2016 has been a tough year for ageing creative icons – and we’re only a third of the way in! So far we’ve mourned the deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman and now, Prince.
I distinctly remember singing along to Purple Rain with my best friend from primary school in the mid 1980s. We both loved his style, flamboyance and purple. My first boyfriend played me When Doves Cry (like many at the time, he used compilation tapes to express himself). And I still remember the sting of jealousy I felt when speaking with a friend the morning after she had attended the Sydney Diamonds and Pearls concert as we waited for the school bus. Raspberry Beret gets me singing whenever I hear it, and Julia Roberts singing Kiss in Pretty Woman makes me laugh every time.
Prince’s music has formed a soundtrack throughout those formative years when music is oh so important, but really his tunes have coloured my life ever since. I thought it’s fitting to look at some marketing lessons from the Purple One for this post.
1. Make Your Mark
With musicians for parents, it’s no surprise Prince chose music as his career. While Prince did the hard yards at first, he became known as an innovator in the industry. His first album, For You, was released while Prince was still in his late teens, but even then he produced, arranged, composed and played and 27 instruments used in the recording.
2. Create Something Iconic
If you were at a New Year’s Eve party on December 31, 1999, there is no doubt you heard Prince’s song 1999. Although a nuclear protest song, it became a party hit that still gets people on to the dance floor today.
3. Let Your Work Speak for Itself
While Prince was known for traversing a multitude of musical genres, including funk, rock, R&B and pop, and being one of the best-selling artists of all time, he also did a lot behind the scenes to help other artists. Many chart-topping songs from the 1980s and early ‘90s – such as Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor, Manic Monday by The Bangles and I Feel For You by Chaka Khan – were actually penned by Prince.
4. Stay On Brand
Prince became synonymous with the colour purple, but was also recognised as an innovator with a penchant for erotic lyrics and a performer who really knew how to put on a show. Even with a name change to an unpronounceable symbol in 1993, Prince’s audience knew what to expect from his music.
5. Be Unforgettable
When the US president says you were, “one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time” and NASA dedicates a purple nebula in your honour, you know you’ve had an impact on the world.