Category Archives: Hard Rock Music Marketing

Showcasing the tools that hard rock artists are using to promote themselves and engage with their fans (social media, crowdfunding, contests, etc.).

The Power of Metal: How Zakk Wylde Helped Death Wish Coffee “Score” a Super Bowl Commercial

Death Wish Coffee - Zakk Wylde - Super Bowl

By Adam Waldman

Super Bowl commercials have become almost as important as the game itself.  In fact, for viewers who are not football fans, the commercials are arguably more important than the game.  This year’s Super Bowl ad prices were an exorbitant $5 million for a 30-second spot, a number that is beyond the reach of many large companies, much less small businesses.  However, one very cool small business made a big impact as the winner of a Quickbooks competition that featured over 15,000 contestants.  Of course, only Death Wish Coffee had a direct connection to one of the greatest guitarists in the history of hard rock and metal…Zakk Wylde, whose fanbase helped this underdog company emerge victorious over their competition.

Although the NFL has a taste for homogenized halftime entertainment, and totally disregards rock music, the power of metal was still on display when the Death Wish Coffee commercial aired amidst multi-billion dollar corporations.  You’re probably wondering why Wylde encouraged his fanbase to support a small coffee company from upstate New York.  Is it that the company has the most metal name in the coffee world?  Is it that the company has the coolest (skull and bones) logo in the coffee world?  Is it because he wanted to be associated with “the world’s strongest coffee?”  It’s safe to say that all of these factors led Wylde to Death Wish Coffee when he decided to launch his own coffee brand…Valhalla Java.



Death Wish Coffee founder/CEO Mike Brown used to be an accountant, but gave it up to open up a coffee shop in Saratoga Springs, NY called Saratoga Coffee Traders.  Having one small coffee shop location in a somewhat pricey area made it difficult to earn a profit.  However, the inspiration for what would become Death Wish Coffee was born out of Brown’s interaction with his customers who demanded the strongest coffee that he had to help power them through their days.  This sent Brown on a quest to find out what was considered to be the “world’s strongest coffee.”  When nothing presented itself after doing extensive research, Brown took it upon himself to create the world’s strongest coffee.  After countless weeks of late nights, early mornings, cupping and a lot of testing, Brown finally found the perfect blend of beans.  Death Wish Coffee was born!




Upon realizing that he had something special, Brown assembled a small team of dedicated workers to help him bring “the world’s strongest coffee” to the world.  This team has worked tirelessly together to help spread the word about Death Wish Coffee.  There is no arguing that their work has paid off handsomely.

If Hollywood had written a script where a small coffee company connects with one of the most respected guitarists in the world, and that this pairing would work together to win a contest for a Super Bowl ad, the story might have seemed a bit far-fetched.  But for those who love an underdog story, hard rock, metal and/or extremely strong coffee…the teamwork of Wylde, his fans and Death Wish Coffee is one for the ages.




In a recent interview with Hard Rock Daddy, Kane Grogan (Death Wish Coffee) shared the story of the path that the company took to end up with an ad in the Super Bowl…

“Death Wish Coffee entered the Quickbooks contest for a Super Bowl ad in June of 2015.  All of the companies competing where considered ‘small businesses’ because they had 50 employees or less.  However, most weren’t as small in size or revenue as us.  Some of our competitors generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenue, so I honestly didn’t think that we had much of a chance to win.  Thankfully, Quickbooks is very small business-oriented, so they took our entire story into account.  It wasn’t until we made it into the top 10, that we thought that we actually had a chance to win.  Everyone in the top 10 had great stories and big followings, so we still seemed like a bit of a long shot.




Once we made it into the top 10, it was just about votes, and Zakk was instrumental in helping to push us over the top.  It was really close as we got towards the end, but we made it into the top 3, before being named the overall winner.




Winning this contest was basically like winning a seven million dollar prize ($5 million to buy the space, $1 million to produce the commercial and another million to promote it).  What you actually get is worth so much more than $7 million though.  It’s a great story, and since we have such an accessible product, things have really taken off.  When we were announced as the winners, it was picked up by a lot news outlets and print publications, and the YouTube video of the commercial had several million views within the first three days of launching.




