R&B singer John Legend is seeking non-traditional advertisers to power his upcoming as-yet-untitled album, slated for September.
Legend previewed his eight songs for Billboard recently at New York’s Legacy studios and, amid the private listening, the singer said he is meeting with several advertising firms to discuss new promotional strategies for his new LP.
“I want to go beyond what the label machine always does and think of some cool ideas,” said Legend, who declined to name the ad agencies he's meeting with. “Labels get into a creative rut. I want an ad firm that launches other products to use their knowledge to launch my music. It'd be cool to get ideas from a firm that can still reach my marketplace. We're taking proposals now so as soon as we decide on one we can decide the launch date and direction.”
As for the music, Legend replaced his usual live instruments with 808 drums and futuristic synthesizers. The tracks sound much more mainstream than his 2004 debut, “Get Lifted,” and 2006 follow-up, “Once Again.”
“The last record was mellower,” says Legend. “The production this time is a little more up-tempo and more pop sounding than the last one.”
While Legend admits that he was a bit disappointed in the sales of “Once Again,” accumulating 1.2 million units to-date according to Nielsen SoundScan, he was not intentionally crafting radio-friendly songs this go-round. “Get Lifted” has sold 2.1 million units to-date.
“'Once Again' was difficult for people to digest because it wasn't any one radio format,” says Legend. “It was between formats and there wasn't an obvious place for everything to fit. I’ve been successful without a huge radio hit up until now so I don’t think about the radio when I make songs. Artistically, 'Once Again' was a great album, better than 'Get Lifted.' I had a bigger tour on the second album and it set me up to be an artist that's around for a long time so I just have to capitalize on that.”
Legend is putting the finishing touches on his first single, “Green Light,” featuring Outkast’s Andre 3000, and expects to shoot the video in May. “It’s Over” featuring Kanye West and produced by Pharrell Williams may be the second single but Legend isn’t sure.
Here is John Legend’s preliminary track list:
“Green Light” feat. Andre 3000
“No Other Love”
“Cross The Line”
“It’s Over” feat. Kanye West