THE BLOG
10/24/2013 01:30 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Katy Perry: Is it the Music or the Marketing?

Katy Perry

I think you'd have to be living under a rock to not notice that Katy Perry has an album release this month.

"Roar." The single, released in advance of the album, broke her sales record for longest run at the top of the charts. "Roar." Probably didn't hurt that it debuted during the MTV VMAs where she sang it live under the Brooklyn Bridge.

She's clearly not worried about over exposure in her quest to roar. She's everywhere. Her success is unrivaled right now, even by Miley Cyrus who also performed quite infamously at the MTV VMAs. Katy has subconsciously declared that she's one of a short list of pop divas who have made it and who have longevity. I wish her well.

But I have to ask the question: Is it the music or the marketing?

Now I've been long accused of having the musical tastes of a 16-year-old girl starting back when I was, well, 16 and listening to Donna Summer. Then came Madonna, Whitney, Mariah, Beyonce, Gaga, etc, etc. I think you get the point.

Donna Summer was perhaps the best positioned as "Queen of Disco." Nothing like a tagline to cement who you are in people's minds. Madonna was/is a brilliant marketer in her own right. Whitney had "the voice." Gaga has perhaps the best connection with her "Little Monster" friends.

How does Katy compare? She's right up there, quite honestly, at least in my book in these times. Singer, song writer, performer. She's got the goods.

But is it the music or the marketing that is making her so successful?

Let's be honest. The music is pretty much the same. Pop music. You can get it from lots of people. Does her music measure up? Sure. But it's pop music, let's face it. We've "heard" "Roar" many times over from many a performer. The lyrics are familiar, as is the beat. Katy put her spin on it, but it's pop music -- the likes of which we've enjoyed for decades.

The magic comes from the marketing. The television appearances, the contest on the morning show, the teasers, the social media interactions -- the non-stop party that Katy (or any of the pop divas) has with her fans.

It's the marketing that's making her successful, and she is quite good at it, eclipsing her "competition" at the moment.

Pop music fulfills a very special place in our pop culture, social and personal lives. I think it's safe to say that those of us who enjoy it really "need" it. We need it to lift us up. But the trick here is that we "want" Katy Perry. We "want" her form of pop music and the experience that she delivers along with it.

And that is the inherent difference between a product and a brand. Need vs. want. We need products, but we want brands.

And clearly Katy Perry the brand is delivering.

So is it the music or the marketing? Yes.