While the cash value of winning was $7 million, the residual benefits of the exposure that we’ve gotten has to be the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars of free advertising.  This boost has fast-tracked all of our plans.  We’ve actually hit numbers already that were projected for 10 years from now.  Thankfully, we had all of our systems in place, so we were able to handle the influx of business and scale things accordingly.  If we capitalize on this opportunity properly, we can quickly become a national brand.  As it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if over a billion people have heard of us by now.




We actually started to feel the impact of the Super Bowl commercial ten days prior to the game as we competed in the top 3, so there was already a lot of coverage and exposure.  In some ways, the actual exposure during the Super Bowl doesn’t generate as much response because people are out at parties.  You do get an instant reaction, but the reaction is greater when people see it in print or on their computer.  The retention rate is higher on the exposure that comes with the Super Bowl ad than the 30-second spot itself, but that’s not to say that there wasn’t an absolute explosion when it aired.  Within 10 seconds of the commercial airing, we had a ton of people visit the website.



Twitter vs. Facebook:  The One BIG Mistake That Hard Rock Artists Make When Leveraging Social Media

Twitter vs Facebook - Hard Rock Music

Ever since the demise of MySpace, hard rock artists have been forced to focus their attention on Twitter and Facebook (the two dominant social media platforms).  By now, virtually every hard rock artist has realized the importance of leveraging social media, but there is one BIG mistake that many artists are making by choosing the perception of cool vs the reality of results.

Twitter has managed to remain “cool” throughout its growth, largely because it isn’t constantly making changes that frustrate and anger users.  It is, by far, the simpler, less obtrusive platform with an Oz-like quality because it doesn’t have an outspoken, unlikable CEO.

Twitter followers also tend to be less likely to stir the pot by spewing hatred towards the artists that they supposedly support, so it’s understandable why artists tend to favor Twitter over Facebook.

If the goal is to look cool and limit exposure to negativity, then choosing Twitter over Facebook makes perfect sense.  However, if the goal is to “move the needle” and get results, then choosing to focus on Twitter over Facebook is a HUGE mistake!

There is a lot to dislike about Facebook.

They are constantly tinkering with the site even though it does nothing but cause anger and frustration with its enormous user base.

They have a CEO that puts the “face” in Facebook, so there is someone to blame and hate whenever these changes occur.

They have unapologetically decreased the reach of posts on all business pages (by a large margin) in an effort to generate revenue with paid traffic.

They are invasive in ways that even George Orwell couldn’t have imagined when he wrote 1984.

And last, but certainly not least, a number of the “fans” that comment on Facebook pages are filled with piss and vinegar, and look to create controversy and spew hatred on a regular basis.

Despite their numerous flaws, Facebook gets results, at least when it comes to promoting hard rock artists.  Lest anyone think that Hard Rock Daddy is a Facebook shill; this observation is one that is backed up by statistical data gathered since our launch in March of 2013.

Even when Facebook limits the reach of any given posts, the results are markedly better than posts shared on Twitter when it comes to reviews of hard rock artists.

While Facebook blatantly wields their power by showing how many people saw each post, Twitter flies under the radar, allowing artists to think that they’re reaching many of their followers, when in reality, only a fraction of followers see any given Tweet.

Regardless of the percentage of followers reached, posts on Facebook get shared by fans far more than posts on Twitter are re-Tweeted.  And if a post manages to go viral on Facebook, the reach is drastically increased even if no money was spent to boost it.

Twitter is like the back-up quarterback that football fans long for, because no mistakes are ever made on the bench.  Facebook is like the starting quarterback who constantly throws interceptions, but ultimately, still gives you the best chance to win the game.

Hard rock artists don’t need to like Facebook or their business practices, but they should respect the power of the platform and focus their attention (and budget) accordingly if they want to gain the most leverage from their social media efforts.

