The digital era hit the music scene like a sucker punch in the late '90s, with file sharing and a decline in music buying changing the music landscape so quickly it took everyone by surprise.
When savvy artists doubled back to their D.I.Y. roots and embraced grassroots efforts to connect with fans, many of them found kindred spirits with the Jägermeister Music Program, an artist partnership developed in 1994 as a way to help up-and-coming artists expand their audiences.
According to Rick Zeiler, Jägermeister's Director of Strategic Marketing, the program began and evolved naturally by mutual admiration between the brand and the bands.
"We started getting letters from bands all over who were enthusiastic about Jägermeister, and in some cases our beverage was already part of their show," said Zeiler. "We took the opportunity to connect with those bands, and then helped them connect with their 21+ fans. Our whole music program started that way, and just kept expanding from there."
Jägermeister took a stage-dive into the music scene just as the bottom dropped out, helping thousands of musicians get their music to the masses. They lent promotional support to local and regional bands across the U.S., providing co-branded merch like T-shirts and hats, and elevating the bands' profile with fans and club owners.
Even well-established acts began to take notice of Jäger's success with artists, and bands like Slayer, Slipknot and Pantera joined the ranks. In no time, they were the toast of the biz.
"One of the coolest things about our music program is that we grew with our bands," said Zeiler. "Lit was one of our early local-level bands, and when they signed a record deal we sponsored their first national tour. That experience led us to think about doing an annual tour of our own that would feature Jäger bands."
Debuting in 2001, the Jägermeister Music Tour gave those locally sponsored bands the chance to open for major acts in their hometowns. The tour grew into a semi-annual affair, and graduated from clubs to theaters and arenas. Today, in addition to the music program and tour, they've added the Jägermeister Mobile Stage—the ultimate live music experience—to the mix.
The Jägermeister Mobile Stage is a full-size stage that folds out of a single 44-foot trailer, which is pulled by a truck equipped with lodging for the entire stage crew. Instead of opting for a pre-built stage, they commissioned a custom design that would allow them to tote the entire setup—stage, lighting and sound equipment—in a single vehicle. Racks of Peavey and Crest Audio processing gear, a 16-enclosure Peavey Versarray 212 line array system and a Crest Audio HPW mixing console all fit inside.
The stage made its national debut on the 2007 edition of Ozzfest, the famous "Free Ozzfest" that was underwritten by sponsors, not ticket sales, so music fans got in free. Sharon Osbourne even credited Jägermeister with "saving Ozzfest" by giving them the stage for the trek. High-profile gigs across continent followed, including the Rockstar Mayhem Festival and special events for NASCAR and Supercross.
And Jägermeister still involves the locals at every turn.
"It started with the bands, and it's still about the bands," said Zeiler. "We have developed relationships at every level of the music scene, which puts our bands and our brand on a very visible stage."
Jägermeister is gearing up for an even bigger 2010, with stops at the Mayhem Festival, Rock On The Range, Bama Jam and more, while the Jäger Music Tour will roll again with hard-rock and country outings.
Take an inside look at the Jägermeister Mobile Stage on the 2009 Rockstar Mayhem Festival.