Monday, May 15, 2006

I'll have a Filet of Promo.....Well Done

I’ve been thinking about marketing Clay’s album. I know how that comes as a surprise to …….Ted Williams? (and that’s just because he’s chillin’ right now)

I’ve seen a lot of comments that Clay should get the promotion that Artist A got or the radio support that Artist B got. The thing is marketing plans are not cookie cutter. You aren’t ordering your dinner at the Marketing Bistro where you can say “He’ll have what she’s having” like that scene from When Harry Met Sally. (Although I have been known to do a Meg Ryan as Sally impersonation when seeing Clay in fitted black pants.) Marketing strategy isn’t like standing in front of the fish counter at the grocery store (where you may see Clay buying his milk) and saying “I want 2 filet of sole, 4 pounds of jumbo shrimp and 3 magazine covers.

What is it with food examples, I just finished my supper???

Anyway, the bottom line is that Clay should get what Clay needs and not what anyone else got. What Clay needs is dictated by the product strategy, the target markets chosen and any additional strategies defined (new image). But you also need to take into account the artist’s strengths. For instance, Clay is as much a TV star as he is a recording artist.

I’ve been starting to watch a few other artists to see what their marketing is like. Most are from Sony/BMG (RCA parent). Even though Clay is under RCA specifically, marketing people talk and share ideas and best practices. I attend a regional marketing roundtable every six weeks. Most are not in my industry but I’ve still found some of their techniques useful, even though I’ve obviously had to adjust them for my specific company and goals.

Rob Thomas had the challenge to show that he could be a solo artist. He already had great respect as a songwriter and as the “voice” of Matchbox Twenty. I don’t believe that Rob has the world’s best voice but I do find his voice unique. I found it personally interesting that even though I own all of MB20’s albums, it did not even occur to me to buy his solo album, even though it came recommended by a friend. Did they not market to MB20 fans, assuming that we would just buy it? Perhaps it was because the lead single did not appeal to me. Or the fact that despite offering the very popular DualDisc format (CD and DVD), they did not offer just the CD. Clay’s album is rumored to be DualDisc, I hope they offer both choices.

(HA! As I write this the Red Sox pre-game show is on the radio and they just played the radio call of Ted Williams last at bat. I think I have ESP or something.)

Sorry, I am the queen of tangents. The lead single is critical to set the tone, especially in this age of digital downloads which drive album sales down. Sure, many will just download it rather than buy the whole album, but hopefully it will intrigue enough people to buy the actual album.

I’ve also been very curious about Christina Aguilera’s new album. First, her release was suppose to be this spring like Clay’s and like Clay she had to go back in the studio. Her album is now slated for 8/15 and I would expect Clay’s around that timeframe +/- a few weeks. Christina is an international star with a somewhat quirky image. She’s the female voice of her generation, IMO even though she occasionally gets a case of over melisma-itis. So how do you market someone who started a teen queen poptart, then had to get down and Dirrrty and now wants to celebrate a more mature adulthood as a happily married woman? I’m watching closely, especially since her album appears to also be a concept album.

It looks to me like they are going for the glam look to go with the early decades influence. However, her press release mentioned a couple of dirrrty songs so it seems that RCA was unwilling to let her go 100% with the new image. Labels are going to be pretty cautious until they figure out this balance between pushing album sales versus digital downloads. Her people mentioned that she was able to record some “angry” songs after having fights with the labels. I can’t wait to see if Clay sings I Survived You in concert later this year for that very reason….. Rumors of a song called Compromise on Clay’s album may have a very significant meaning. Video of ISY by Solo.

Christina is using MTV as the vehicle to blast her single out there and that makes sense as MTV has been very good to her. She’s always been a very visual artist in the same way that Britney Spears is, with the big exception that Christina can actually sing.

What I hope for Clay’s marketing is that they will be able to showcase the fact that he not only has the voice that everyone is aware of but that he has a quick and sarcastic wit (makes for great couch time) and he rolls the vocals and the sense of humor all together in one package (that’s small “p”) to be the great concert entertainer that he has become.

All artists have a brand. The true brand lies somewhere in between what the label was going for and what the public (or each individual) perceives. For instance, my brand perceptions are:

Rob Thomas—Songwriter with interesting voice
Christina-Incredible Singer with revolving/odd personality
Kelly C- Radio Star
Alicia Keys—Blues in her fingertips

Clay Aiken-Singer/Entertainer. He has the ability to be all of it for a long time. (And I think her writes but we may not see that for awhile.) But the whole package is there, more than anyone else out there and that is what they should market. Start with the big surge to radio and be creative with the online marketing. The TV marketing is easy. He sells himself in front of the camera. Then televise this man in concert.

The world needs to know what Clay Nation knows.

I saw a funny marketing cartoon today from the New Yorker. It is a picture of a man standing at the pearly gates facing St. Peter. There is a big sign above the gates that says “Birth, Death and Beyond”. St. Peter says to the man “Actually, preferred Heaven too but then the marketing guy got a hold of it.”

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The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

Really interesting. I'd love to have some inkling of how they are going to market the sophmore CD or even how they perceive Clay. He is such a complex guy - there's so much to explore (down smutters). I can't wait for it to begin.

feelingthejoy said...

I am dying to see the promo begin for Clay. It will definately be interesting. And, I so agree, that I Survived You will be something to see in concert next time...I can hardly wait!

Vox Vixen said...

I'm almost as eager to see the marketing/promotion plan for the CD as I am for the CD itself. Clay does seem to be a very unique kind of musical star with a somewhat unique fanbase. It will be interesting to see how TC chooses to serve Clay's varying demographics.

myclaystation said...

Great blog. I hope "they" do right by Clay. Can't wait for the promotion to begin and I, too, would love to see Clay perform I Survived You again in concert! Thanks for the video.

TheClayBlog said...

What will be interesting is what direction RCA takes Clay in. Do they go the "safe" way, or not? I can't wait to see what they do. We know he can sing.... now how will they promote him?

clarity625 said...

I have no idea how they are going to market Clay's sophmore CD, but I know I wish they would start doing it already. Loved the video you posted. It sure makes me miss him (haha, like I need a reminder).

beauzzartz said...

You know CB, one of these days I think we have a case to connect the principles of marketing to the principles of design, especially in the way those principles unify a vision for the complete "stage picture" or as you refer to the "package" . I get the impression that the stage picture/marketing package are are far more likely to be perceived as a whole, in which interrelationships between the elements are more important than their individual characteristics. Unity. Balance. Contrast. Emphasis. hmmmm.

Pink Armchair said...

This was really cool. And I loved your last a fellow marketer, I can relate!

~ YSRN ~ said...

Anyway, the bottom line is that Clay should get what Clay needs and not what anyone else got.

Big fat WORD! I'm looking forward to whatever it is they bring out to promote him. I'm just curious as hell at this point.

Idle-wandering said...

First of all, there's a typo--"I think her writes"....

But most of all, brilliant stuff. I'm looking forward to the marketing almost as much as the album, because we'll get to see him in interviews and TV appearances and magazine articles and what-not. Lots and lots of "quick and sarcastic wit". And that voice! What a package!

lyrichord said...

CB, I love reading your "marketing" posts. I'm very intersted in how Clay's new album will be promoted to the masses. I really want THE VOICE promoted out the wazoo, and for TPTB to sculpt Clay's image such that the world sees what we see, a mature, snarky, handsome man with a voice gifted from the gods. I really hope they do right by him, especially on internet and radio promotion to reach new audiences.

Howisitpossible said...

When you say, "The world needs to know what Claynation knows," you are right on! Film this man in concert, and we may never get a decent seat again.