Janet Jackson’s latest album Unbreakable is the best work she has put out in almost two decades. Critics, who weren’t kind about Jackson’s previous three releases, hailed Unbreakable as a return to form. Consequence of Sound was one of the sources that praised the album.
“Unbreakable ends perhaps a bit too tidily with ‘Well Traveled’ and ‘Gon B’ Alright,’ the latter a gospel-flavored anthem in the key of Sly and the Family Stone. But they barely dent her best effort since The Velvet Rope.”
Unfortunately, Janet Jackson has encountered trouble trying to convince the general public to buy the album. That shouldn’t be a big deal; older artists aren’t supported by radio and, therefore, don’t have the audience they used to when it comes to selling records. However, they have built up huge fan bases so they can sell out huge concert arenas all across the world.
Many believe Janet Jackson has taken her album selling techniques to a whole new level of desperation. The week Ms. Jackson debuted at No. 1, Hits Daily Double raised some issues.
“Janet Jackson’s chart-topper this week was aided by the 30k units that were part of a ticket bundle for her tour, which explains why the album sold so well with virtually no airplay. The veteran artist and her wealthy husband, fashion mogul Wissam Al Mana, who financed the recording and underwrote her Rhythm Nation label, had shopped the album to the majors but got nary a nibble, enabling BMG to pick it up,” the article claimed.
It only got worse from there. Once the album started tumbling off the charts, a copy of Unbreakable was being given away with the sale of every single t-shirt and other concert souvenirs. Sales were reported as part of a bundle, which allowed the album to climb back up the charts, but several allegedly claimed there was no increase in the original price of the t-shirts. Some fans weren’t intending to buy Unbreakable and were surprised about receiving a “free” CD.
“@JanetJackson Bought a tshirt at the #unbreakablesantabarbara show tonight got a free CD,” tweeted Chef TK Kyle.
However, others who received the free Unbreakable CD were angry Janet Jackson unfairly used them to help her CD chart.
“I attended a show of hers at the Chicago Theater and bought a t-shirt. I didn’t want a copy of her CD. But it was given to me anyway. That’s all fine, but then the guy managing the souvenir stand admitted that the entire purpose of giving fans free CDs was so Janet’s album could climb back up the charts. I left in disbelief, but did research and found out this is all true,” wrote an alleged fan on Change.org, petitioning for Billboard to stop allowing chart manipulation tactics.
Then, when that didn’t work, music industry site Showbiz411 reported that Janet Jackson now started giving away free CDs with the purchase of Uber rides. So, one wonders how an album charts if it is given away for free? It appears, according to Janet Jackson’s website, Uber charges a $3.49 “service fee.” The $3.49 service charge is just enough money for Billboard to count the exchange as an album sale. It’s a desperate and dirty tactic that should be condemned not only from Billboard, but the record industry as a whole.
Over the years, Billboard has been charged with helping artists cheat the music charts, although there has been no actual proof of this. However, there is a lot of hearsay and Billboard may want to speak out about Janet Jackson’s marketing campaign in order to clear up any issues people have.
Perhaps Janet Jackson should learn from Adele, Taylor Swift, or Beyoncé, all whose recent albums sold millions just by existing. There were no special tricks employed to sell these albums and all have gone on to become classics Unbreakable could go on to sell a lot of copies, but there will always be a small asterisk mark next to the album due to the questionable ways it has been sold.
[Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images Entertainment]