Black Stone Cherry Teams Up with World’s Loudest Month for Innovative Contest

Black Stone Cherry

The arrival of April has brought the seemingly endless winter of 2014 to a merciful end.  For hard rock and metal music fans, the arrival of Spring means more than just better weather; it means that we are once again ready to embark upon the “world’s loudest month.”  Black Stone Cherry is teaming up with World’s Loudest Month and Roadrunner Records for a contest that will undoubtedly get two “horns up” from hard rock and metal music fans.


This is an exciting time for Black Stone Cherry.  There is already a buzz building over “Me And Mary Jane,” the first single from their highly-anticipated new album, Magic Mountain, which will be released on May 6, 2014, and they will be appearing at four of the top hard rock music festivals in the coming month.


Fans entering the contest will have the chance to win a weekend pass to see Black Stone Cherry (and a number of other great acts) at either Welcome to Rockville (April 26-27), Carolina Rebellion (May 3-4), Rock On The Range (May 16-18) or Rocklahoma (May 23-25).


The contest form also gives you the opportunity to join the e-mail list for Black Stone Cherry and other bands on Roadrunner Records (Trivium, Killswitch Engage, Gojira, Theory Of A Deadman and Kvelertak), so even if you don’t win, there is still a benefit to entering.


Hard Rock Daddy will be featuring a review of Magic Mountain in the coming weeks.  Until then, check out the official video for “Me And Mary Jane” to whet your appetite…


DIGITAL SUMMER: The Ultimate Fan-Friendly Hard Rock Band

Digital Summer Merchandise

In today’s economy, hard rock music fans are often-times forced to make choices to stretch their limited budgets.  For some, that means choosing which band they will see when they come through town.  For others, it means forgoing a souvenir concert t-shirt because they simply cannot justify spending $30 – $40 for a keepsake item.  What if, for the same $30, you could get a band merch package consisting of:  a t-shirt, three autographed albums, a signed lithograph band photo, a coozie, a set of wristbands, two car decals and a sticker pack thrown in for good measure?  Sounds like a hoax, doesn’t it?  For many bands, it would be, but Digital Summer is offering this exact deal for the rest of August in celebration of the one-year anniversary of their latest album, Breaking Point.

For those of you who are thinking that the band must be crazy to offer a deal like this, please read the featured article on the band that appeared on Hard Rock Daddy a few months back – “Digital Summer:  Setting the Standard for Hard Rock Bands on the Rise”.  As an independent band, Digital Summer realizes that they must break from conventional wisdom and think outside the box.  If the band just broke even on this deal, it would still be worthwhile for a few reasons.

First and foremost, Digital Summer is giving back to the fans.  In the day and age of social media, goodwill like this will not be limited to those who take advantage of this incredible offer.  It will spread to the friends of those people and to their social media connections, thereby increasing exposure for the band and cementing them as the ultimate fan-friendly hard rock band around.

The other reason that it makes sense for the band to do this is because they are businessmen who understand the long-term value building a loyal fanbase.  Digital Summer is able to make an investment like this because each member of the band maintains a career beyond the stage.  To learn more about their approach, check out the interview with Jon Stephenson that recently appeared on Hard Rock Daddy.

To take advantage of the Breaking Point 1-Year Anniversary merch special, click here.

Please share this article with others via social media to give more exposure to an independent band that truly appreciates its fans!


The Last Vegas

Inspired by 70’s classic rock and glam, 80’s hard rock and heavy metal, punk and garage rock, The Last Vegas (TLV) formed in Chicago in 2005, and have been on a steady rise ever since.  In 2009, TLV burst onto the national scene after Nikki Sixx saw them play live and subsequently co-produced their third album “Whatever Gets You Off.”   TLV is this generation’s quintessential dirty rock band. They have previously toured with Motley Crue, and are about to embark on a tour with Buckcherry that will take them across Europe and North America.

TLV is in the process of recording their fifth studio album, which is slated to be released in September before the European leg of the tour kicks off.

To fund the recording of the album and the tour with Buckcherry, TLV has launched a pledgemusic crowdfunding campaign.  Like other crowdfunding music campaigns, TLV is offering rewards to those who help them to reach their funding goal.  However, most other campaigns don’t offer the wide variety of rewards that TLV is offering, including an acoustic performance at a backyard BBQ party.

