At Billboard’s Latin Music Conference in April, Pitbull explained the meaning behind the title of his upcoming album, “Global Warming.”
“Our career, our culture is just like global warming,” he said. “When people said [about me], ‘He just made it, he just made it.’ No. I’ve been here. We’ve been here for years. And it’s the same thing with global warming. It’s been an urban legend, a myth for so long, and now it’s that relevant.”
While it’s a coincidence that “Global Warming” is arriving mere weeks (Nov. 19) after Hurricane Sandy caused devastation in the northeastern United States, the timing does further drive home the point. For few pop acts in recent memory have been as ubiquitous and yet as increasingly relevant as Armando Christian Perez, the Miami-based rapper/producer/impresario known as Pitbull.
Beginning with 2004’s “Culo” (featuring Lil Jon), Pitbull has placed 29 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 as a lead or featured artist, with 14 of those coming in the past two years; a feat matched by only one other Latin artist-Gloria Estefan. (Jennifer Lopez has charted 22 hits, Shakira 13.)
And Pitbull’s album sales have risen, despite the market’s decline. While his top seller remains his 2004 debut, M.I.A.M.I. (TVT), with 644,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan, his second-best-selling set is last year’s Planet Pit (Polo Grounds/J/Mr. 305/Sony), which entered the Billboard 200 at No. 7 and is inching toward the half-million mark (492,000).
Now comes Global Warming, which includes collaborations with Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Usher, Christina Aguilera and Chris Brown. And, thanks to a high-profile promotional schedule and a well-oiled release strategy that has synchronized Pitbull’s many partners around the album’s launch, the set may have the highest sales impact yet.
“Nothing’s really changed other than the fact that I’m here doing music in the music business and the music business is all about doing singles, not albums,” Pitbull says.
The multiple singles, manager Charles Chavez says, is at the core of who Pitbull is. “That’s exactly the point we’re trying to make,” Chavez says. “He has four, five singles. It’s really the Pitbull brand that’s driving the release.”
The album campaign began in the spring with “Back in Time,” the theme to the film “MIB3.” Global Warming’s arrival will coincide with that of the “MIB3” DVD a week later, allowing RCA, which is co-releasing the album with Pitbull’s Mr. 305 Records and Polo Grounds, to partner with Sony Pictures in marketing the project.
After “Back in Time,” which reached No. 11 on the Hot 100, Pitbull appeared on two major hits: Lopez’s “Dance Again” and Havana Brown’s “We Run the Night,” which respectively hit Nos. 17 and 26 on the Hot 100. When Pitbull released “Get It Started” (featuring Shakira) during the summer, it spent only two weeks on the chart. Now, Team Pitbull is promoting “Don’t Stop the Party,” which entered the chart at No. 89 on Oct. 13. The track, originally an instrumental by producer TJR titled “Funky Vodka,” was a hit in the United Kingdom when Pitbull heard it and decided to rework it for the album. The song will be used in both a Bud Light campaign that launches the week of the album’s release and a Dr Pepper campaign that’ll start by the end of November. Both involve TV commercials that espouse feeling good and having fun, universal Pitbull themes.
“I thought it would be huge for the record,” Pitbull says, explaining why he gave the same song to two different brands. “They know the bigger the record gets, the bigger the brand.”
Being “bigger” is essential to Pitbull and his music. When choosing his collaborators, for example, he doesn’t go just for the song or the relationship, but also for the dedication. “All these people overproduce-they deliver,” he says. “They’ll come to the award shows with you, do interviews with you. That’s how people really believe the collaboration wasn’t put together by some executive. When we do the collaborations we always ask [about the level of commitment]. That’s 75% of the album. You can have a hit record, but there’s nothing like a smash record.”
Global Warming will have an exclusive prerelease stream on iTunes in North America and Latin America, with each territory’s store displaying its own countdown clock. In addition, a Vevo campaign will feature original videos shot in 12 different countries, each one focused on an album track. Because Global Warming arrives prior to Black Friday, there are multiple retail campaigns in place as well as aggressive pricing for the standard and deluxe versions of the album.
Equally important, Chavez says, is that Pitbull’s brand partners came onboard mentioning the artist and album in their print, TV and online advertising, for multiplied visibility.
“He’s never been an album seller per se,” Chavez says of Pitbull. “We wanted this album to have a big sales impact. But we couldn’t do that without letting everybody know it was coming.”••••