Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Island not entirely thrilled by the new Tom Jones album

When people ask major labels 'why is it so important you survive, despite the outdated business model?', major labels often scrabble about in their notebooks for a while, before coming up with the justification that they provide vital support for their artists.

Let's join Island Record vice-president David Sharpe in the middle of an email showing some of that support in action:

"Imagine my surprise when I walked into the office this morning to hear hymns – it could have been Sunday morning. My initial pleasure came to an abrupt halt when I realised that Tom Jones was singing the hymns! I have just listened to the album in its entirety and want to know if this is some sick joke????"

Jones moved to Island last year for a reported £1.5m. Sharpe continued: "We did not invest a fortune in an established artist for him to deliver 12 tracks from the common book of prayer [sic]. Having lured him from EMI, the deal was that you would deliver a record of upbeat tracks along the lines of Sex Bomb and Mama Told Me ..."

There's some suggestion that the 'leaking' of this email might be part of a subtle campaign to promote the album. But:
The Daily Mail quotes Sharpe as saying that he stands by his email, and that he "paid for a Mercedes" and ended up with a "hearse".

I don't think any organised campaign would have come up with that - any attempt to build a viral campaign which involves an executive saying 'this record is a bit like something you'd take to a funeral' would be inept in the extreme; probably even more inept than even Island would manage.

The real question, though, is what was Sharpe thinking in the first place? He paid large sums of money for Jones to churn out more Sex Bomb style stuff - despite it having been painfully clear from the last couple of EMI albums and that toe-curling Wyclef Jean stuff that this was a mine which would not reward further working. He seems to have been convinced he was hiring a Mercedes, but he'd been bidding on a Smart car.


iStores said...

Clueless or what! These record company execs hey?!

H. said...

What was he thinking? Well, in common with all major-label A&R types, he wasn't thinking at all. signing Jones was a lazy, knee-jerk action by a man who probably knows or cares little for actual music.

The majors have worked like this for years, and sadly (for their continued viability at least) they are only getting worse and more bereft of imagination.

duckie said...

With any luck we'll see a rerun of the 80's incident when Geffen sued Neil Young for releasing music that was "unrepresentative of himself". I'm not sure that's actually technically possible since anything you choose to put your name to is effectively some sort of representation of you. Still, don't let that stop you Island, give it a go!

Parkhurst Knees said...

David Sharpe invests "a fortune" in an artist, and yet doe not hear any music until the entire album is finished?
Must be comforting to Lucian Grange to know that one of his MDs is so comfortable in his position that not only does he allow his A&R staff to go about their day-to-day unchecked on major projects, but that he is also perfectly happy to announce it by email to all and sundry.

Olive said...

I'm hoping that Tom's next album is another covers album, but this time he covers the whole of Metal Machine Music. Speaking of cuddly old uncle Lou, did you see this in the Grauniad earlier this week?


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