Virgin campaign trying to bring back music's singles

LOS ANGELES: As part of an effort to spark lagging retail music sales, Virgin Entertainment is mounting a campaign to revive a music format many thought was dead: the single.

LOS ANGELES: As part of an effort to spark lagging retail music sales, Virgin Entertainment is mounting a campaign to revive a music format many thought was dead: the single.

In addition to kicking off in-store promotions that include sales in the dedicated singles

sections in its 23 Megastores, the company is engaging in an extensive PR campaign with

the intent of showing record labels that singles are a viable way of selling music.

"Making singles a success in the US market is going to take a concerted effort from both labels and retailers," said Glen Ward, CEO of Virgin Entertainment Group, North America

The labels must provide quality titles, he added, while the retailers have to get behind their promotion.

Media coverage of the effort began with an April 25 story in The Wall Street Journal, and will continue with attention in Billboard and other trade publications, according to Krysty Walker, account supervisor at SJ Communications, a boutique that is agency of record for Virgin Entertainment.

The angle for music reporters, she said, is the novelty of the "Save the Single" campaign.

"This is a first," she said. "A retailer has never gone out of its way to save a format. Music reporters buy it because it's never been done."

Singles, once the most popular way of marketing pop music, have been dying a slow death for at least a decade, and seemed ready to go the way of eight-track cassette. But they are now being marketed as an inexpensive introduction to an artist.

The new promotion, which began on Valentine's Day with a twist on the word "singles," comes as sales of even full-length records are struggling against the growing popularity of music file-sharing services.

Sales picked up, however, after dating-game tie-in promotions. Happy with the demand it saw for titles like Madonna's American Life and Erasure's Solsbury Hill, Virgin decided to expand the campaign.

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