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|02-15-2004, 10:11 PM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 02, 2003
Bee headed for Superstardom
Beyonce headed for superstardom
Beyoncé's career is moving in only one direction: straight up. Her five wins and her two electrifying performances during the Feb. 8 Grammy Awards at the Staples Center here were the latest blasts in her rise as a multimedia star.
Father/manager Mathew Knowles predicts that five years from now, Beyoncé will be a "triple threat in music, movies and corporate endorsements."
"It girl' is overused," Essence Magazine arts and entertainment editor Cori Murray says. "But she has it: vocal talent, a gifted songwriter and performer, sexy and sassy, plus a humble spirit." With five Destiny's Child albums, her successful solo project, movie roles in "Austin Powers: Goldmember" and "The Fighting Temptations" and a slew of high-profile endorsement deals, she's clearly on her way to super-stardom.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING
Beyonce's story began more than a decade before the Grammys.
She launched her singing career with Houston-based Destiny's Child when she and girlfriend LaTavia Roberson teamed up in 1990, taking the group's name from a passage in the Book of Isaiah. The duo became a trio in 1992 when Kelly Rowland joined; a year later, LeToya Luckett signed on. In 1997, the group inked a deal with Columbia Records.
Since the 1998 release of its self-titled debut, the group has enjoyed an enviable spate of chart and sales success, including its first No. 1 R&B hit, "No, No, No Part 2."
In 2000, "Say My Name," spun off from the group's 1999, eight-times platinum sophomore set, "The Writing's on the Wall," captured two Grammys.
Roberson and Luckett were replaced by Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin after challenging Mathew Knowles' managerial control. They later sued their former bandmates and Knowles. Five months later, Franklin split, leaving Destiny's Child as the trio it is today.
In October 2000, the group spent 11 weeks at No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 with the smash "Independent Women Part 1" from the "Charlie's Angels" soundtrack.
In 2001, on the group's third album -- the four-times platinum "Survivor" -- Beyonce took a more hands-on approach in writing and producing the material on the set, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The title track won Destiny's Child another Grammy.
Destiny's Child's albums have sold 11.8 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.
In July 2003, Beyonce released her debut solo album, "Dangerously in Love," which also debuted at No. 1.
The album's first two singles took up residence in the penthouse of the Hot 100: "Crazy in Love," featuring Jay-Z, spent eight weeks at No. 1, while "Baby Boy," featuring Sean Paul, logged nine weeks in the top slot. Current single "Me, Myself & I" is now No. 4.
In the United States, the album has sold 2.8 million units since its release, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It is at No. 23 on the Billboard 200. (The expected sales jump from the Grammys will be reflected in sales data issued next Wednesday.)
While thrilled with the album's sales, Columbia Records Group president Will Botwin admits that piracy has stunted the project. "It's absolutely a factor for her and for any really popular artist."
SOMETHING TO PROVE
The first two singles verified her commercial viability as a solo artist, but Beyonce had something else she wanted to prove: that she could really sing.
Therefore, Botwin says "a conscious decision" was made to showcase her vocals.
The midtempo "Me, Myself & I" was chosen as the third single. Next came her critically acclaimed performance of the national anthem at the Super Bowl and the Grammy performances.
"She felt she needed to show that side of herself," Botwin says. "Everyone knew she could move. With the choice of 'Me, Myself & I' and the TV appearances, we established the other side."
The Grammy Awards for her solo album add artistic credibility to her resume. With the five wins, she tied Norah Jones and Alicia Keys for the second-largest number of Grammy victories in one evening by a female. (Lauryn Hill is tops, with six.)
"The wins say she's a credible artist and that the album is validated," Botwin says.
But he stresses that her performances, one in a show-opening medley with Prince and the other a big production number of the "Dangerously in Love" title track, have given her just as much of a boost.
The exposure also has given the record -- which has sold close to 6 million worldwide, according to Sony -- an additional sales boost.
"We've had huge reorders since the show," Botwin says.
BEYONCE THE BRAND
Another side of Beyonce is her role as a multimillion-dollar pitchwoman.
"She's in a position to pick and choose some of the best deals out there," says Rick Fish, senior VP of Signature Networks, a merchandising and marketing company whose clients include Madonna and Jessica Simpson.
"She's the entrance to the dance," says Jack Feuer, national news editor for Billboard sister publication AdWeek. "She has glamour, a youthful exuberance and a love of life. She's superbly talented and brings an enthusiasm to any line that would appeal to a younger buyer."
Beyonce has been part of a number of product campaigns, including for L'Oreal. Matthew Knowles says tie-ins were part of the strategy he mapped out three years ago, when each member of Destiny's Child began work on a solo album.
"We just don't depend on the record," Knowles says. "We also depend on a corporate relationship to drive the marketing, as well as film and TV."
Beyonce is in the midst of a multi-year deal with Pepsi. She represents the soft drink in the United Kingdom, as well as being featured in Pepsi's iTunes 100 Million Song Giveaway.
"You couldn't ask for a bigger multitalented artist right now," says Scott Parker, senior marketing manager for Pepsi's music group division.
Pepsi and Knowles have also inked a new domestic endorsement deal for Destiny's Child. The campaign will be tied to the group's new album.
In January, Beyonce announced a tie in with Estee Lauder-owned Tommy Hilfiger Toiletries (THT) to develop a perfume line.
The licensing deal with THT is something that Knowles initially passed on. "We were trying to decide if she should do her own line or a licensing agreement," he says. "When we looked at the time and dollar amount of one versus the other and the Estee Lauder name, we decided to go with the license relationship." The fragrance debuts this summer.
Beyonce and her mother, Tina, have also designed a clothing line, A Touch of Couture, that bows later this year. The line, which will have a charity tie-in, will run the gamut, from children's wear to big-ticket items.
In considering deals for Beyonce or Destiny's Child, Knowles shies away from alcohol and cigarette endorsements.
"From day one, our approach has been, 'Who's our customer?"' Knowles says. "For Destiny's Child, it's females 13-30, and we try to align ourselves with those products.
"Beyonce has a much larger male customer base than Destiny's Child, 16-50," he says. "So she's a little more flexible in terms of products."
Beyonce's image ensures the offers will keep coming. Although she has a bit of an edge through her secretive relationship with boyfriend rapper Jay-Z, she has been able to avoid scandalous headlines.
Beyonce's positive image was key in the Hilfiger deal, according to THT executive director Robin Mason.
"We absolutely love that she's scandal-free. Being part of Estee Lauder and Tommy Hilfiger, it's all about that good, clean, American fun. She's able to pull that off," he says.
A slew of sponsors have signed on for Beyonce's upcoming Ladies First tour with Alicia Keys and Missy Elliott, including key sponsor Verizon.
Beyonce is co-sponsored on the five-week tour, which starts March 12, by Steve Madden and L'Oreal.
Clear Channel Entertainment VP of touring Brad Wavra thinks the tour's three-headliner concept is a slam-dunk. It will be Beyonce's first major U.S. tour as a solo artist.
After the tour, Beyonce returns to the studio for a new Destiny's Child album that's slated for a September release.
Knowles says that to keep each member's solo career thriving, he envisions releasing four singles from the project: one Destiny's Child uptempo club song and solo cuts from each of the members.
Then will come a 100-city Destiny's Child tour.
"After that, you probably won't see Destiny's Child for five years," Knowles says. "There will be heavy pursuit of TV and film careers and their solo record careers."
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