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Monday, August 24, 2015

Bon Jovi Leaves Label After 32 Years; Here's What Jon Bon Jovi Should Do Next

In what was one of the longest label marriages in music history, Bon Jovi and Mercury Records have parted ways. This makes Bon Jovi the biggest band—they were No. 4 on Forbes 2014 list of The World’s Highest-Paid Musicians— to be a free agent.

Billboard broke the news earlier today that the group, which was on the label for 32 years, said goodbye and it sounds like it was not without some acrimony on band namesake Jon Bon Jovi’s part.
On Burning Bridges, an album the band released yesterday, the title track contains the following lyrics: “After 30 years of loyalty/they let you dig the grave/now maybe you can learn to sing or strum along/Well I’ll give you half the publishing/You’re why I wrote this song.”  Bon Jovi told Billboard, “This hits it right in the head and tells you what happened. Listen to the lyrics because it explains exactly what happened. And that’s that.” (Bon Jovi has referred to the project as a “fan album,” since it contains primarily previously unreleased material, as well as radio single, “We Don’t Run,” which is one of the few tracks written expressly for the project.)
To be sure, Bon Jovi had been on Mercury for the duration of its major label career, but that doesn’t mean there had been any consistency in those 32 years as Mercury changed hands and the band toiled under a staggering number of different label chiefs.
I interviewed Jon Bon Jovi for the first time in 1992 and through the years, he’s consistently been one of the smartest, shrewdest businessmen, not just musician, out there. The band has good managers, but Jon (I’m breaking journalistic form and using his first name just for the sake of being able to tell him and the band Bon Jovi apart) always had a firm hand on the decisions and was well versed in label politics (and sports–he led a Toronto group that made a losing bid for the Buffalo Bills last year). I remember an interview several years ago where he counted how many different label heads the band had recorded under and he seemed tired of having to break them in. After all, this was a band that made Mercury millions of dollars, especially from the mid-80s to the mid-90s when it released albums Slippery When Wet, New Jersey, and Keep the Faith. Worldwide, the band has sold more than 100 million albums.
The band, which split with founding guitarist Richie Sambora in 2013, is set to tour Southeast Asia starting Sept. 11 in Jakarta  and then will have more music and more touring in 2016.
So what should Bon Jovi do next ? Not sign with another long term label contract for one thing. Even if the band’s album sales aren’t what they once were, Bon Jovi remains one of the biggest touring acts in the world. In 2013, the group had the top grossing tour of the year, bringing in $259.5 million and beating the likes of Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen,Taylor Swift and Elton John, according to  Pollstar. They dropped to No. 23 last year, but that was because they only played nine shows,according to Billboard. They are, like the Rolling Stones, U2, Paul McCartney and Swift, able to fill venues in all corners of the world and there aren’t many other acts that have that kind of global stature.
Like many acts, Bon Jovi makes the majority of its money on the road. And while there’s no doubt that Jon wants more radio success- you don’t get to be at his level without being very competitive— the band’s last song to chart in the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 was “(You Want To) Make A Memory,” which peaked at No. 27 in 2007. The only reason an act with this kind of history and worldwide recognition needs to be on a major record company is to to take advantage of a label’s promotion staff, but that hasn’t been happening for the band so Bon Jovi should self-release their albums. Sure, the album sales may dwindle without the major marketing machinery behind them, but Bon Jovi will keep a much bigger percentage of each record sold and the band can hire an indie promo team to work tunes to radio.  Plus, the band reportedly signed with Irving Azoff for management in April and , as mega-manager Azoff has proved with The Eagles, he knows how to keep the money pouring in for his acts.  They would be foolish to sign with another label when, at this point, Jon has forgotten more about how the music industry works than most label heads will ever know, so he doesn’t need any more of their bad medicine.
We’ve reached out to the head of Mercury and will update if we get a response.


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I am and always have been a Bon Jovi fan. This blog is just my obsession taken a step further, my imagination in high gear if you will. I love to read and decided to see what would happen when I took that love of the written word and ramped it up a bit.

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