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  • Writer's pictureTroy Ericson

Metallica 8/6/23

I've been gone lately working on some epic projects and taking some self-care time...

But I read my COO Dom's email last week about the oddly-true business lessons he learned at a Post Malone concert...

So I figured I'd do the same thing for the Metallica concert I went to last weekend...

After all, I did something kinda weird but kinda genius that earned me a shoutout in front of 80,000 people.

Here's how it all went down...

Last Sunday was my 20th Metallica concert (superfan, I know).

I show up 6 hours early to every show so I can get right on the rail, 5 feet away from the action.

But I don't stop there. I also bring a sign to (almost) every show... My goal is always to make people smile, ESPECIALLY Metallica themselves.

It's like a mind game I play during the show. It makes the night that much more fun. Sometimes I get a point or a smile out of them, but it's RARE to get more than that.

(I did get Lars the drummer to take a pic with my sign in 2019... but this story is even cooler...)

The funny thing is, every time I create a new sign, the employee at the print shop gives me a weird look and says, "What the heck does this mean?"

Sometimes, it makes me doubt myself and think... What the heck AM I doing? I'm an adult bringing a silly sign to go see my favorite childhood band...

But then I remembered marketing lesson #1:

Stop listening to everybody. Only listen to people in your market.

Even if the print shop thinks my sign is weird, when I bring it to the concert... a bunch of people see it, laugh right away, and ask to take a picture with it (including the official event photographers).

But not only did the fans & photographers like it... So did James Hetfield (the mighty frontman of Metallica)... Who gave me a shoutout in front of 80,000 people (more on this in a sec)...

So the people at the print shop can suck it up (;

By now you're probably wondering what the heck my sign said... And why it got a shoutout over the other hundreds of signs that the band can see...

Well, the truth is... Most people's signs SUCK.

The wording is too long.

You can hardly read it.

They used dark colors that you can't see at a concert.

They say the same thing as everyone else.

Which brings on marketing lesson #2:

Your messaging should be EASY to consume...

People are busy. Especially a band that's playing 16 songs for 2 hours in front of 80,000 people at age 60.

If it ain't simple, they ain't even gonna read it.

So, what did my sign say?

The concert was at MetLife Stadium.

James has a tattoo that says "Riff Life".

So I made a sign that said "Riff Life Stadium".


Now, time for marketing lesson #3 (which is more of a life lesson):


Every time James was in front of the nearest mic, I'd wave it like crazy. I was about to give up about 75% of the way through because I didn't seem to get any acknowledgement all night...

Plus... Not gonna lie, there was only one other time 4 years ago when my sign was a HIT with the band...

So it's easy to quit.

But, the child in me REFUSED to quit!

All of a sudden, a song ended, James went to a nearby mic, happened to turn around, saw me, and said...

"I like that! Riff Life Stadium. Very nice. You've just renamed it. Love it. Love it, love it, love it."

The kid inside me was going nuts. I got high fives from other grown men. And it felt so cool to be recognized by someone that I've listened to for the past 15 years.

Anyway, I'll be back at another gig soon, with another epic sign.

I hope you enjoyed this email, although I mostly wrote it for me (;

- Troy

ps Marketing Lesson #4: I had another message on the back of the sign to see what would work better... Which means I was running a split test (;

Sure glad I tested it because I was ABOUT to not print the winning message!

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