Adam Lambert’s Star Power from an industry perspective 61 Single premiere, Sony, Michael Jackson, 2012 trailer, marketing, media snowball, controversy October 30, 2009 at 12:58 pm
I imagine everyone knows that Adam’s excellent first single from the CD premiered this morning on Ryan Seacrest’s show http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2009/10/30/adam-lamberts-first-single-for-your-entertainment-debuts-on-ryan-seacrest/… great that RCA and Adam decided to have the dance track to go along with the 2012 track as we talked about recently!
In my last message, I talked about how exciting it’s been that Adam has been embraced by the top of not only RCA, but also of Sony — Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” is a Sony motion picture (they also have MJJ’s recordings, but acquisition of the rights to the film was a separate matter; it’s been reported they bid $60 million against other studios for the distribution rights and it was a great deal. That’s one of the reasons I started a Business of MJJ thread in this forum… I knew Sony/RCA was the probable label for Adam so I wanted to explain more about MJJ as a precursor to Adam). With Adam’s trailer preceding the film worldwide, cool how this has all tied in, isn’t it?
Marketing is very much a two way street… fan interest creates media interest and if everything goes well (depending on your point of view) it snowballs. (Balloon Boy was also a snowball and that’s an example of how not every snowball is, well, white :). Frank Rich of the NY Times has an interesting piece about the rise of “instafame” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/25/opinion/25rich.html?em: “Richard Heene is the inevitable product of this reigning culture, where “news,” “reality” television and reality itself are hopelessly scrambled and the warp-speed imperatives of cable-Internet competition allow no time for fact checking.” (I’m not taking any political position here, it’s just illustrative of the cultural circumstances going on.)
Someone involved in the online research industry posted here a while back and I wrote a detailed reply about online social networking, the history and challenges of internet music downloads and the changes in promotion and marketing; I think that answers a lot of the questions but overall, we’re in the middle of a seismic shift in consumer marketing and interaction and Adam is in the right place and the right time and that’s awesome. (That’s one of the reasons I mentioned I sincerely believe Adam’s trajectory is as exciting in many ways as Britney’s introduction in 2000 from a marketing, press and fan standpoint).
Adam’s uniqueness and, yes, Star Power, captivated the imagination of people worldwide and as you’ve been here from the beginning I’m sure you’re not surprised to see how it’s grown and blossomed. As I’ve mentioned throughout the journey, the biggest part of course is Adam himself — being true to his creative instincts, having a unique style and presentation, knowing his “character” and, thanks to God and his parents, extraordinary talent. But his management and record company were and are equally important. Clearly Adam became a priority to Sony (and that’s not to take away from any other Artist, I respect and admire anyone who gets a recording contract because that’s so difficult in this day and age) and as a result Adam was given access to the finest people in the industry (which of course he made the most of… introductions only work if there’s chemistry and mutual respect). So if Luck can be defined as “where opportunity meets preparation,” I think Adam is Lucky to the 10th power.
Because there’s such fan/consumer demand for Adam (using the definition of Black Swan is fine, but sounds like an online researcher, I’d just call it tremendous, focused, multi demo interest), media follows (and that includes radio stations). I’ve read about people saying not to contact radio stations etc… while in general it’s true that pestering station managers can lead to taking tracks out of rotation, in this case Adam is a tsunami and I don’t think it’s going to matter: if the music is good (and every indication is it is) it’s going to be played relentlessly. This keeps feeding into the fans (and please keep in mind controversy sells, we’ve discussed that often, so that’s OK too), which feeds into the media and there’s your snowball.
Because the music industry has been in such dire straits, when Sony locked in to Adam I believe that the highest levels of power were directly involved because, ultimately and frankly, they believe he’ll make them a lot of money. And considering everything, I imagine you all would agree he was worth taking the risk/gamble on :). That’s how we’ve gotten to where we are; decisions were made to prioritize Adam and plans that were put in place that are unfolding exactly as we’ve been discussing.
Again, because Adam’s not concerned about it, I’d imagine it’s fun for the label and management to have all these somewhat controversial events: the Details photos, the album cover, etc. Fun because it’s provoking reactions, getting attention and generating reactions. So many talent teams (that includes the Artist, management, agents, lawyers and their media partners) are trying to be “politically correct” that it’s, well, boring. And who wants to talk about that? Give people juice and they’ll be talking even if it’s just razzle dazzle with no substance (see Levi Johnston, by the way good for him, he’s made a big Alaskan snowball up there and like it or not you’re talking about him). The best part though is when the juice delivers — that turns Mr. Warhol’s overused “15 minutes of fame” into a lifetime of accomplishments. Adam keeps delivering and the media spigot (which we discussed needed to be closed a bit to prevent overexposure which was the right move) is opening — as Disney says at Splash Mountain, “Prepare to get wet!”
Happy Friday and here’s to a fun Halloween weekend! Best, Michael