Earlier this week I had the pleasure of going to the O2 Academy in Birmingham to see a band I like play there. I enjoy listening to music nearly every day but it’s not often I’ll make the time to head out and see a band live. But, I have a friend over from the US and before she embarked on her mini tour of Europe she booked tickets for us to go and see the Lumineers while she was in the Midlands. She’s a huge fan and her itinerary in Europe just happened to match nearly city for city the tour the Lumineers are on. So, we headed into Birmingham, and as we enjoyed some freshly fried up Chinese food in the queue, we talked about the songs we especially liked and were sure we’d hear.
If you can imagine for a second that the Lumineers are a brand, and the songs are their product, you could say we felt we knew the Lumineer’s product pretty well.* We’ve been entertained or moved by the music and the lyrics, we’ve had plenty of ear worms planted by this talented band.
Now, if you’ve ever been to a concert and seen one of your favourite bands, or groups or perfomers live, you’ll know that to experience the music live really adds a new level to your relationship with it. You hear it new ways, enjoy the chemistry of the singers and musicians on stage and, often, come away feeling like you know the music better, like you’ve connected with it in a deeper way. You’ve got up close and personal with the product.
The Lumineers put on a fantastic performance and, speaking for myself, I was transported to another world while listening to them. Wesley Schultz really engaged with the audience, with the whole venue and everyone on stage gave it their all. He drew us in close by talking to us before embarking on some of the songs. He’d provide a narrative on how the song came to be, who it was meant for, what it meant to him. We learned that Gun Song came about because Wesley lost his father to cancer and while he felt, as we all do, that we know our loved ones and have said a lot of what he found the gun, a Smith & Weston pistol in his father’s drawer after he’d died. Then we learnt about Charlie Boy…
And I had the realisation towards the end of the concert that Wesley was using story telling to make what was already a great product an even better product. By sharing some personal stories, intimate moments with us, he was helping us connect with the songs in a new way, helping us to share in them in a new way. We could relate to them on a new level. And I thought, wow, that’s how you make a great product even greater. That’s how you build a lasting relationship with your consumer, your customer, your audience. Because at the heart of good story-telling is the very human notion of relating. A story provides the platform for us to relate, to make the product ours, to cast it in stone in our mind.
But even while he transported me to another dimension with his rasping tones, winning smile and the coolest hat I’ve seen since Marshall Raylan Givens tipped his stetson in the TV series Justified, I had a realisation.
So, having a friend visit from overseas is a good catalyst for getting one out and about exploring their local stomping ground. I live in the heart of cider country, and my friend as a healthy and enthusiastic interest in alcoholic beverages and their production, having worked in a micro brewery and also on a vineyard in New Zealand. So, I booked us on a tour of of a local cider farm. It really was for her benefit, I’m no fan of cider and I live on a hop farm as it goes.
We pitched up a bit late for the tour but joined as the tour guide was explaining the history of the farm and the family who owned it and how what had started out as a small enterprise in 1880 was now a global operation. Over the next hour, we learned about each generation of the family, how and why each cider vat has a name, and how passionate the family is about the quality of their product. All of a sudden, cider, or this specific brand of cider had taken on a whole new life for me. I understood it, appreciated the integrity behind the production of it, enjoyed knowing where the names of the different cider brands originate from. So, not only did I leave with a crate of cider to enjoy at home, but now when I am out and in a place which may serve cider, I ask for this brand of cider. I have a connection to it. I think of the Weston family, and the workers back in the 1800s enjoying their six free pints of cider a day while they worked.
Westons cider tour
*Trust me, I’ve had to forgive myself for using this analogy in relation to music, and such great music, which is art and comes from the soul, but bear with me…..