Disco fever: BMG and A&P on Kylie's big lockdown album campaign

Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue releases her hotly-anticipated Disco album today – and, as you’d expect from a big Q4 album with a chart race on its hands, the campaign will start with a bang.

Minogue fires the first salvo in her battle with Little Mix this morning, with Radio 2’s Zoe Ball Breakfast Show broadcasting four live tracks from the BBC Radio Theatre in this morning’s show, as well as interviewing the star. Then Minogue’s Infinite Disco livestream extravaganza takes place tomorrow across four different timezones. The star appeared on the cover of Music Week's blockbuster Q4 special last month.

But it won’t all be plain sailing. Little Mix have a primetime TV appearance on Saturday night with their Little Mix The Search TV show and the current England-wide lockdown, imposed from yesterday, will likely hit Minogue’s always-impressive physical sales.

Yet the team at her label, BMG, and her management, A&P Artist Management, plan to pull out all the stops. Music Week caught up with BMG UK bosses Jamie Nelson (VP, A&R) and Gemma Reilly-Hammond (VP, UK marketing), plus Minogue’s co-manager Polly Bhowmik, for the inside track on what will be one of the most-watched campaigns of the year…

What are the challenges of releasing an album at a time like this?
Gemma Reilly-Hammond: “Well, out of the challenges come opportunities. Following on from Golden and Step Back In Time, two very successful No.1 albums, has given us a bigger and better platform to launch this from. We all know how streaming works now, and the always-on mentality of constantly coming with new material is really working to our advantage. Some of the streaming results we’re seeing are really encouraging, and way beyond what we had on Golden, so it’s lovely to see that progression. D2C business is thriving, we saw really good physical pre-orders out of D2C and Amazon is fairly buoyant. We’ve got a really strong retail, promo and advertising plan – and we’ve also got a very engaged artist. Maybe I’m blindly optimistic but I’m feeling confident going into this.”

Is it difficult to get the same promotional opportunities?
Polly Bhowmik: “Interestingly, the fact that during lockdown we can’t travel to so many places, means there’s a lot more you can do creatively when you’re delivering performances for TV. It has allowed the creative team to think outside the box, it’s offered opportunities in some ways to really bring the music to life.”

Jamie Nelson: “It’s fair to say that, when it comes to TV, we’re still managing to do the relevant moments. You’re doing it remotely, but we’re still managing to get those and it is opening up various other opportunities. We’ve got the opportunity to approach the campaign in a somewhat different way this time, which is very exciting. Kylie’s base is so intense in their love for her and you sense that community is very joined-up online. With people at home more than they would be normally, it crystalised that core launch period. You can really sense that wave of excitement coming back from her audience.”

Kylie's incredibly savvy, so she’s always willing to embrace new things

Gemma Reilly-Hammond, BMG

Some might have expected Kylie to stay in the Golden lane for another album…
JN: “It’s important to keep things moving forward. Kylie is the queen of reinvention and she’s done it plenty of times before, she’s very focused on the idea of entertaining and delivering music that’s going to stand out. Continually reframing the way she presents her music and who she is keeps the whole project feeling fresh and exciting.”

GRH: “Gone are the days of just releasing a new album! To have such a strong creative concept around the album, not just in terms of the music but the visual aspects to it as well, and constantly looking creatively at how to bring Disco to life, it adds lots of extra elements. It feels like a stronger campaign as a result of all that.”

How are things looking on streaming?
GRH: “We’re really pleased with the streaming results across the new repertoire and also to see her monthly listeners are way beyond where they were when we started. We’re really clear on best practice around Spotify, we’ve been regularly releasing music every four weeks and we’ve got remixes with really notable remixers in terms of pulling in some new audiences. It’s really satisfying to see such strong results coming out of the DSPs. That’s always going to be a challenge when you’ve got the physical-heavy artist – can you crack it? And the answer is, yes you can.”

PB: “With Golden that was a big part of the plan, to develop those relationships. We did the show with Spotify, the extra video with Apple and we’ve continued that because, whilst the physical market is obviously a big key market, we want to be developing the streaming.”

GRH: “She’s even stepped forth onto TikTok, which is good fun. The good thing about Kylie is, she’s incredibly savvy and she’s interested in market and industry development, so she’s always willing to embrace new things. She actually gets a lot of enjoyment out of it and it’s a real privilege to work with an artist like that. Because of her, you get a lot of opportunities in this new world – there are lots of super-exciting things being discussed because she’s Kylie and she’s amazing and people want to do things with her.”

* To read our recent Kylie Minogue cover story, click here. To subscribe to Music Week and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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