In addition to their planned record release and tour, TLV has just debuted a new video for “She’s My Confusion” (see below) from their 2012 release “Bad Decisions.”

The video is based on a well-known, Chicago-area ghost story named Resurrection Mary that has been around since the 1930s. The young woman, Mary, had spent the evening dancing at the Oh Henry Ballroom (now the Willowbrook) with a boyfriend. Following an argument that evening, Mary left the ballroom, stormed out into the cold winter’s night, and walked along Archer Avenue. Not long after, she was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver who fled the scene leaving her to die. The story survives through the many men who claim picking up a young female hitchhiker along Archer Avenue between the Willowbrook Ballroom (which is the locale for the video) and Resurrection Cemetery. When reaching the cemetery, the young woman is let out only to disappear into the cemetery.

The Willowbrook Ballroom is a Chicago musical institution; one bad-ass, old-school place which drips of mystery, intrigue and aura. What better place to film an unconventional rock video for ‘She’s My Confusion?’  We stepped back in time and addressed whether those noises we hear in the night are real, or just a dream.Adam Arling (TLV guitarist)

If you’re a fan of bands like Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue and Buckcherry, you will undoubtedly become a TLV fan after listening to them.  Check out the video below and visit the TLV pledgemusic page to contribute to the band’s crowdfunding campaign.

For more info about The Last Vegas, visit


Hard Rock Music Marketing: Using YouTube Videos to Generate Income


On August 1, 1981, the first video ever played on MTV was “Video Killed The Radio Star,” a prophetic song by The Buggles that accurately predicted the importance of music videos in an artist’s career.  Over time, the “M” in MTV might as well have stood for “miscellaneous” as music was gradually replaced by original programming.  The only hard rock artists that reaped the benefits of MTV were the hair metal bands of the 80’s; hard rock and metal were the first videos to disappear from the channel.

Hard rock artists that wanted to succeed would once again have to become radio stars.  However, the limited playlists on commercial radio made it difficult for most artists to gain the necessary exposure to build a loyal fanbase.

In late 2001, satellite radio finally launched after years of delay, giving hard rock artists a platform that hadn’t existed since the early days of MTV.  Over time, the merger of XM and Sirius reduced the number of hard rock stations offered, but the stations that have remained have become incredibly powerful and influential on hard rock music fans, Octane and Ozzy’s Boneyard in particular.  However, while satellite radio has been helpful to numerous hard rock artists, there is still a limit to their playlists.  More importantly, waiting to hear your favorite song on the radio is not ideal in today’s “on-demand” society.

YouTube may have started out as a personal video-sharing platform, but it has now evolved into the greatest asset that any hard rock artists has in their arsenal, provided that they use it correctly.

It would have seemed incomprehensible not too long ago, but CDs will one day be as obsolete as 8-tracks and cassettes.  Many young music fans have never owned a CD, and probably never will.  This paradigm shift towards music downloads has made it nearly impossible to survive on record sales alone.  And while the younger generations will pay for some downloads, many see music as something that they should have access to without paying.  Right or wrong, this is simply the way that things are today.

Every hard rock artist should be taking advantage of the opportunity that YouTube has provided to help build an audience and generate income.  No longer is it necessary to have a substantial budget to create a music video.  While many artists may still want to create visually appealing videos, the reality is that most music fans are perfectly content with the latest hard rock music trend on YouTube – lyric videos.  These videos can be made for next to nothing and there is no cost to upload them to YouTube onto the artist’s official YouTube channel.

Creating a YouTube channel is simple, but the benefits are enormous, and if done properly, it has the potential to generate meaningful income in the following ways:

EXPOSURE – Hard rock music fans use YouTube to discover new music.  The more videos that an artist has available, the more likely they are to create new fans.  These fans may or may not purchase music, but they definitely attend live shows and buy merchandise when they do.

ADVERTISEMENTS – The money that can be made from allowing advertisements to be embedded into a video may not be significant, but it will add up over time.  Fans may not love dealing with advertisements, but it is a tradeoff that they will accept if it means being able to listen to the music that they want whenever they want it.

