The Band As A Billboard: New Mariah Carey CD Booklet To Be Covered With Ads

The headline reads "The Monetization Of Mimi" and what better artist to embrace ads on Mariah carey seatedher CD booklet than someone who sold out long ago. 

When Mariah Carey's "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel" is release on Sept. 15, a 34-page mini magazine co-produced with Elle will include the usual liner notes and lyrics, as well as, ads from Elizabeth Arden, Angel Champagne, Carmen Steffen's, Le Métier de Beauté and the Bahamas Board of Tourism. If things go well, label Island Def Jam hopes to do booklet deals for Rihanna, Bon Jovi, Kanye West and others.


“The idea was really simple thinking: ‘We sell millions of records, so you should advertise with us,’” Antonio “L.A.” Reid, chairman, Island Def Jam Music Group told Brandweek. “My artists have substantial circulation—when you sell 2 million, 5 million, 8 million, that’s a lot of eyeballs. Most magazines aren’t as successful as those records.". Carey was apparently receptive to to concept because the ads for her image. “I wouldn’t want to do Mariah Carey and Comet abrasive cleaner,” Reid said, laughing. “I wanted things that really reflected her taste.”

But the real reasons behind the deal are more than just about matching bands to brands with advertising.

With CD sales dropping, labels a desperate to find new revenue sources, and one of the places that music still has real value is with brands who see association with artists as a clearer path valuable consumers. Though the money from these ads could be substantial, the real win for labels may be access to new retails outlets.

“We don’t have music retailers any more, so a smart consumer products company that understands the value in distributing music is going to restore the vitality of our business,” Reid speculated. “If we distribute music properly and if it’s done tastefully, it could be a huge profit center for all of us. That is the missing link – we need partnerships.”  Already WalMart has committed to merchandise Carey's new CD alongside her signature Arden fragrance (who have an ad in the CD booklet) just outside the music aisle, as well as, display them together in the beauty department.

But while Carey fans may or may not care about ad in the CD booklet they pad $15 plus for, fans of other artists may.  And where does it end? Audio ads between the tracks? Flash ads before you enter and artist's web site?  Columbia Records looked foolish last year when Hypebot placed "Major Labels Are Obsolete" ads via Google on their main label pages; and they ultimately dropped the ad program.  Will this latest venture into the band as the billboard be worth the price?

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  1. It’s an interesting idea, the band as a billboard. We have seen bands align with brands for a long time now. Tours are sponsored etc.
    I think that we need to be a bit careful in whether our reactions to new music business ideas, especially those from the big music business that we love to hate, are knee-jerk reactions. We send the message that the RIAA-labels are irrelevant because they didn’t innovate, then we criticize them when they try to innovate.
    Perhaps this innovation attempt will fail. Perhaps it will succeed. For me, it wouldn’t impact my decision to buy a Mariah Carey CD (I don’t have any today).
    Advertising has long been part of the music business and that isn’t going to change any time soon.
    Thanks for prompting thought and debate on this and other issues in the biz.

  2. A while back I was trying to figure out ways to raise money for recording and I came up with an idea. We always had too much respect for the album as a piece of art to ever do something like this.
    But another way for DIY artists to raise funds for recording/promotion costs would be to put a commercial or commercials on their album as seperate tracks. Maybe at the end, or between songs.
    Just to clarify, I don’t think this is a good idea. And if it were to take off it would ruin the album as an art form. But it’s an idea nonetheless.

  3. For me, the question of advertising is always about relevance. I love advertising when it’s things I actually want to know about, there are some print magazines I buy where the ads are a major reason for why I purchase the mag.
    However, all of the contexts where I find the advertising to be well targetted and interesting always have a very narrow and specific topical focus.
    When most people say they hate ads, what they are really saying is that they hate ads that are not relevant to their interests. TV advertising is generally loathed not so much because it disrupts the program but because it’s so scatter shot and unfocused.
    As an example of what I am talking about. If I buy a CD with advertising in it, I’d hope to see genre specific advertising about stores, venues and other bands that specifically service this genre.
    I DON’T want to see an ad for a lawn mower, I don’t care how male oriented the music is.
    Also, finally, it would bug me a lot less if the ads were in a SEPARATE booklet to the usual CD liner/lyrics booklet. So if it really does offend you you can just chuck it and still have the unsullied CD that you actually wanted in the first place.

  4. I hate adds at the movie theater. I try and get there on time so I don’t miss the front of the movie and get bombarded with adds – UGH!! I have also for our fans sake tried to avoid the temptation $$ of Google adds on my bands web site.
    This is a tough call. I wouldn’t like it if I were a CD buyer. TACKY

  5. With the way things are going, I only see the “invasion” of advertising within art (and daily life in general) increasing. This is one of the last and profitable revenue sources and the entertainment industries will milk them until the last drop.
    Take a platform such as Spotify. Eventually we will all obtain music from this type of service, with ads placed sporadically between songs (such as Pandora). If we pay the premium – wala! No ads.
    For the consumers, the choice will be ads vs. premium – both allowing for a steady circulation of money (for now at least).

  6. Wow, old school ads inside of CD booklets that few people see.
    And did you see that another company, Reverb Nation is putting ads inside of digital album cover art – few people see that either, but at least it stays with the song if it is pirated.
    I see a trend here….. free = comes with ads, no matter how you slice it. I’m okay with that if it keeps the music free. We’ve had it good for too long and I’m not against getting the Artists paid.

  7. I don’t quite get the Spotify examples people are using here. The CD isn’t free. If it were free then the ads would be no problem at all.
    The CD isn’t even discounted. If you can get a new CD for $5 with ads. Fine I don’t think many would complain. But to pay full retail price AND be bombarded with ads is just lame.

  8. Back in the 90s, over here in Germany, the monthly music magazines used to come with a Various Artists compilation CD of mostly new artists and/or new songs that the labels wanted to promote. At first, they were ad-free. But at one point, the magazines began presenting them with a sponsor and at a later point, the sponsor was allowed an additional audio track at the beginning of the CD for their advertising message. That’s how the magazines still do it today – if they include a CD.
    Combining this approach to ad-financed music with the ancient “Warner Bros Loss Leaders” albums concept of singles and/or rare tracks as free physical releases distributed to you by a label could still work today.
    Mariah Carey’s CD isn’t the first one that gets a special “magazine edition”. U2 have done it previously with their recent album. I don’t know if they had advertising. But having the advertising in a special edition of the album that generally targets the main fan base doesn’t hurt. But having ads in the booklet of the standard edition or acoustically on the album itself is just greedy.
    As early as 1996, Sheryl Crow had her album banned from the aisles of WalMart because she wrote against one of their policies in one of the songs on the album.
    If advertising inside of an album were necessary to release it, we would have come a long way since then.
    This blurb was brought to you by Mozilla Firefox.
    Yannick, the GeneralEclectic has a myspace.com social networking community profile and endorses AdBlock Plus for Firefox.

  9. I think that this is a terrible idea but not as much of a terrible idea as posting something that is rife with grammatical errors. Have someone proofread before you post. Horrorshow.
    1] records.”.
    2] “With CD sales dropping, labels a desperate”
    3] “Flash ads before you enter and artist’s web site?”
    4] “Carey was apparently receptive to to concept because the ads for her image.”
    5] “With CD sales dropping, labels a desperate to find new revenue sources, and one of the places that music still has real value is with brands who see association with artists as a clearer path valuable consumers.”

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