What the WSJ Missed: The Lessons of Lady Gaga (For Every Marketer)

Covered in blood, meeting the queen in bondage attire, and now–the WSJ. Lady GaGa clearly has a few less-obvious and more notable lessons the WSJ skimmed over. While they didn’t quote her, the internet does so here are a few finer points:

It’s Not Just About the Music (Biz)—or the “Product”
Her product goes well beyond what’s distributed on itunes and played in every spin class, club, gay bar, etc. To quote WSJ: “Though she writes her own material, she is as focused on visual theatrics, fashion, and global appeal.”

Similarly, the lessons of GaGa aren’t just for the recording industry. CMOs, CEOs and creative companies and entrepreneurs should be taking notes. She is the biggest brand to emerge in 2009.

Own What Drives Your Brand
House of GaGa gets a WSJ drive-by as “a core team of advisers.” Hand-picked from (her words, elsewhere) “my coolest art friends,” they are the core of her brand. These collaborators help design the shows, the staging, the costumes, the clothing, the hair, the lighting, the everything.

Oh yeah, and it’s under her control.

As she says, “It’s a whole amazing creative process that’s completely separate from the label.”

Share the wealth, but own what counts. Her contract might give the record company some of her MAC cash, but the intellectual vision and property are all hers.

Are you outsourcing everything to a revolving door of agencies or freelancers? Does an AOR own your creative vision? Keep a core team inside and out that’s committed and connected. Famous, cheap, and/or easy = not enough.

Put Your Money Where Your Business Is
Overexposed? Maybe, but you’ve yet to see her yachting around Lake Como or having a balcony bash at Turks & Caicos.

From the beginning, her cash went back into, yep, Haus of Gaga:  “I wanted to put my own money into the show… I was making money as a songwriter and I didn’t want a condo or a car because I don’t drive and I’m never fucking home, so I just wanted to put all my money into my performance.”

Where’s your capital—cash, focus, creativity—going?

Strong Direction + Execution, Execution, Execution
The Haus of Gaga isn’t an entourage, it’s an execution-based creative laboratory with a bias toward doing and outdoing. The briefs are simple and well-defined, with very actionable outcomes:

“I said that I wanted to make my face light up. Or that I wanted to make my cane light up. Or that I wanted to make a pair of dope sunglasses. Or that I want to make video glasses, or whatever it was that I wanted to do.”

Take away: Tight briefs and strong vision are crucial to team success. Yet ideas without execution are just happy hour conversation—and worth about as much.

Grammy or not, this is just the beginning. Get more GaGa thoughts here tomorrow.


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