Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Kid in Town

Recently, someone at Clay Aiken’s official fan club posted a question. What would you like to see Decca Records to do for Clay as we wait for his album promised in the first half of 2010? It’s an interesting question and it’s perhaps too simple of an answer to say, everything.

But I’ve actually been watching how Decca treats some of its other pop/crossover artists. They have some household names like Sting, Rufus Wainwright and Andrea Bocelli. They have other artists that are pretty well known in their genre or region like Morrissey. They are releasing an interesting B side album to help promote his tour, despite having a new album released earlier this year. A great, simple idea to get his fans excited and informed of his next big thing. They have people I’ve never heard of like Gary Go but it seems that they have developed specific promotional opportunities that try to play to his strengths or unique talents.

I already knew that Decca would work the social media outlets well; their parents at Universal Music Group seems to be on the forefront of that promotional path. Just the fact that someone is working Clay’s Twitter account (albeit at a low level) is something new.

What I am hoping for in the marketing plan is something that isn’t cookie cutter yet still well planned and deliberately integrated rather than feeling thrown together with just the basics covered. (Exhibits A and B-the last two album promotion cycles for Clay.)

I’ve watched the recent promotion of Sting’s new holiday album called If on a Winter’s Night. There has been traditional promotion along with other articles popping up in different places. I love the fact that there is a performance DVD being offered as a companion product. A concert DVD of Clay has always been a dream of mine. (As an aside, it’s also been a dream of mine for Sting and Clay to present together at some music award show. They are both former teachers, both known for their philanthropy and both recognized by one name. Clay did a beautiful version of Sting’s Fields of Gold at his 2004 concert.)

So what does this mean for what I hope to see for Clay? At this point, I’d take news of any kind. The natives are getting a bit restless. But I’ve developed enough marketing plans to know that they have their own timeline and while they can be fluid based on the dynamics of the industry, they also require structure. (But a little strategic tweet wouldn’t be blowing the whole thing, would it?)

But, this is my blog so I can fill it with a bunch of I wants , right?

I want a press release that screams respect and pride that Clay is a Decca artist. One that is well written (you’d think that would be a given but alas…) where natural sound bites can be pulled by a lazy media.

I want to be jealous of the person who created such a well planned promotional strategy, not one filled with second tier television where he doesn’t even sing.

I want a single that isn’t a ballad. His previous label missed the mark every single time after Invisible. (Hey,did you like how that word worked in two different ways..Every SINGLE time. Oh shut up, that sounded funnier in my head.)

I want an album with the eclectic sounds of the wonderful and barely promoted On My Way Here, which had something for everyone in terms of genre and tempo. If you ask my preference (and even if you don’t) I’d prefer no covers but if you must please avoid someone else’s signature song. He deserves his own.

I want Decca to capture his strengths which are many, but also to push him a little out of his comfort zone. He’s that good. The last time someone did that, we got the lyrical gem of Lover All Alone. I hope you can tease, coax, nag, pay him to write more.

The fact that this voice hasn’t graced a soundtrack is criminal. And that’s all I am going to say about that.

I would also say to Decca-Engage the fans. Keep us informed, when we get news we process it, discuss it from 17 different angles and then move on. We don’t do well with silence. Despite a reputation mostly created by the media; the Clay Nation is smart, technically savvy and will act like a well trained army. Give us direction and a task and stand back. Yeah, we have some over the top fans but what musician or sports team doesn’t?

As an aside, please don’t use the word Claymate in any official press or on any of the sites. Half the fandom dislikes the name and it doesn’t really sound very welcoming to a casual adult fan or a male fan. I know that the media loves it but please let’s not feed the beast, ya know?

He was “discovered” on TV and he reaches his best and widest audience that way. It seems like forever since he has performed on prime time TV. He is a double threat in that he can act as well so there are plenty of opportunities for him to get exposure just for “brand awareness” as well as specific music promotion.

Clay is very capable of a water cooler moment. He stole the press cycle after the finales of AI2, AI5 and AI8. I think an unexpected acting turn that shows his darker side would do the trick. He would be hilarious returning as Kenneth’s cousin on 30Rock but I kind of hope for deliciously evil turn on Lie to Me as well.

Please do the same type of live performance DVD that Sting is offering right now and that Rufus Wainwright released in September. Most of the public, even those who consider themselves fans, know the great voice. They don’t know the bawdy, sarcastic, frighteningly quick witted consummate concert entertainer. Show the world the total Clay Aiken, the one that probably prompted you to sign him in the first place.

I am sure that the smart folks at Decca/UMG know all of this but I’m tired of people asking me what Clay is up to these days. I much prefer them to tell me they keep hearing about him or reading about him.

On a more shallow note I will shamelessly beg for a look with longer hair of any color. If I never see another spiked hair on that very smart head, it will be too soon. That casually sexy blond man standing next to David Novik will do just fine.

I’ve got a lot of faith in you Decca, please don’t let me down.


And here's a little Fields of Gold from 2004. Hard to believe this was five and a half years ago. It's a little shaky, the fandom hadn't yet mastered the art of stealth video. It is preceded by a part of Measure of a Man. This was a special concert where Clay had to clear his throat and told us to sing. (I was at this concert.) He wrote in his book that he was overwhelmed at how much his life had changed and how much he felt it at that moment.

But that same beautiful ballad singer can dance and sing rock too, as he did here in Jukebox Tour 2005.

And of course I prefer original music, too bad this never happened back in 2005 before the mandate of love song covers.

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Anonymous said...

Great wish list. Hope the good people at Decca get to see it. Clay can sing ANYTHING and sing it WELL.

Can't wait to hear what he and his new label have been up to.

MAE said...

I believe this is a new beginning for Clay and all of us. I believe our expectations will be exceeded! He's a wise man and has learned much from his journey I'm sure. Like your wish list! Thanks for sharing! So excited about new music with Decca 2010! MAE

Anonymous said...

Wow, it's like you're in my head. LOL I agree 100%.

Anonymous said...

We can only hope for half of your wish list...this would make me happy. Bring it on Decca!

Anonymous said...

Great blog...Keeping my fingers crossed. Want to hear some news soon!

Denise said... wish list, too!!

Such an extraordinary talent deserves the BEST promotional tools available.

Jannet said...

A wonderful blog Corabeth! We shall cross our fingers for your wish list!

Erika said...

I agree with everything you said except for the hair comment. I LOVE and missed his spiky hair. Glad to see he has short hair again based on the surprise Foster and Friends appearance. Makes him look younger and more energetic, shows he's young and here to stay. While I love the longer hair as well, it's the signature spiky haired Clay I fell in love with back in 2003. Let's hope Decca provides him with fresh upbeat tracks that are radio ready and that they promote him well :) Great blog by the way.

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to add one more wish to this list (more like a demand on my part):

To go along with that upbeat lead single, a professional VH1-quality video that looks like it actually had a budget.

Thanks in advance, Decca.