In an interview with Hits Daily Double, BMG executive Jon Cohen has revealed the publishing house’s commitment to Unbreakable and that they have formulated a three year plan with Janet that extends “beyond music”, including “multimedia, different specials, initiatives and projects”.
The interview in full below:
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 WMEhave 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.