PRESS COVERAGE – The “press” is no longer confined to niche magazines and heavily trafficked websites.  Today, press coverage includes hard rock music blogs.  The easiest way for any online publication or blog to expose readers to music is by embedding a YouTube video into the story, or adding it to a playlist.  The bottom line is that songs without YouTube videos are less likely to get press coverage.

VIRAL BUZZ – Just like the press, fans want to be able to share music easily with their friends.  The simplicity of sharing YouTube videos on social media makes it much easier for hard rock artists to cultivate new fans that will attend live shows, buy merchandise and possibly pay for downloads.

It is clear that some hard rock artists feel that YouTube is somehow taking away the potential to sell paid downloads or CDs, but ultimately, they are going to pay a steeper price for failing to look at the big picture.

Digital Summer: Setting the Standard for Hard Rock Bands on the Rise

Digital Summer

There was a time when writing great songs and getting a record deal was all that was needed to launch a music career. Those days are long gone.  Today, artists with or without label support, need to participate in creating their own success.   Most bands understand this concept, but few execute it like the band Digital Summer.  Hard rock bands all strive to be unique, but they would be wise to at least implement Digital Summer’s well thought out plan to build a lasting career.

As a journalist focused exclusively on the hard rock genre, I am exposed to many artists throughout each day.  With so many to choose from and limited research time, the bands that are most likely to be discovered are the ones who offer the path of least resistance.  Too often, more emphasis is placed on creativity than it is on practicality, and for some inexplicable reason, artists make it difficult to discover their music.


Check out Digital Summer’s recipe for success:

IDEAL WEBSITE HOMEPAGE – When you go to , you don’t have to search for the music.  The live action shot of the band acts as eye-catching wallpaper.  Embedded on the page is the official YouTube video of the band’s hit song, “Forget You.”  Click and play.  It’s that simple.

Along the left side of the page is a toolbar with user-friendly icons that allows visitors to purchase Digital Summer’s music, sign up for their mailing list, read their biography, view their YouTube channels, visit their Facebook page and their Twitter profile with just one click.

Their other website homepage, is equally as impressive and user-friendly.


TWITTER PROFILE – Check out  The band members all use the same format for their user names, which are listed right on the profile.  @Digital_Kyle, @Digital_Ian, @Digital_Guido, @Digital_Jon.  The user names reinforce the Digital Summer brand.  A link to the band’s website is also listed on the profile.


FACEBOOK PAGE – Facebook pages should absolutely be used to promote music to the fans.  Digital Summer promotes their music, but also shares things that are designed to entertain and engage their fans.  Some are provocative and funny, others are opinion-seeking.  The band mixes in just enough non-Digital Summer posts to keep fans from looking at their updates as white noise.  Check out


FUN WITH FANSNearly every hard rock band has started out by building a local following.  Digital Summer rewarded their hometown fans at a local Bartender Beach Brawl.  The members of the band competed in a bartender challenge.  The invite to all was posted on their Facebook page.  It’s great to be a serious musician, but having fun with fans gives them a personal connection and a deeper dedication to the band.


SUPPORT YOUR SUPPORTERS – Digital Summer encourages their fans to support their sponsors and makes it easy by providing links to their pages.  They also post their reviews on their Facebook page, giving exposure to those that support their music.


KEEP YOUR DAY JOBA large following on social media, radio play and high profile gigs do not necessarily add up to financial stability.  Many hard rock bands on the rise use crowdfunding to help finance their careers, and it is an effective tool, but there are only so many times that you can go to the well (so to speak).  The members of Digital Summer are professional musicians with professional careers beyond the stage.


Coming soon on Hard Rock Daddy – Digital Summer music review and interview with the band.

Dude, Where’s Our Bus?! – Keep NONPOINT On The Road – Indiegogo Campaign – Deadline 4/18/13!

Dude, Where's Our Bus?! - Keep NONPOINT On the Road

For many people, the average workday consists of fairly repetitive, mundane routines.  This repetition is the main reason that people find Mondays exhausting, and Fridays exhilarating. It’s sad to say, but the average person lives for the weekend.  Many people wish that they could live the glamorous life of a rock star, playing music for a living and partying during the down time, but the perception of the life of a professional musician is vastly different than reality.

