In the world of marketing and music you’d be hard pressed to find a better or more recent example of both working in perfect harmony than Kelly Clarkson. Since being discovered in 2003, the former “American Idol” winner has released two breakaway albums, selling a total of 15 million copies worldwide in the process; not to mention critical acclaim and twin Grammy’s. Truly, she has had a fairytale run.
Now, as she prepares to release, “My December,” her third record in less than four years, comes word of a cancelled tour due to slow ticket sales, internal management strife and mixed reviews on a record that is largely her vision and creation. What is going on exactly? Fickle fans? Post-sophomore slump? Try “burnout”—and I would argue it is evident on both sides of the fence.
I saw Clarkson in concert the year after being named the first “American Idol.” By that point, she had been singing, recording and touring virtually non-stop for over two years. Her voice was weak and ragged and she looked exhausted. Somehow, she would go on to record yet another album and then tour to support it. My point is that, like Clarkson’s voice and psyche, music audiences need a break. Remember Phil Collins in the 80s and 90s? If he wasn’t releasing a solo work, he was recording with Genesis or appearing on “Miami Vice” or in Live Aid. He was everywhere—for years—before finally disappearing; leaving mediocre music and slow sales in his wake. More recently, is it me or does every Beyonce song sound the same?
It is true that artists walk a fine line between cashing in when they are hot and overexposing themselves. Yet, considering today’s multi-media onslaught that includes ring tones, multiple awards shows and product endorsements, if I were counseling these talented individuals, I would offer three simple words of advice: “Take a vacation.” Sometimes the best marketing and promotional advice is to do nothing at all but, rather, take a break. Absence can and does make the heart grow fonder.