Case study: Them Crooked Vultures

tcv_bandAll of a sudden they were there: Them Crooked Vultures, the new superband formed by Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters/Nirvana), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age/Eagles of Death Metal) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin). Playing as a surprise act at a couple of European festivals, announcing concerts two days up front and not allowing anyone to photograph or film during their shows. What’s up with this mysterious behaviour?


In the summer of 2009 rumours about TCV started spreading on the internet, resulting in various speculations regarding a tour and album. All of a sudden they announce a concert, 3 days in advance, at the Metro in Chicago on August 9th, 2009. The poster only shows the 3 logos of the band and the date, time and location of the event. It sold out in a flash.

tcv_melkwegA few days later they played in Amsterdam at the Melkweg, again announcing the show a few days in advance. Getting a ticket wasn’t easy. People stood in line at the Melkweg the whole afternoon, getting their very own ticket. Only one ticket was sold per person, and only combined with a wristband access was being granted to the show a few days later. The room was packed.

Then there’s this festival thing. According to a spokesperson at the Lowlands festival, the organizers were called by a trustworthy agent who told them to pay $50.000 for a great surprise act. Pukkelpop (Belgium) was presented with the same offer. These 2 acts turned out to be Them Crooked Vultures. Billed as “Les Petits Pois” they played Rock en Seine in Paris, France too.

The information on their official website was very limited as well, making it even more mysterious (and thus making the buzz louder). At first there was nothing but a field to fill in your e-mail address, to keep you posted. Some time later a map appeared, with the place marked where there next show would be. Their YouTube-account consisted only of a few 30-second clips of new songs.

The keyword to this approach is: mystery. Keep as much as possible to yourself and you’ll be rewarded with a lot of attention from both music lovers and media, creating a big buzz online. Just announce your concert two days in advance, make yourself a surprise act and keep your music to yourself (for now at least). People start wanting to know about it immediately, because everything is so secret and forbidden. Be sure that you keep your promises though. Not meeting up to the expectations can kill you.


1 comment so far

  1. Steve "The Lemon" Sauer on

    The concert tickets to the one-off shows and also the October and December headlining tours were also made available almost as soon as they were announced, which means the band was able to capitalize on the instant intrigue. People demanded the tickets and went to purchase them, having no clue what it would cost them and having no consideration either way. Whatever it takes, that’s what they decided to spend. Definitely an impulse buy! And, as a result, I don’t think the band will be playing anything other than sold-out shows for the rest of the year.

    The band also used Twitter effectively in its marketing plan, as well as an official online forum that took off the day it was created. Not to mention the official online store that has specialized in selling a series of overpriced shirts with the band’s logos and a few gimmicky slogans that don’t reveal much either.

    I said it myself in one of my posts at and a dedicated site called the band has been acting as its own gatekeeper. It didn’t need the filter of the media, although the positive press from the Chicago Sun-Times and Rolling Stone immediately after the first gig certainly didn’t hurt.

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