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Bringing the Beastie Boys to Market – Tips for Entrepreneurs

 

They [the audience] want one thing and one thing only, and that’s to see Madonna come on stage. But then, we go out there, we work hard. We win ’em over. And then they get real happy. It’s really kinda cool.Beastie Boys on Being Stupid, NPR’s Blank on Blank

On March 15, 1985,  Madonna’s Like a Virgin Tour was launched. The hot new artist had only played small venues up until then. Now, she was set to take the big stage and needed an opening act. Enter the Beastie Boys.

The Beastie Boys Virgin Tour performance was a perfect example of a product launch with an aggressive go-to-market strategy, such as the one explained by Professor Chuck Eesley in his Technology Entrepreneurship course at Stanford University.

Step 1: Opportunity Recognition

In 1984, Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “MCA” Yauch and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz transformed themselves from a punk rock group to a rap trio following the success of single that used hip hop beats and lyrics. They liked it and audiences loved it, so they made the shift. Signing with Rick Rubin’s Def Jam put them under the management of Russell Simmons who secured the Virgin Tour gig which happened a year before their debut album “Licensed to Ill” was released. The chance was there and they grabbed it. No doubt the tour would help lead to the success of their now hip hop classic first album.

Step 2: Creating Demand

These guys were “new brand” to quote my old uncle. No enclave of Beastie Boys fans existed in each city. They had the added pressure of knowing that night after night, audiences in black lace and lingerie filled the house for one reason only – to see Madonna and they stood in the way. How did they win an audience over? They worked, tested material, performed and worked some more.  What the Beastie Boys believed was that their product, the music, could be packaged each night and offered up in the right mix to satisfy the market.

…the companies that last, the companies that are enduring do more than just satisfy customers. They must constantly amaze them.Professor Chuck Eesley, Technology Entrepreneurship, Stanford University

They withstood the chorus of boos for the first 10 minutes of their 30-minute set and continued to rap, rhyme, curse and move until they made a connection with the single-gloved party girls. They tell the story as part of the NPR Blank on Blank Series, which is also incredible.  This interview happened right after the Beastie Boys finished the Virgin Tour.

Remember This: Market conditions may be suboptimal or even harsh, but a consistent commitment to excellence (with dope beats and lyrics) will open it up.

 

“They were very bad boys—they said ‘f**k’ all the time on the stage. The audience always booed them and they always told everyone to f**k off. I just loved them for that. I couldn’t understand why everyone hated them—I thought they were so adorable.”

—Madonna reminiscing her experience with the Beastie Boys on the tour.
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