Record sales are pretty bad right now, right? And sometimes no matter how much you pimp yourself to the media to get the word out about your project, your numbers are still gonna suck. But then Britney’s Blackout and American Gangster (with an all-important 10 minutes of T.I. screen time) come out and dominate the sales charts. Frustrating! So maybe musicians would be better off turning themselves into narcotized deadbeat moms? Or going out and getting themselves a federal weapons charge? MTV and Entertainment Weekly writer Margeaux Watson think yes!
And fortunately for Jive Records, Britney’s the type of superstar who doesn’t need to go the traditional route when it comes to promoting a project. “She has a built-in audience that’s enormous and she sells herself,” Watson said. “She’s like, ‘Why do I have to do an interview? You’re gonna write about me anyway.’ So it’s unnecessary, and it’s kind of lucky for a record label that they don’t have to spend the money on promotion. It’s kind of a win-win situation for all.” Even if Jive had wanted to mount an extensive promotional campaign, it would have been impossible because Britney has just not made herself available to them — but with Britney, every time she steps out of her house, that’s a public appearance.
So what about the bazillions of musicians without a “built-in audience that’s enormous”? Still, at least that makes sense in this particular instance–woman who’s been “dominating” the news cycle shifts mad units through a mix of spin and luck–even if it does yet again underscore the sad fact that no one shifts mad units anymore on the back of the music, at least without a compelling (or horrifying) media tie-in. But the article’s second assertion, that Universal is using T.I.’s arrest to subliminally promote American Gangster, makes a little less… okay, it makes no sense.
“The one scene that he’s in is basically what they keep showing in the commercials,” Watson points out. “It almost seems like they’re trying to play up the fact that, ‘Here’s this guy who’s in hot legal water, and now he’s in this movie “American Gangster” and he’s telling [Denzel's character], “I wanna be just like you, Uncle Frank.” ‘ So it almost seems like they’re trying to play that up and capitalize on it.”
And though no one can know for certain whether Watson’s theory worked, “American Gangster” did open at #1 at the box office.
Huh? Or maybe it’s a well-promoted movie with two high-profile leading hunks and a Jay-Z tie-in, plus the fact that America doesn’t really need its arm twisted to go see people blow each other away? Or maybe the commercials (and trailers!) were cut months before T.I.’s arrest? Or maybe judging by T.I.’s sales this year he needs do as much promotional work as he can? (T.I. Vs. T.I.P. didn’t exactly see a monster spike after he got busted.) And his record label would probably rather have him around to do interviews than forcibly stuck at home playing Xbox. Since “crazy drugged-out broad” and “dude on house arrest” are such surefire money-makers.