Quantcast
BMG’S COHEN DETAILS THE JANET UNBREAKABLE PLAN

Janet Jackson has been a global superstar for more than three decades, and her return to the spotlight has been met with passionate enthusiasm—a sentiment not typically reserved for most upper-demo divas. With a hit tour in progress and a #1 song at radio before the album even dropped, BMG EVP Recorded Music Jon Cohen talks to HITS about his company’s partnership with Janet’s Rhythm Nation around the release of Unbreakable, her first studio album in seven years. 


How did this partnership happen? Who signed it, and how did the story begin?
About a year and a half ago, Zach Katz, our Chief Creative Officer, met with several producers who have worked with Janet and told them about the new way BMG was doing business. Janet was intrigued by the model and she was intrigued by Zach’s creative force, so she came in and met with the executives and Hartwig. She really liked the vibe; she felt that this could be a home for Rhythm Nation and that we could do a really good job for her.

This Janet album has a more mature vibe, and she’s back with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who are the original architects of her sound. What did she want to accomplish with this release?
I think Janet’s goal—and again, she’s a mega-superstar—was to make uncompromising music, to do so in 2015 and put out what is just an incredible body of work and not be so focused on, “Hey, you’ve got to be at Pop radio immediately. You have to be here. You have to be there.” Of course, everyone at BMG wants to be #1 and is always striving for that, but what she really wanted was a team that wasn’t committed to something for weeks one, two and three; She wanted a team for the next 18 months to two and three years. And we have a three-year plan with Janet. It’s not just about this record, and the plan goes well beyond music. Bertelsmann is a hugely diversified company, from books to media, and we’ve been talking since the get-go about multiple initiatives with Team Janet. So she wanted someone who was not going to look at this in the short-term, but really look at what Janet Jackson is in 2015, 2016, 2017, and how she wants to express herself. And she wanted a company with a broad enough canvas to paint that picture.

Part of that, I would imagine, is the tour, which is doing great. Can you talk a little about that?
The touring is all Janet; we do the recorded music with her, but we’re wholly vested in how well it does. Live Nation and WME have been absolutely blown away. They’re on their third leg already, and sales into next May and June of next year are already staggering. 

You’ve also developed a notable radio story with the success of “No Sleeep.”
It’s her first single, and it’s been at #1 for six weeks and counting at Urban AC, which is a record for her. It’s the longest-running single in her career since 1998. “No Sleeep” is a brilliant song, a great collaboration with J. Cole, and that it’s a #1 success is proof that we’ve worked it to the right format. 

And her Missy Elliott collaboration is your next single, right?
She has “Burn It Up” coming with Missy Elliot, an amazing club burner and all-around great song. We’ll do the same thing—surround it at radio where it’s suitable. We’ll also work “Unbreakable” back to Urban AC and anticipate that’ll be at the top, so radio is obviously one component. Janet has been a megastar and has more #1s than I can count; radio is obviously still a component, but in 2015 it’s not all about that, so the three-year plan is about multimedia, different specials, initiatives and projects, none of which I can talk about yet. 

Are there any special things coming up that you can discuss?
Janet turns 49 this year, meaning she has a milestone birthday next year, so there’s a big story to tell. I think there will be other things surrounding the tour itself, and the three-year-plus Janet plan will be all about Unbreakable, but I think it will also blossom into other things.•

NEAR TRUTHS:
A WORSE MOUSETRAP
Feeling the burn of the Hot 100. (5/29a)
OSEARY ERA ENDS
AT MAVERICK
But don't expect Madge's man to go on "Holiday." (5/29a)
HITS LIST IS ALL WET
Your Top 10 talking points, updated (5/29a)
LADY GAGA DELIVERS
Superstar and her team call an audible. (5/29a)
AIRHEAD: HOW TO WIN THE HOT 100
You just need these six credit cards... (5/29a)
SHORT WEEK
Enjoy being even more confused by the calendar.
BLACK MUSIC MONTH
Celebrating the music that fuels the biz.
INSTACART
Dammit, we said DILL pickles!.
TRUMP SAID WHAT, NOW?
Just wondering if you still give a fuck.
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)