The first time Edgar Berger recalls seeing P!nk was near the beginning of her career, as a new fan transfixed by her concert performance of the poignant single “Family Portrait.” As he remembers, “I was just amazed by her beautiful voice.”
Then, as head of Sony BMG Germany, Berger began logging many professional encounters with the artist, most notably in 2008, when P!nk claimed her first No. 1 single on the German sales chart with “So What.”
“It was a very special moment,” says Berger, now president/CEO of Sony Music International. “She came in that day to play for media and retail and that afternoon it was announced that ‘So What’ was No. 1. We awarded her with the surprise gift of a chain saw because that tool had been featured in the video.”
While P!nk has graduated from chain saws to other props in her videos and stage shows, in the view of the executives at her record company, two things have remained constant: her evolving talent and innate sense of who she is musically.
“It really all comes down to P!nk,” Berger says. “She’s one of the hardest-working stars in the entire music business, an honest person with an amazing voice who stays loyal to her fans while taking things to the next level.”
RCA Records president/COO Tom Corson echoes that view: “She’s a highly focused, high-energy force of nature. She has a great sense of where she fits in music and in the marketplace. She just knows her own brand and how to maximize it.”
Those qualities lie at the heart of the symbiotic — and successful — partnership among P!nk, manager Roger Davies, RCA and Sony Music International. And it’s all come together for the singer’s sixth studio album, “The Truth About Love.”
P!nk has reinforced her status as an international superstar thanks to a top-selling, radio-friendly, hit-fueled album and a headlining sellout tour. Her overseas popularity is now matched stateside — jump-started in part by her memorable 2010 Grammy Awards performance — while, as recently as 2007, she was a supporting act on Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveShow tour.
“The Truth About Love,” certified platinum by the RIAA, has netted P!nk several firsts, most notably her first No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 and a personal best in first-week sales.
The album also debuted at No. 1 in seven other countries, including Australia, Germany, Austria, Canada and Sweden. It has spun off several smash singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” “Try” and “Just Give Me a Reason.” Their success brings P!nk’s total Hot 100 top 10s to 14.
And, of course, there’s the sellout North America leg of P!nk’s “Truth About Love” tour, gaining coast-to-coast acclaim for her entertaining music and imaginative physicality.
Kicking off Feb. 13 in Phoenix, its first 25 stops included Dallas, Chicago, New York and Boston. Live Nation and P!nk later extended the tour (presented by CoverGirl) with a 34-stop second leg that began Oct. 10 in Oakland, Calif., and wraps Dec. 14 in Atlanta. Between April and September, the tour took P!nk from Ireland to Australia. All told, the world tour will encompass 140 shows in 13 countries.
“The Truth About Love” is P!nk’s first album on RCA. Longtime label LaFace was folded into RCA in 2011 as part of the consolidation of Arista, J Records and Jive. RCA’s Corson was at Arista when P!nk’s first LaFace release, “Can’t Take Me Home,” arrived in 2000. But he left shortly after to start J Records with Clive Davis.
“The U.S. has finally caught up with the international markets,” says Corson, who adds that it was a combination of factors that helped close the gap. “She’s hit a nerve in the American marketplace with great music, great timing and a fully integrated, rock-solid marketing strategy. It’s been a great partnership, and we’re not done.”
It all started with a promotional tour last fall to coincide with the Sept. 18 release of “The Truth About Love.”f Those elements included the debut of a new song at MTV’s Video Music Awards (Sept. 6), an appearance on “Today” the morning of the album’s release and another at Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio Festival (Sept. 22). Also in the mix: promotional runs across Europe and Australia followed by a performance at the American Music Awards last December.
P!nk also signed on with two new brand partners. Named CoverGirl’s new face last August, the singer teamed with Target to present a deluxe edition of “The Truth About Love.” Featuring four exclusive studio tracks, the deluxe set was promoted in a custom commercial starring P!nk.
“We’ve had a long-term and successful relationship with Target and many of our artists, with P!nk being one of the most recent,” Corson says. “And CoverGirl was a broader brand build-out for her — a look she didn’t have before. That’s what artists need to do these days: They need multiple looks and brand alliances that make sense.”
On the international front, Sony’s Berger points out that one of the biggest secrets to P!nk’s success is the fact that “radio loves her. You can always bank on fantastic singles with her. She’s one of the few artists with albums that are five to seven singles deep.”
As a result, Berger says the international strategy involves launching her “like a blockbuster movie,” hitting radio, TV, print, online, billboards, buses and taxis. Another secret to her international success? Spending time performing in various overseas markets, which accounts for her phenomenal following in Australia, where she lived for three months during her tour to support the “Funhouse” album.
According to Berger, Germany is her next-biggest market outside of Australia, where she has sold nearly 10 million albums, according to Sony Music Australia. She also has achieved multiplatinum sales in New Zealand, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands.
“And platinum everywhere else you can think of,” Berger adds. “Once you get fans in many of these countries, they stay loyal such as they do in Australia and Germany. That’s part of the reason why she is having major success internationally.”
And that, in turn, has helped broaden her fan base across all demographics both stateside and internationally.
“Go to a P!nk concert and witness it,” Berger says. “She literally speaks to everybody: from old to young, female to male, hip to mainstream. People respond to her realness and are incredibly loyal to her. All of that helps makes her a huge single- and album-selling artist.”
Both Berger and Corson credit management as a crucial element in P!nk’s strategy. Industry veteran Davies, who has worked with Tina Turner, Cher, Sade and Janet Jackson, has been “incredibly experienced, responsive and clear in what he wants and doesn’t want,” Berger says.
Corson concurs, noting that the manager is “so critical” in driving what needs to be a “holistic” partnership. “You’ve got to work hard to be on the same page, to be idea- and opportunity-driven but professional enough to know what not to do,” he says. “That’s what helps make everything and everyone come into play in that ecosystem.”
One new promotional partner, Epix, will premiere a special broadcast of P!nk’s “Truth About Love” tour on Dec. 7. And as her singles continue to chart and her album keeps selling, the artist is prepping for her upcoming Grammy Awards performance on Jan. 26.
“P!nk is just a winner, pure and simple,” Corson adds. “And she’s going to keep winning.”