Before you get too excited about Rhythm Nation Records, Janet Jackson’s new label with BMG, take a breath. Janet and her Qatari businessman husband Wissam al Mana are paying for everything. BMG is not a record label. They are a publishing company. The old BMG was a label, then it merged with Sony, and then it was consumed by Sony. It doesn’t exist anymore.
Again: The new BMG, still part of Bertlesmann in Germany, is a publishing company. Last year they acquired Vagrant Records. Vagramt’s CEO Jon Cohen, became executive vice president of recorded music and oversee records released through BMG’s “Artist Services operation.” In other words, he finds licensees. There’s nothing wrong with that. This is what many legacy artists do now– they finance their own records, and put them out through a distribution deal.
Do read today’s press release carefully: “The partnership with BMG makes Janet Jackson the biggest worldwide superstar yet to quit the traditional record label system for a so-called artist services deal, designed to put artists in the driving seat. Unlike a traditional record deal, under an artist services deal the artist retains ownership of their recordings and full oversight of all costs and revenues.”
Janet’s paying them, you see. There’s no money to be made in a new record, no matter how well it does. The way things are now, Janet will be lucky to sell 250,000 copies. It’s not about her. It’s about the market. Her audience has aged. They want to see her in concert, live, singing “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”
The audience will get its chance. Janet’s tour will be huge. The new record, which she will own, will be merchandise to sell at shows four weeks after its release. That’s because the window for selling a new record is just about a month. It’s really the first two weeks. That is, unless she comes up a with a single so amazing that it defies gravity.
But look at Mariah Carey. “Infinity” is a great single. It got some press. It had one big week. But it’s over. Mariah will use it as a marketing tool for her greatest hits album and her live shows. These days, Janet and Mariah can’t compete with Ariana Grande, Charlie with the Latin numerals, the Iggys, the Azaleas, or the other potted plants.
So good for BMG and good for Janet. She’s lucky she can afford to put out her own records. Most recording artists can’t.