There were a number of factors that helped P!nk land a No. 1 album this week, from a concert ticket/album sale redemption promotion to the music itself. But the artist had a third trick up her sleeve that could help sustain her going forward: she went on a world tour of streaming-company offices.
“She spent a lot of time going into Spotify offices around the world — literally, she went into Spotify offices in Berlin, in London, in New York, in Los Angeles. We also did the same for Apple Music,” John Fleckenstein, evp of P!nk’s RCA label, tells Billboard. “She really took the time to make sure that she went in and met with these accounts and established herself with them to make sure they understand.”
P!nk’s partnership with Apple Music included a 34-minute documentary around the recording of Beautiful Trauma, which premiered exclusively on the service on the album’s release date and features a collage of candid interviews and behind-the-scenes studio footage.
While artists have long made extensive rounds at radio stations in hopes of maximizing their airplay, acts are now increasingly touring streaming offices instead. A Spotify rep tells Billboard that it is now standard practice not only for artists to visit the company’s offices, but also for Spotify teams to spend time with artists in the studio, in order to get richer context around their music and creative process.
Beautiful Trauma‘s SEA start was a third of the streaming sum posted by rapper Gucci Mane’s Mr. Davis (46,000 SEA units), which bowed at No. 2 on the new Billboard 200. Hip-hop albums tend to be streaming superstars, regularly pulling in large streaming bows.
Still, Beautiful Trauma‘s SEA bow was larger than the first week streaming debuts of 2017 pop albums by the likes of Fifth Harmony’s self-titled album and Miley Cyrus’ Younger Now (10,000), but smaller than Demi Lovato’s Tell Me You Love Me (19,000), and Kesha’s Rainbow (19,000).
Winning the support of streaming services is increasingly paying off for artists as their first-week buzz dies down. It’s particularly important for artists like P!nk, since pop albums haven’t been racking up huge streaming numbers in today’s hip-hop-dominated universe. Many of P!nk’s diehard fans, meanwhile, grew up in the CD and download eras. Fleckenstein says that the need to appeal to a younger streaming audience did not trickle down into P!nk’s creative output itself, but rather was simply a marketing imperative of the times.
“There’s this notion that you just put records out and all this stuff happens, but the reality is that it’s a really competitive marketplace out there,” says Fleckenstein. “Most of the time, when records look like they ‘just happened,’ there was a considerable amount of planning and attention that went into making them come out the way they did.”
In fact, P!nk’s thorough campaign sets an example for other pop stars — whether peers of P!nk or younger, emerging acts — who are looking both to nurture long-term relationships and to make a bigger splash in an increasingly crowded music market. “What I would recommend to new artists that are just starting out is to establish a great team, communicate openly about what your ambitions are and what your plan is, and then carry it out,” says Fleckenstein. “Don’t take anything for granted, and really focus on setting things up.”