A few weeks ago, NBC announced a new feature: the NBC Artists in Residence Program. Sounds fancy, but ultimately it’s just a shiny name for an exclusive promotional deal they signed with Jon Bon Jovi. The artist himself attributes the decision to the “shrinking media environment,” a phrase that he was applying to dwindling audiences but which could be just as appropriately applied to the nature of media conglomeration.
So what does it mean to be a conglomerate’s Artist in Residence? Essentially, NBC-Universal has signed an exclusivity agreement with the musician, an agreement that guarantees exposure across several conglomerate holdings and prevents Bon Jovi from plugging his forthcoming (Nov. 10) album anywhere else for two months. As Artist in Residence, Bon Jovi has already appeared on The Today Show, and will also appear on The Tonight Show, The Jay Leno Show, Saturday Night Live, and The NBC Nightly News (among other appearances, including a “The More You Know” spot). There will even be a head-scratching appearance on Bravo’s Inside the Actor’s Studio, where the artist will talk about the history of his band and his scant film appearances.
Bon Jovi’s music manager, Jack Rovner, came up with the idea, and the decision to turn to NBC could be attributed to a number of factors. On the surface, the choice makes sense–although currently in fourth place among broadcasters, most of the series on which Bon Jovi will be appearing are still the leaders in their category. And although it certainly doesn’t win its time slot, it’s easier for musicians to arrange logical appearances on The Jay Leno Show than to arrange logical appearances on scripted series. (Mind you, that hasn’t stopped a lot of series from writing in clunky promotional opportunities.) Another, perhaps more cynical but ultimately more logical, explanation for Jon Bon Jovi’s choice relates to conglomerate holdings–Bon Jovi is signed to Universal Music Group, a label owned by Vivendi and part of NBC-U.
It’s easy to be snarky about actions like this. After all, the title Artist in Residence seems a bit lofty when applied to such an obvious promotional scheme. Not to mention the fact that neither Bon Jovi nor NBC seem to be the sexiest media properties out there right now. But only time will tell whether Bon Jovi’s gamble will pay off for either the musician or the conglomerate. It’s hard to imagine the scheme will truly benefit either, but there’s no question that NBC is willing to try new strategies to generate ratings. *ahem*JayLeno*ahem*