Pink Floyd: From Band to Multi-Million Dollar Brand

Political art and solid business keeps Pink Floyd relevant

By Nazifa Islam, Staff Writer

The Dark Side of the Moon

Image via Kapil Karekar (Flickr)

Walking through the auditorium doors of the Rogers Centre on June 23rd, one might have mistaken the year to be 1970. Crowds of people swayed along to “We Don’t Need No Education” and Pink Floyd shirts were on every other back. Perhaps the only thing that gave it away was the large screen on stage that alternately portrayed a brick wall with scores of graffiti and pictures of those who had fallen in war, from soldiers to civilians. For the next 2.5 hours as Rogers Water delivered a spectacular performance of music and pyrotechnics, it became clear that this was more than just any other concert. Welcome to the Roger Waters Performance of The Wall in Toronto 2012.

Pink Floyd began as a mix of psychedelic and progressive rock in Cambridge,UK in 1965. The band’s members included Roger Waters (vocals, bass), David Gilmour (vocals, guitar), who was brought into the band in 1968 to replace the band’s founder, singer, guitarist and songwriter Syd Barrett, Rick Wright (organ, keyboards, and vocals) and Nick Mason (drums). The Wall tour is currently only performed by Waters. With fans numbering to millions, Pink Floyd’s humble beginnings seem almost unbelievable.

During the sixties, they mostly performed for the underground band scene. The band’s rise to success did not come before their 1973 release of The Dark Side of the Moon which remains the second best-selling album of all time. Additionally, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall are among the best-selling, most critically acclaimed, and enduringly popular albums in the history of rock music (Last.fm). They have sold over 200 million albums worldwide and with 74.5 million certified units in the United States, it is safe to say Pink Floyd is one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Albums like Wish You Were Here have propelled the band’s reputation as a harsh critic of the music industry. But today Waters has turned the focus away from the music industry to government and the consequences of war; namely, the lost lives of civilians. During Waters’ performance of “The Wall”, several photographs of civilians who have lost their lives while caught in crossfire are displayed on screen.

Waters also takes a stab at capitalism, targeting big-name companies from all sectors including auto-manufacturing, food, and technology. Perhaps the most striking thing about “The Wall” is its blatant and unapologetic antagonism towards government and big companies.

One might expect that the tour would be censored but nothing of the sort has happened as of yet. Instead, Pink Floyd has grown over the decades from a rock group to an international brand with a mass following.

To attest to the enduring nature of their music you need to look no further than sold out shows of Waters performing the Wall. Whether it’s good music that’s kept them on the musical radar, or Waters’ tours, Pink Floyd refuses to be forgotten. In fact, until Adele’s chart-topping release 21, Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon, ruled the roost on the list of best-sellingUK albums.

The music is undeniably unforgettable and The Wall continues to make profits on songs that are over thirty years old. The Wall album alone sold 23 million copies throughout the world. And as a final seal of success and powerful brand-marketing, Pink Floyd has an iPhone App to their name. But does that mean it has become a brand entirely, or is the music still the driving force behind their success? The overwhelming audience enthusiasm as Waters belted out “We Don’t Need No Education” would certainly suggest the latter.


Kapil Karekar (Flickr)
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