Maroon 5’s career trajectory is now once again on the upswing, as is that of frontman Adam Levine, thanks in both cases to his $5 million “side” gig.
Veteran Acts Maroon 5 and Linkin Park Are Still in Their Primes and Still Have Something to Prove, With Albums Hitting Next Tuesday
Maroon 5 and Linkin Park have something in common. The two bands have big-money/high-pressure albums hitting next Tuesday (6/26), and the latest projections have both at around 200k—meaning they’ll likely be in a battle for #1 not just with each other but also with Justin Bieber’s Believe, which will then be in its second week.
Both bands are road monsters. Last summer’s Maroon 5-Train package was one of 2011’s most profitable amphitheater tours, performing far beyond expectations. For 2012/13, the band’s brain trust is juggling Levine’s Voice schedule, promotion and strategically selected tour dates. They’re doing some July shows in the States, after while hitting Mexico, South America, Asia and Australia in August-September. Management is also planning a U.S. arena tour for the first quarter of 2013. In 2011, Linkin Park played arenas with Prodigy and others in the U.S., with atypically middling ticket sales, but the band is huge in numerous overseas markets, including China. They’ve headlined festivals all over the globe, as well as playing arenas, with stadium dates here and there. This summer, they’ll co-headline the Honda Civic amphitheater/arena tour with Incubus; the jaunt kicks off Aug. 11 and runs through September. 

Maroon 5’s Mutt Lange-produced 2010 album Hands All Over (142k debut, 1.1m overall) started out with disappointing sales despite its overall quality, but things have turned around dramatically in recent months. The band’s career trajectory is now once again on the upswing, as is that of frontman Adam Levine, who has co-written and sung on a pair of recent Pop chart-toppers, Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” featuring Christina Aguilera (now at 5.2m) and his featured role on the Gym Class Heroes’ “Stereo Hearts” (3.4m), since his emergence as a TV star last fall on season one of the runaway TV hit The Voice. Levine is on quite a roll. He gets $5 mil for each Voice season; this “side” gig also allows him to stay home and brand himself even as he significantly fattens his wallet. Add in the fact that he’s landed a lead role in the upcoming film Can a Song Save Your Life, and Levine’s future looks bright indeed. All of which strongly suggests that the time suck of The Voice has been—and continues to be—worth it.  

All of this grade-A exposure bodes well for the cleverly titled Maroon 5 LP Overexposed, on James Diener’s A&M/Octone. Manager Jordan Feldstein’s aggressive, forward-thinking and synchronous branding of Levine and the band’s brand during this heightened media period has been nothing short of stellar. Given all of the above—along with the heat being generated by the hot new single “Payphone” in terms of both sales (2.66m and counting) and airplay—the fact that the upcoming album is presently projected to sell only 200k in week one is hard to understand. There’s another looming question as well: Will Levine’s budding movie career continue to build the band’s brand, or is this the beginning of another career move a la Justin Timberlake’s for Levine?

Linkin Park has enjoyed continuous success since 2000, when Hybrid Theory (4.8m in its first year, more than 10m to date) broke them wide open. While the band may not be as massive as it once was—previous album A Thousand Suns (2008) debuted with 241k on the way to a relatively modest 850k—they’ve had a remarkable run, weathering the loss of the inner circle that helped guide them to enormity, starting with longtime manager Rob McDermott and including the previous Warner Bros. Records hierarchy.

WB’s new label execs appear to be doing a solid job on setting up the new, Rick Rubin-produced Living Things; Peter Gray, the recently appointed captain of promotion in Burbank experiencing no bottlenecks as he slams lead single “Burn It Down” at radio (the track peaked at #3 Modern Rock and just hit #1 Active Rock while thus far selling 385k). But questions surround the band’s current management company, Mike Green’s The Collective, which is loaded with old-school managers, begging the question, do they miss McDermott? The band, which has placed tracks on a number of film soundtracks, including the Transformers franchise, has the end title song in Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Killer, opening this weekend, in a well-timed tie-in. With all that, 200k would be a big comedown from Linkin Park’s previous endeavors, but they remain a great band capable of knocking one out of the park.

All in all, this should be a fascinating battle of the bands in the coming weeks.

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