to Bob Marley or something else instead.
Rob Broadfoot 19:24
Yeah, I’m with you.
Don Mock 19:26
But hey, classical music with kids and played a role.
Rob Broadfoot 19:31
Anyway. All right. Good stuff. Good chat. Go out and see live music people.
Don Mock 19:36
Rob Broadfoot 19:38
It’s a great thing to do. Yeah. Gets the creative juices flowing for sure. fun thing to do. So get out there and listen to tunes.
Don Mock 19:44
All right. Where can people find us. Mr. Rob?
Rob Broadfoot 19:46
On the interwebs at mocktheagency.com, of course, and on the socials @mocktheagency.
Don Mock 19:51
Rob Broadfoot 19:51
Drop us a note. Tell us your favorite album cover design.
Don Mock 19:54
There you go. That’d be cool.
Rob Broadfoot 19:56
Or your favorite band?
Don Mock 19:57
Yeah, I’m into it. Do it, peeps. All right, thanks.
Rob Broadfoot 19:59
We’ll talk at you next time.