I just recently finished reading “Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance” by Dean Wareham, ex-frontman for the band Luna (review). Great read. I’m a big fan of the man’s music, but I think even non-fans will enjoy his frank descriptions of internal band conflicts, the creative process, life on the road, etc.
It also got to me thinking that Wareham, a smart guy, and his bandmates really did a wise job of exhausting potential revenue streams for the band, while simultaneously making its hardcore fanbase happy.
For one thing, they released a 2006 documentary, “Luna – Tell Me Do You Miss Me,” of its farewell tour. It’s not just a celebratory feelgood flick though. It really takes you inside the disappointments and strains of the band. You don’t often see a band that’s willing to reveal the depressing side of trying to make it as a musician…what it’s like to be approaching 40, touring around in the back of a van, and having people constantly tell you, “I don’t know why you guys aren’t bigger.” Amazon’s summary:
In Tell Me Do You Miss Me, the four members of the celebrated New York-based indie-rock band Luna confront the ceiling of their ambition, the harsh realities of their modest success, and their conflicted feelings about each other as they embark on their final world tour and uncertain futures. Laced with moments of both humor and melancholia, Tell Me Do You Miss Me earnestly exposes the underbelly of a touring rock band in their final days together. Supported sonically with Luna’s dreamy catalog of indie-pop and visually with lush travelogue footage—with adventurous stops in England, Japan, and Spain—Tell Me Do You Miss Me is an elegy for an era.
The book and movie are both surprisingly raw and open. That admirable level of honesty will probably continue to draw in fans (and non-fans) even after the band is gone.
And the DVD landed in stores the same day as The Best of Luna, a greatest-hits CD. Previously, Luna put out a live album too. Both of those are good examples of how a band can make money without having to write new songs and return to the studio. And of course there’s the usual merch stuff like ringtones and tshirts (which was actually the only way the band made money on tour after covering costs).
Revenue is like water going into a dam. The more holes you can poke in that dam, the more ways the money has to trickle through to you. Plus, it gives fans more ways to connect with you and interact with you (especially if you’re willing to be open and honest). When that’s true, everyone wins.
Lead singers aren’t supposed to write books. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea though. What are you not supposed to do that’s actually a pretty good idea?