Bob Dylan has a new album—Shadows in the Night—and he gave a single print interview about it. The exclusive (and Dylan’s first interview in nearly three years) went to AARP.
The long interview (roughly 9,000 words) was quite the snag for AARP. But they didn’t go looking for it. Dylan brought it to them.
Bob Love, editor in chief of AARP The Magazine, didn’t even return the first couple of calls from Dylan’s people. He figured they thought he was still at his old job—managing editor at Rolling Stone. But, no, Dylan really wanted AARP The Magazine, not Rolling Stone.
AARP represents people 50 and over, and its magazine reaches 35 million readers. Dylan told Love in the AARP interview, “I think a lot of your readers will identify with these songs.”
Dylan brought the exclusive to AARP because the association serves the prime audience for the new album, which is 10 covers of standards from the pre-rock era of American music, all previously performed by Frank Sinatra.
Sing to, Not at: A Valuable Distinction
Dylan is a big Sinatra fan. He admires Frank’s “conversational way”: “Frank sang to you, not at you, like so many pop singers today…. I never wanted to be a singer that sings at somebody. I’ve always wanted to sing to somebody.
The coup for this Dylan-AARP interview is that it really is the proverbial win-win.
It’s a story of an association brand’s success—AARP is so clear on whom it serves and how it serves them that Dylan’s people could realize on their own the benefit of giving the exclusive to a publication other than the usual suspects.
AARP gets a great exclusive that’s spun out into extended exposure for the organization, and Dylan gets to take his message straight to the people most likely purchase his album.
In the best situations, situations like this, you’re not selling; you’re offering something of value.
You’re not singing at people, you’re singing to them.
And value comes up directly in the interview. Love recalls how Dylan used to chase down Woodie Guthrie albums—it took some doing. Then Love asks, “And now the Internet has all of it—you can just touch a button and hear almost anything in the history of recorded music. Has it made music better? Or worse? More valued or less valued?”
Curating the Blur
This, of course, is the same issue coming up in education and lifelong learning circles—what does the proliferation of options out on the Internet, many of them free, do to how people value learning options and opportunities?
Dylan’s response to Love’s question focuses on how overwhelming the proliferation can be.
Well, if you’re just a member of the general public, and you have all this music available to you, what do you listen to? How many of these things are you going to listen to at the same time? Your head is just going to get jammed—it’s all going to become a blur, I would think.
One way you can combat the blur, one way you can save learners and members from getting jammed, is to curate.
The impressive thing about the Dylan-AARP interview is that it’s an example of double-curation—AARP is helping its members find music likely to be of interest to them, and Dylan’s doing his own curation of some old classics by covering them.
Both Dylan and AARP are making sure their curation efforts include adding value. Love is no shill for Dylan’s album; his interview is thoughtful and offers glimpses into Dylan’s creative process and past that are worth a read, whether you buy the album or not.
And, while others have recorded the songs on Shadows in the Night before, you can bet no one’s done them quite like Dylan.
P.S. More Value
If you’re interested in the concept of value and how it applies to marketing and selling education, sign up for the next Webinar in our Leading Learning series at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8808395821832745218. Thanks to Blue Sky Broadcast for sponsoring the Webinar so we can offer it for free to attendees.