The first time I saw Guster was the Summer of 2002 at the A. Finkl and Sons steel mill parking lot in Chicago opening for John Mayer. A. Finkl and Sons concert history started (and ended) with this show. Guster were not ones to let this moment go unnoticed. These guys have some of the best banter in the business. They had the crowd keeled over in between songs.
I started seeing more of their shows at Summerfest in Milwaukee and Alpine Valley (opening for DMB). The early 2000s was Guster era. It seemed everywhere I went it was Guster all the time. I got to school in Minnesota and Guster poured out of all the dorm rooms. Singer/songwriter dudes and dudettes covered them at open mics. They were on all the late night shows and on the radio.
The same year I started college and played my first show as a singer/songwriter (covering their song “Amsterdam”), Guster released their album Keep It Together.
12 years later, two brothers, David and Andy Bashford, covered Guster’s song “Diane” off of Keep It Together and posted it to YouTube.
Brian and Ryan from Guster, in a video posted this morning, said “If you put the word ‘Guster’ into YouTube, you get different versions of covers of our songs. One night I was creeping on our Twitter and I saw a link to this video of our song “Diane.” It wasn’t our version, but this guy David doing it…It had 3 views on it.”
Brian and Ryan from Guster continue on to tell the story of how they loved David (and Andy)’s cover so much that they decided to recreate it the same way. In essence, covering the cover of their original.
Guster, remade the cover video nearly frame for frame (wearing the same outfits David and Andy wore). They split screened their video with David and Andy’s and, in true Guster form, they added some extra, shall we say, personality. See below.
Brian, through some intense Facebook stalking, tracked down one of David’s friends and asked her to show David the video of Guster covering his cover and capture his reaction. Guster tells it better (and see David’s reaction) below. Brought me some of them happy tears.
When you’re wondering how you can connect with your fans in a unique, meaningful way in the age of social media, this is a great example of how it’s done. Even though Guster came up in the pre-Facebook, pre-YouTube, pre-iTunes music industry, they have maintained their down-to-earth sensibilities and have adapted brilliantly to the realities of the new social media driven age.
Instead of forcing YouTube to rip down the cover video (which is fully within their rights to do), they went the other way and made a few fans for life.
Artists should constantly remind themselves why they’re in music. Artists need to remember that they wouldn’t have a career without their fans. And that these fans who show love (in not-quite-legal ways) are well intentioned. Embrace it. Have fun with it. Suing them, shaming them and chastising them for not consuming your music in ways that makes sense to only you (not them), will only shorten your career. Applauding them, respecting them and cherishing them for appreciating your music in ways that makes sense to them is how you stay relevant for decades. Just look at Guster.