Recent statistics (Billboard, Vol. 121, No. 51, p. 166; December 19, 2009) show that music concerts generating the biggest incomes are those from artists who have reached their peak of popularity decades ago. There are many reasons for this popularity: an aging population, the difficulty for contemporary artists to generate sufficient interest to perform in large venues and/or to tour for a long time, the fragmentation of musical styles, etc. This context makes it suitable for the popularity of tribute bands. A tribute band is a musical group that plays the music of an original group that used to be popular. It does so with a variable level of mimicry. Not only do they act legally, but they may be endorsed by the genuine band. Furthermore, a tribute band like The Queen Extravaganza is even produced by the original Queen drummer Roger Taylor! Tribute bands do not only play the hits made popular by the band to which they pay tribute, but they may also copy other characteristics associated with the original band. These characteristics are numerous and may include songs, vocal harmonies, stage accessories, physical appearance of the original musicians, costumes, signature moves by the group leaders, etc. These groups usually have a brand name that refers explicitly to the original group without literally copying it (e.g., Brit Floyd for Pink Floyd, Led-Zepplica for Led Zeppelin, etc.). Some tribute bands have their own fan base who shares news and opinions about the band through virtual brand communities on the Web. Professional tribute bands like The Australian Pink Floyd Show even have their own merchandise (T-shirts, programs, CDs, etc.) sold at their concerts and on their Web site. But unlike other forms of copycats, their intentions are not malicious since they do not want to deceive the consumers. They always promote themselves as a copy of an original act. Thus, we are not in presence of a counterfeit product, although some tribute bands are successful at emulating every aspect of the original band (e.g., The Musical Box, a tribute band fully reproducing the original concerts of Genesis). Consumers are well aware that they are in front of a copy. The copy can then act as a substitute for the original band (1) that no longer exists; (2) that is composed of aging and less efficient musicians; (3) that will no longer play its former hits; and (4) where the ticket price for the show may be too high. During the live performance, the tribute band tries to play in such a way that consumers could have an experience as good as the one produced by the original group. Tribute groups use a copycat strategy based on elements that are "attribute-based" and "theme-based" (Micelli and Peters (2010), which is a mixture of more or less tangible elements specific to the original group. But can these bands that mimic the work and the stage performance of an original group also emulate the (brand) identity of the original group?
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- The Brand Personality of a Copycat Product: The Case of Tribute Bands