In a production orchestrated much like a major live television show, a studio audience of about 90 fans sat within feet of country superstar Kenny Chesney to hear songs from his new album, (Life On A Rock, out Tuesday, April 30th) and the stories behind them.
This was Clear Channel’s first multi-platform album release party from its tricked-out, high-tech iHeartRadio Theater, presented by P.C. Richard & Son, in New York City. The audio aired on more than 100 country radio stations nationwide, while the highly-produced video was streamed worldwide on station websites and iHeartRadio.com.
Think Nashville (the place, not the television show) meets “Inside the Actors Studio,” only much more exciting, with Premiere Networks' syndicated morning host Bobby Bones onstage in one chair, and Chesney in the other. Fans heard seven new songs, along with Chesney’s detailed explanation of how each came about. And thanks to Bones, some laughs as well.
“I started writing these songs maybe six years ago,” said Chesney. “None of these songs really fit on other records, but they fit really well on this record.”
Chesney did not perform, and those awkward moments where a star had to sit onstage through his own songs were quickly extinguished by off-mic chats with Bones, and with various fans who seized the opportunity to hand Chesney gifts.
While an intimate a showcase for Chesney’s 16th studio album, it was also a showcase for Bones, now heard daily on more than 30 radio stations nationwide. “Kenny’s so easy to work with, and we’ve spent some time together,” he said. “When somebody asked if we needed a script, we said 'Nah, we don’t need one.'” "The Bobby Bones Show" is based in Nashville, at Clear Channel’s WSIX The Big 98, but the national Chesney listening party in New York was scheduled too close to the end of his show for Bones to make it from Tennessee to Manhattan in time, so he split his show, doing his part from New York.
“We prepped the show like we always do,” said Bones, who flew to New York on Saturday. “I use iChat to talk to producers down there -- it lets us do many things from many places.”
For Chesney; the power of the Clear Channel reach is enormous. For Premiere, the power of building the Bobby Bones brand is equally large.
“It’s massive for fans and listeners to be able to have an intimate moment with Kenny,” said Jennifer Leimgruber, EVP of Entertainment Programming at Premiere Networks. “Bobby Bones just got started on country stations around the U.S., and for him to be able to host this -- and for new people to be exposed to Bobby -- is fantastic.”
In a town where access and leverage are everything, there was a surprising lack of VIP advertisers, clients, and others who might spend that hour on their smart phones instead of soaking in the new music in those coveted seats.
While the songs were playing, large video screens showed photos from the album artwork as well as the lyrics, and plenty of fans sang to each and every song.