A few years ago, the rigors of the touring life started to get to Natasha Bedingfield. She didn't mind the hard work and travel; her manager, William Derella, says she's one of the most committed artists he knows. But Bedingfield was tired of "hit and run" visits, as she describes them.
"I'd go on radio and a DJ would ask me what I liked about a certain city, and I'd draw a blank," she says. "I couldn't say, 'Oh, the airport was very nice,' or 'The backstage of the venue was excellent.' "
In search of a more intimate experience while on the road, Bedingfield came to work with the Hotel Indigo, a mini-chain of boutique hotels owned by Intercontinental Hotels Group. Hotel Indigo director of brand management Mary Dogan says the group's 38 hotels are all designed to reflect the neighborhood in which they're situated, while their restaurants and bars are geared toward attracting locals as well as visitors.
Hotel Indigo partnered with Bedingfield on its Locals Know Best contest, with the artist serving as a judge and playing a show for contest winners in New York. The Chelsea Hotel Indigo also hosted a listening party for Bedingfield's new album, "Strip Me," due Dec. 7 on Epic.
As she has done in the past, Bedingfield is partnering with numerous brands and doing several synch deals. Her song "Pocketful of Sunshine" was featured prominently in the film "Easy A," released last month, although Derella says he had reservations when he first heard the pitch.
"They sent me the part of the script where the star of the film says the song is awful, so we turned it down," he says. "But then they sent me the rest of the script, where the character can't get the song out of her head and winds up loving it. I approved it, and we've seen a nice sales boost for the track." According to Nielsen SoundScan, in the week after the movie debuted on Sept. 17, the digital single went from 3,000 downloads to 5,000.
"Strip Me," the first single from the forthcoming record, is featured prominently in the trailer for the film "Morning Glory," and Derella says it will be heard in the film as well. "We're also planning on some other promotions with the movie and attending premieres," he says.
For her last album, "Pocketful of Sunshine," which has sold 614,000 copies, according to SoundScan, a clip of the first single was made available as an audio insert in a magazine, and Derella says they're considering doing the same thing for the new album. "We had 45 million impressions from that, which was huge," he says.
Derella adds that he's in talks with Verizon, which sponsored Bedingfield's last tour, as well as fashion brands, and is hoping to partner with an automotive technology company for her next video.
Bedingfield also recorded a companion EP to her new album, which features more upbeat dance tracks than previous efforts. "I heard from so many people that they wanted acoustic versions of the songs, so we went into the studio and rerecorded seven tracks from the new record, stripped down," she says. "It's great the songs work so many different ways-I'm still a pop artist, but I want people to focus on my songs."