What Prince taught me about content marketing last night.

Last night I had the good fortune (…having paid a good fortune) to be in the audience for the once in a lifetime Prince: Piano and a Microphone experience at Melbourne’s State Theatre. What lacked in predictable greatest hits, was easily accounted for by the uniqueness of enjoying a raw 90 minutes inside the awesome talents of a timeless musician. Everything about this show was an absolute disruption to how we have become accustomed to visits by touring artists; from its sudden announcement a mere 2 weeks ago, through some extreme ticketing security measures taken to rob scalpers of their usual riches, into a sparse, minimalist (yet still so funky) performance, by an artist usually so over the top it hurts. The event got me thinking a few things that content marketers could learn from The Purple One or the artist formerly known as the Artist Formerly Known As…

1. Disrupt the norm.
Everything disappointing that concert goers have become accustomed to was broken up and smashed apart. Usually a big international tour is announced a month or so before tickets go on sale for a series of shows taking place 9–12 months later. Imagine the excitement, shock and demand generated by the sudden news that Prince was coming next week for a stripped back, intimate show. With supply limited to only 4 Melbourne shows over two evenings, he had our undivided and urgent attention.

If you are a content creator, be bold, be different and surprise your audience from time to time with a disruptive delivery or format. Avoid becoming wallpaper.

2. Reward your fans
Ticket scalping is such a part of the concert experience that music fans simply expect that the bigger the event, the greater chance we’ll miss out or need to pay exorbitant prices to shady types for access. Prince and his Purple People went to enormous lengths to ensure that the real fans were in attendance by setting a two ticket limit, collection at venue on day of the show only, and some extreme measures for ID verification. If we were going to be paying exorbitant prices, they were going to be the exorbitant prices that Prince had set, not those of the black market!

Reward your true fans by giving them early or premium access to your content. They’ll advocate your message to the rest.

3. Embrace the white space
The format of a man, his voice and a piano was beautifully raw and minimal in showing off this rare talent. Prince fans will be accustomed to hearing him in all of his funky, loud, big band glory but this was stripped back to the sound of a mere finger click or shoe tap on occasion. The space between piano notes or vocal melody actually performed its own important role as a virtual 3rd instrument creating texture, tension and intimacy.

White space is vital to drive home a meaningful message. White space on a page lends significance to the messages within a piece of work by assisting readability. Or perhaps you produce content daily? Consistency is important in building an audience but a day off might allow your audience to miss you once in a while and add weight to the work you do.

4. Be ridiculously talented
Prince is so full of charisma and such a virtuoso at whichever instrument he chooses, that he could probably sell his audience life insurance or encyclopedias. The reality is that if you are great at what you do, the medium, the format, the bells and the whistles matter little.

Quality over quantity. Simple.

Were you lucky enough to be at one of the two Prince shows last night? Let me know how you saw it.

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