Why Your Association Website is Like Van Halen

No, I'm not going to compare the revolving door of lead singers in Van Halen over the years to your revolving door of board members. 

Or that your organization can take a lead from how they've taken the old (the renaissance of David Lee Roth in the band) and made it new again.

Or that nepotism is a bad idea. Van Halen did after all dump their ace bass player Michael Anthony for Eddie Van Halen's son, Wolfgang.

Nope. Not that all of those aren't points to be made, but this post is about a little more nuance. An insight into the inner workings of a rock and roll band and how it relates in a very real way to how you should be considering the content of your website.

Is this about Eddie or David?

As referenced above, the disputes about creative vision between Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth are very well documented and span decades. And while Sammy Hagar did a great job filling in for several albums and ultimately selling more records than the previous Roth incarnation, one thing remained clear. In the end, the band is about Eddie. 

Back when the band was getting started in Hollywood in the seventies (yes, seventies!), David Lee Roth was the ultimate front man. A persona to only be emulated, never duplicated. His stage antics and banter are legendary to this day. And we know that a good voice and presence of a front man can be enough to catapult any band to the stratosphere (see Maroon 5 as a modern day example). But what was even more special about the band was that Eddie Van Halen, considered a guitar virtuoso from the moment he hit the scene, played with his BACK TO THE AUDIENCE! 


Because his guitar playing innovations were so provcative and mind-blowing that he didn't want any other guitar players copying his techniques and bogarting his status as an instant legend. 

So, this begs the question. Who ultimately was the star of Van Halen? The most charismatic and original front man the rock world had ever seen or a man who would prove to be the most influential guitar player to walk the planet? 

Here's your hint. What's the name of the band? 
Yes, Eddie was and still is the star. While it's a neck and neck race when both are on stage, Eddie crosses the finish line just a nose in front of David Lee Roth each and every night they are on stage together. And here's the reality: While David may only really truly be understanding this reality today -  currently fronting the band in a heavy metal revival of sorts - Eddie has always known it was his band. 

Okay, so what am I getting at?

The analogy is this: You no doubt have some competing programs within your organization. And there are no doubt some disputes on what program gets real estate on the home page of your association website. And there are no doubt competing views on what your members really want online from your organization.

Well, someone at your organization needs to understand (and then declare!) which program is Eddie and which is David. And then which is Alex Van Halen - drummer- and which is Michael Anthony - bass player. While Eddie couldn't possible be as successful without David Lee Roth, he is still the star.

It's not to say, of course, that the rhythm section of the band is not instrumental, just as all of the initiatives that support your "Eddie" program are important, but the rhythm section is a platform for the showcase. They can't be the showcase, too.

So, while we understand your association has a lot of content to market - content that loves to jump from the drum riser and do the splits in mid-air - don't confuse the flash with the substance. What content needs to turn its back to the audience because it's just so awesome, not to be shared with anyone but paying members? 

Know this and your band is surely heading to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ooops, who's missing from the hall of fame induction ceremony? Watch the video here

And that's, as they say, rock and roll, but I like it!

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