R&B singer John Legend is seeking non-traditional advertisers to power his upcoming as-yet-untitled album, slated for September.
Legend recently previewed eight new songs for Billboard at New York’s Legacy studios and reported he is meeting with several advertising firms to discuss new promotional strategies for his forthcoming 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.”
As for the music, Legend replaced his usual live instruments with sampled 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.”
Legend admits that he was a bit disappointed with sales of “Once Again” — which has moved 1.2 million units to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan — but says 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,'” Legend adds. “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 hasn’t yet committed.
Here is the preliminary track list for John Legend’s forthcoming album:
“Green Light” feat. Andre 3000
“No Other Love”
“Cross The Line”
“It’s Over” feat. Kanye West