Nonpoint is a band that would appear to most hard rock music fans to be living the dream, but that is not entirely true.  Their songs are often played on the radio, and they tour with some of the top bands in the genre.  But everything has a cost, and like the average person, Nonpoint, and other artists like them, must adhere to a budget.

Surviving as an up-and-coming artist today is a challenge because the days of huge financial backing from record labels are long gone.  For most artists, the only way to survive is to tour with regularity, but getting bookings is only half of the equation.  The other half is being able to fund the expenses that go hand-in-hand with touring (tour bus, fuel, crew/roadies, food).  It all adds up much faster than people would imagine.

Thankfully, artists have another financing option these days – crowdfunding, where fans can make small donations in exchange for unique perks.  Check out the perks for each contribution level (starting at only $10),  and a short campaign video featured on the band’s Indiegogo page – “Dude, Where’s Our Bus?! – Keep NONPOINT On The Road.”

Nonpoint’s deadline to reach their $50,000 goal is on 4/18/13.  So far, the campaign has generated over $33,000 from nearly 500 funders.

After several years of struggling to succeed with various lineups dating back to 1997, Nonpoint is finally getting the recognition that they deserve.  The band’s song “Left For You” was featured on the Top 12 Hard Rock Songs of 2012, and they currently have the opportunity to tour with Hinder, All That Remains, Hell Yeah and others.

Help Nonpoint make it to your town by contributing to their Indiegogo campaign and enjoying some very cool perks.  Click on the link below to contribute…

Dude, Where’s Our Bus?! – Keep NONPOINT On The Road – Contributions

Sing With Black Veil Brides

Snap 2013-03-26 at 09.52.31

Black Veil Brides is taking the hard rock world by storm.  Their album Wretched And Divine: The Story Of The Wild Ones has spent 10 weeks on the Billboard Hard Rock Albums Chart, and their hit single, “In The End” has become a mainstay on the Octane Big ‘Uns CountdownAs the band prepares to embark on the European leg of their Church Of The Wild Ones Tour, they announced an interesting contest – Sing With Black Veil Brides – designed to interact with their nearly 2.5 million Facebook followers.

The concept of the contest is as simple as karaoke.  Black Veil Brides fans can either sing or lipsync the words to “In The End” using a webcam, iPhone or Android mobile device. Fans then follow simple step-by-step instructions, and a video mashup is created by a company called Audish to be shared via social media.

This simple marketing idea gives fans the chance to see themselves in a music video with their favorite band, but more importantly, it creates an interactive worldwide community of people who share a common interest.  Fans spend hours watching, rating and commenting on each other’s video mashups, and Black Veil Brides reaps the benefit of having an engaged community.

Check out the Black Veil Brides page on Facebook.

Kid Rock March Music Madness

Kid Rock

It’s that time of year again.  March Madness is upon us.  College basketball, which is largely ignored during the regular season, is top of mind across the country as people fill out their brackets to try and win their respective office pools.  Even the experts have trouble predicting the winners, so office pool participants are basically shooting in the dark when it comes to their picks.  This March, Kid Rock has made things interesting for his fans with Kid Rock March Music Madness, a brilliant interactive marketing contest that allows participants to vote for their favorite Kid Rock songs.

One Grand Prize winner will be awarded a Kid Rock prize pack that includes:  a signed vinyl copy of his latest album – Rebel Soul, a shirt, a koozie and more (according the website).  Round 1 of the contest takes place on March 19, 2013 from 10:00am – 11:59pm.  Fans receive one contest entry whenever they vote in a particular round.  There is no cost to enter the contest, but all participants must provide their e-mail address and zip code once they are done voting.

You have to applaud Kid Rock’s ingenuity.  This contest is engaging fans in a unique way by allowing them to help choose the best Kid Rock song of all-time.  Each time you listen to a song, you are given the option to purchase it via download.

There’s still time to vote in the first round, so don’t delay if you want to participate!