Rising Artists Can Learn A Lot From Guns N’ Roses

No matter what kind of music you like (or practice yourself), it’s been hard not to notice Guns N’ Roses over the past year or two. The band first made an explosive comeback at Coachella in the spring of 2016, and has been on tour ever since, seemingly reigniting a dormant fan base and exciting new listeners in the process. Incredibly, the classic rockers now boast the top-grossing tour of 2017 over the likes of Coldplay, Justin Bieber, and U2.

Now, this is not success that can simply be replicated. Few living artists or groups have the history or name recognition of Guns N’ Roses, and therefore few are capable of this sort of reunion tour. That said, a close look at GNR’s actions and headlines since late in 2015 reveal a never-ending, creative marketing effort that has certainly helped the tour achieve this level of success. And some of the underlying concepts the band has used to generate attention can actually be used by rising artists today.

These are some of the lessons you can take from GNR.

Tease Your Activity

This whole GNR revival started off with a mysterious tease during the trailers for a Star Wars movie. The band didn’t promise a new album, or a reunion tour, or even the show at Coachella – they merely released a sort of vague selection of material that seemed to promise something was around the corner. So, naturally, fans spent the first few months of 2016 wondering about a reunion or special concert of some kind. Now, a rising artist doesn’t have the clout to bait fans on this kind of scale – but the idea of the “tease” is one that can be effective even when scaled down. Hinting at new material or activity, even if only to a moderate sized group of social media followers, enhances your presence as an artist.

Collaborate With Other Entertainers

Aside from the reunion itself, GNR’s most surprising move was probably partnering with an internet game developer who makes arcade slot machines. Actually, they were contributing to a series of games that incorporated original recording from some of the world’s premier rock bands (others including Jimi Hendrix and Motorhead). But of the included groups, only Guns N’ Roses was actively working on a reunion, so we can really look at this as one more way they got people talking about their music again before hitting the road. Here again a rising artist can’t imitate the effort on the same scale, but the concept should be taken to heart. Working with other entertainers – game makers, indie film directors, other musicians, etc. – is a great way to reach new audiences with your music.

Work On Your Energy

This is a little bit more general, but it’s something GNR has done very well with. Throughout their lengthy tour, most reviews of individual shows have seemed to focus on the band’s energy above all other things. Naturally, part of this is because the members of GNR aren’t as young as they once were, so a long set or a particularly high-energy performance is that much more impressive. Even so, it’s a nice reminder that fans tend to appreciate artists who aren’t huffing and puffing through songs, or who don’t tire after a few songs. So in a sense it’s a serious reminder to work on your energy and find the right way to prepare to give satisfying, high-energy shows.

Don’t Let Old Work Die Off

As they continue to see outrageous success on the road, GNR has continued to make interesting merchandising moves as well. Most recently, they released new “Appetite for Destruction” merchandise, taking fans back to an album that first came out in 1987. The band is brilliantly tapping into nostalgia here, but it should serve as a reminder to young artists never to let their old work die off. If you have even a small fan base, keep in mind what music the people in it first enjoyed. Even as you grow as an artist, release new material, and hopefully find more success, don’t forget that there are people who liked the “old stuff.” Whether by keeping the music accessible online, re-releasing it, or even releasing merchandise relevant to it, you should always keep it alive.