As I sit hear on a Friday, I’m listening to the Prince Tribute station on iHeart Radio.
Before April 21, this likely wouldn’t have been the case. Then Prince was found unresponsive in the elevator of his home and he’s back on top.
Now, I’m not a hater. In the 80’s Prince was amazing! In the 90’s, he was great. But, quick, name 2 Prince albums after 1992. Come on, you can do it, there’s been 24! Don’t sweat it, I couldn’t do it either.
To hear the news, you’d think that Elvis, John Lennon, Michael Jackson or B.B. King had died again.
The truth is, that Prince was crazy-talented. Since he started in 1978, he had five #1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and four #1 albums on Billboard’s Top 200. That’s amazing! And it earned him the #18 slot on their greatest artists list. He also has directed and starred in three less-than-mediocre, self-indulgent movies (don’t yell, Purple Rain isn’t in that list).
But let’s put that in perspective … one of those #1 songs was Bat Dance, I’m simply not going to count that!
To further put it in perspective:
Taylor Swift has four #1 songs and four #1 albums on those same charts – and Prince was recording more than a decade before she was born.
Let me say that again, Taylor Swift has as impressive a Billboard chart record in much less time! I think we can all agree that she’s no Prince.
Prince was different. He defied race and gender. He was unique in every way. Heck, he even changed his name to a symbol for a while – not just to be different, but to take back the legal rights to his music. He was brash in his silence. He was just over-the-top funky enough. Los Angeles Times writer Randall Roberts called Prince, “among the most versatile and restlessly experimental pop artists of our time.”
I got to see Prince live in ’96 and he was a hell of a performer. But you couldn’t drag my limp, dead body into a Taylor Swift show.
Swift is too commercial. She’s talented. But anyone could do it. If we found her in an elevator, there would not be the same reaction. But she’s been just as successful.
The marketing lesson in all this? Be different.
When it’s all said and done, the difference between greatness and legendary is differentiation.
Like Prince once said:
“I tend to try to create something they’ve never seen before.”