His Latest Outburst Is Having No Apparent Effect On Sales, Radio
Chris Brown's latest public outburst will probably not cost him dearly on the pop charts.
In fact, Brown appears to be on track to top next week's Billboard 200 with his new album, "F.A.M.E." (Jive).
The singer, who already achieved notoriety with his February 2009 guilty plea to assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna, made headlines again on March 22 when he reportedly trashed his dressing room after an interview and performance on ABC's "Good Morning America." Brown was reportedly upset by interview questions about the 2009 incident.
Prior to the 2009 assault charge, Brown had notched nine top 10s as a lead artist on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Afterward, Brown missed the top 10 of the tally with the three charting singles from 2009 album "Graffiti."
But Brown came back strong in summer 2010 with the mixtape track "Deuces," which topped Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in the Sept. 11 chart week of that year and spent nine straight weeks atop the list-making it his biggest single yet. He followed it with two more top 10 hits-including his new chart-topper, "Look at Me Now" (featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes), which rises 2-1 this week.
Neither "Look at Me Now" nor its creator show any sign of losing listeners. Urban radio programmers tell Billboard that Brown's most recent outburst won't stop them from playing his songs, and they don't expect it to have a negative impact on his listenership. In fact, John Candelaria, PD at KBFB Dallas-Fort Worth, says it might stir up interest because many music fans will want to learn how Brown's latest incident will play out.
While some PDs say they don't expect sales of "F.A.M.E." to suffer either, Derrick "DC" Corbett, director of urban programming for Clear Channel/ New Orleans, isn't so sure.
"I don't think it will affect urban fans of his that want to buy it," he says, adding however that "just like with the Rihanna situation, if there is a backlash it will be felt primarily from the pop audience buyers."
So far, it looks like Brown is off to a strong start. Industry forecasters say "F.A.M.E.," which was released March 22, is on course to rack up U.S. debut-week sales of between 250,000 and 300,000 units, which could be enough to top the Billboard 200.
Brown has charted three previous top 10 albums. His self-titled 2005 debut bowed and peaked at No. 2 and was followed by 2007's "Exclusive" (No. 4) and 2009's post-Rihanna album "Graffiti" (No. 7).
Released in early December 2009 in the thick of the Christmas shopping season, "Graffiti" bowed with first-week sales of 102,000 and has sold 341,000 units to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The release of latest set "F.A.M.E." has been preceded by four Billboard Hot 100 singles: "Deuces" (which peaked at No. 14), "Yeah 3X" (No. 15), "No BS" (No. 62) and "Look at Me Now" (No. 8).
What should Brown do following his episode of tabloid-ready behavior?
Cornerstone Public Relations president Ed James says that he'd advise Brown's team to pull back on sitdown interviews and return the focus to the music. But that doesn't mean Brown should be cut off from all forms of communication."
I wouldn't tell him to stay away from Twitter," James says. "He is still responsible to his fans, and something like that has to be real."
Independent publicist Roberta Magrini agrees that Brown should cut back on doing press, but says he should step away from Twitter as well, where he tweets as @chrisbrown. "Twitter was not made for every artist," Magrini says. "For some, it can do more harm than good."
Calls to Brown's representatives for comment weren't returned.