An MTV "Unplugged" performance is a milestone in any artist's career. But for Ricky Martin and MTV to make this one happen, the stars of creativity and opportunity needed to align just right.

An MTV "Unplugged" performance is a milestone in any artist's career. But for Ricky Martin and MTV to make this one happen, the stars of creativity and opportunity needed to align just right.

For Martin, an international pop icon who has performed for massive crowds since he was a child, the intimate acoustic performance is more than a footnote -- it signals a new chapter and artistic direction. MTV and Martin's team had discussed an "Unplugged" for years, but the idea gained steam after Martin's last tour, which took him to small venues for one-night-only stops in cities worldwide.

Those shows featured an acoustic segment, and "the whole thing snowballed," says Bruno del Granado, who manages Martin's U.S. Latin and Latin America market. Now the MTV taping is headed to CD this week via Columbia.

"I had my musical director, my trumpet player, my drummer, people with whom I've worked with a long time. I loved it," Martin enthuses. "Now, I don't want to do it any other way. I honestly didn't feel like going into a studio for a whole year. Because that's how long it takes me, from the day I begin to record until the day I turn in the album. I wasn't up to that."