Adam Lambert’s Star Power from an industry perspective 3 Recording Contracts, Management, Artists & Managers, Japan March 27, 2009 at 4:23 am


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I have great respect for Clay Aiken and have been asked a lot of specific questions about Clay but only know a bit about his background. As I recall there have been a lot of career changes. Back in Season 2 RCA was handling recording contracts, but now it’s Sony/BMG. My understanding was he brought in another fine management company, The Firm, soon after, then followed his manager at The Firm to another company; management and agency changes are frequent but think 19 remained/remains involved, there are several public announcements to that effect.) His 2008 album, “On My Way Here,” released by 19 Recordings/RCA sold 159,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Aiken’s 2003 debut, “Measure of a Man,” sold 2.78 million. Whether it was because of SPAMALOT, or that it was all new material, or something else, “On My Way Here” didn’t sell as I imagine they hoped. The RCA drop may have been in anticipation of the Sony deal; Clay’s 2009 album that will be released March 31 is on Sony Legacy and it’s basically a greatest hits CD. But the bottom line with all of this is revenue and sales. It’s really hard to see artists you like not get the breaks you’d hope for or expect, but that’s the nature of the business. Clay has had (at least) two of the very best companies which indicates to me that there was a confluence of events. I hope he has success with the new CD and in the future, I think he’s a tremendous talent.

Re David Foster, David’s production range is so vast it would be fantastic if he works with Adam to be in this company (and that’s another area management can/should help with):

Whitney Houston, Céline Dion, Christina Aguilera, Cher, Barbra Streisand, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, Kenny Rogers, Michael Bolton, Deniece Williams, Donna Summer, Faith Hill, Brandy, Luis Miguel, Peter Allen, Richard Marx, The Bee Gees, Mariah Carey, Gordon Lightfoot, Kenny G, Destiny’s Child, Vanessa Williams, Deborah Blando, Lisa Marie Presley, Lara Fabian, Julio Iglesias, Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Tubes, Michael Bublé, Chicago, Katharine McPhee, Paul McCartney, Brian McKnight, Toni Braxton, Chaka Khan, Earth Wind and Fire, Seal & Bryan Adams.

Generally artists are broken (introduced) with the most commercial and marketable product possible; once a fan base is in place it’s a lot easier to take risks and try new material. I think Adam is a terrifically smart artist and because he can sing in so many styles it won’t hurt him to have some #1 mainstream Billboard singles before jumping off in a less marketable genre.

But I’m sure he and 19 will make great choices, and it’s mutual - I haven’t understood the “forced to sing” comments, everyone wants to have financial and critical success and 19 picks winners. Sure there are some disagreements (hey, we’re artists :) but if you look at the overall track record I think it’s astonishing.

Regarding how aware contestants are of what’s going on, they have access to media, their families and the internet (including iTunes to listen to tracks for possible interpretation). And of course they’re getting fan mail, chaos at appearances, and they’re live on television three hours a week. I imagine they aren’t being “pitched” because at this point it’s not possible, 19 and Sony will be handling all those details. But I bet they’re overwhelmed; who wouldn’t be during such an exciting and life-changing experience?

To answer questions about the contestant agreements, mainstream media has reported that contestants agree in advance that 19 has a right of first refusal (also known as an option) re management, and that the Top 10 agrees to 19’s option re management and recording. It’s also been reported by mainstream media that only the Winner is guaranteed a recording agreement, but all of the Top 10 can have their options exercised by 19, so it really doesn’t matter where they place in the competition in that respect. (And it makes sense, the Top 10 is going on tour and so it’s natural to coordinate the business.) Again, it goes back to financial… if 19 sees opportunity, they’ll pick up the option (which everyone knows going in).

It’s great reading about the interest in Japan about Adam, it will be amazing to see him in Harajuku! Last time I was in Tokyo I saw SHOCK and met with Koichi Domoto, he’s a really talented guy and Johnny Kitagawa has always been a gracious host. Japan will definitely be excited by Adam’s Glam Rock side. I remember years ago when one of the Hikaru Genji members decided to wear a white glove onstage ala Michael Jackson and the next day white gloves were completely sold out in Japan! It is still incredible to me that Japan doesn’t have a licensed version of AI, I know why it didn’t happen in the past but I can’t comment. But I hope they give it another try.

I’d like to reiterate that I’m not part of 19, CKX, Sony, RCA, Fox or any other entity involved in AI, and my thoughts are solely mine based on my experience in the industry.

Best, Michael

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