Idol Audience Presents Marketing Bonanza

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• March 12, 2009
Joe Galante

Joe Galante

American Idol will feature the Grand Ole Opry on March 17/18 and showcase Opry members Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley plus Randy Travis who is also serving as the show’s musical mentor. Sony and Warner Bros. are leveraging the show’s 24+ million audience in some interesting and unconventional ways.

Underwood’s recording of Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” was chosen as the season’s soundtrack for its Idol going home segment each week. It is currently on sale as a digital track.

Underwood will also sing “I Told You So” with Travis and the digital duet will immediately be available for sale online. This track appears concurrently with her hit solo version of the song now climbing the charts.

Paisley’s new single, “Then” will also be performed for the first time on Idol and immediately offered as a digital single.

Also taking advantage of this mass market bonanza, Travis will release his new CD on March 17 to capitalize on the coverage.

Surely all these marketing hooks are no coincidence. Music Row checked in with Sony Music Chairman Joe Galante to get a read on how it came about and what the expectations are…

MR: Joe is this the first time that you have released a digital-only single right after American Idol?
JG: Actually we did it last year for the charity single that Carrie performed on the Idol Gives Back show. Late last year the idea presented itself for Carrie to work on developing a song for the show this year. She demoed “Home Sweet Home,” everyone loved it, and it wound up being the song for the “going home” segment. It debuts on sale March 16. And the Randy/Carrie duet
came about because it is a special occasion. Randy was the one that introduced her on the Opry and asked her to join. The idea became a natural after the Idol folks decided to do Opry week and Randy became the mentor.

MR: Are you expecting sales to resemble a big spike curve?
JG: There’s no doubt in my mind that the fans are going to want to capture this moment. Carrie and Brad’s audience plus other musicphiles. It’s great that Idol is tipping their hat to the Opry and giving us this kind of platform.

MR: This plan leverages the power of a unique TV property with a mass audience in much that way that you traditionally hope to leverage the power of country radio.
JG: Yes. FremantleMedia and 19 have always been great about country. Every chance Carrie got when she was competiting on the show she was singing country. I remember Simon asking, “Why do you sing that stuff?” But my last conversation with Simon showed that he is getting it now. Carrie has been a tremendous spokeswoman for all of us in this format. We saw in the CMA research, that people are walking through the country door because of this show. It’s a great opportunity for everybody in the format to participate.”

Read more here and also here!

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David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. dross@musicrow.com

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