By Bill Greenwood
Earlier in the year, Jaybird President Laurie Jakobsen wrote about Anita Elberse’s book “Blockbusters,” which explains how today’s digital economy has amplified big hits and realigned the overall entertainment industry to put an even bigger focus on superstars. And now, as we prepare to put 2015 in the books, we have been hit with two massive events that illustrate Elberse’s theory: the record-shattering releases of Adele’s new album, 25, and the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
According to Elberse, it is far more profitable for entertainment companies to throw most of their annual budgets behind a few giant projects that appeal to a mainstream audience rather than many smaller projects that appeal to various niches. In the case of Adele, Sony Music Entertainment certainly seems to have embraced this tenant. The marketing campaign surrounding the release was ubiquitous, with Adele’s single “Hello” being nearly inescapable, a plum performance slot on Saturday Night Live, a live concert special on NBC, and a slew of interviews with some of the biggest TV, print, and online outlets in the world. Even more interestingly, no tracks from the album other than “Hello” and an officially released live recording of “When We Were Young” made their way to YouTube, even after the record was officially released. This indicates that Sony had allocated significant resources to keeping the remaining tracks a secret, which in turn aided the marketing campaign in selling the full album.