Artists have been name-dropping brands in their songs and placing products in their music videos for years, to their financial benefit.
So that's why Mariah Carey's latest move is not that surprising -- and still, yet, irritating.
Advertisements from Elizabeth Arden, Angel Champagne, Carmen Steffens, Le Métier de Beauté and the Bahamas Board of Tourism will appear in the CD booklet to Mariah Carey's "Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel," according to Billboard. It is intended to be a mini-magazine in conjunction with Elle magazine.
"The idea was really simple thinking: 'We sell millions of records, so you should advertise with us,'" said Antonio "L.A." Reid, chairman, Island Def Jam Music Group, a unit of Universal Music Group. "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 is one of that label's biggest artists, but they're also mulling similar or even bigger deals like this for Rihanna, Bon Jovi or even Kanye.
Album sales have been sliding down double digits almost every year for a handful of years. Becoming a No. 1 artist doesn't require selling as many copies any more, but every sale is harder than ever. Record labels took large part in this decline, and now, more than ever, they are seeking methods to subsidize the astronomical costs of putting albums out by money-pit brands like Mariah Carey.
And she is a brand. A big brand. Carey is one of the most enduring faces and voices in pop music and it takes a lot of money to keep that up. Art and commerce have to marry in the music business for superstars to exist.
But this is another instance where a valid question comes up: Where do you draw the line? Is money and return all that matters? How much can fans take until they dismiss you, take you less seriously or quit buying into your brand, as it strays further away from art and performance?
A lot of people are about to buy a Mariah product come Sept. 15, and will be paying, in part, to be advertised to. As a consumer, I find myself annoyed spending my money on that -- whether its the commercials before the movie in the theater or logos sewed onto the outside of clothing or the first 25 pages of fashion ads in the front of a magazine. But it's all in the effort to keep those trains chugging; some are just more expensive to upkeep than others.