It has been confirmed. Rihanna teamed up with Chris Brown — musically — for a track called “Nobodies Business” on her upcoming album, Unapologetic. The album also features collaborations with Eminem, Future and Mikky Ekko. It is set for release on Nov. 19.
So is “Nobodies Business” a good business move? Or will it backfire? We asked a few music industry pros what they thought.
Lee Cadena, owner of Lee Cadena Management, has been in the business for more than two decades, so he has seen his share of artist controversy. “As an artist manager with a background in marketing/promotions and PR, I can tell you the Rihanna/Chris Brown situation makes for public voyeurism, conversation and scrutiny… all of which equals sales. It pushes tweets, Facebook postings and tickles all social media platforms, which from a business standpoint is great,” says Cadena, who has worked with the likes of Teena Marie, Snoop Dogg, and Mary J. Blige.
Radio producer/personality Portia Kirkland agrees. “There’s music and then there’s the business. As a music marketer, you think hits, sales, synergy, creativity, but also free expression. Both Rihanna and Chris Brown are highly talented and I believe can create great music together,” she points out.
Loyal fans of both will probably read a message in the music, looking for a deeper meaning from the song. “I don’t see the collaboration disturbing the fan base unless it says ‘we haven’t grown; we haven’t healed; and we are the same couple that we were three years ago’,” Kirkland, who has also worked at 1017 Brick Squad where she handled marketing for French Montana, Nicki Minaj, Waka Flocka, points out. “Their collaboration should be deeper than just having a hot record. I think Rihanna and Chris should send a message to their fans that ‘we’re human, we’ve learned our lesson; and moving forward in a healthier space.’ Music is a powerful platform and Rihanna and Chris should use it to highlight their growth and healing. That’s what classic hits and strong brands are made of — life’s lessons, second chances and change.”
The boldness of the move also continues with the philosophy of Rihanna’s brand—one of a daring and independent artist. “[I]t will work to solidify her independent and unpredictable persona. I think it’s a good idea because she should not let the public guide or determine her individual choices in life,” notes former record company executive Jackie Rhinehart, who is CEO and president of entertainment marketing firm Organic Soul Marketing. “That plus sex – implied– will sell, sell, sell!”
At the end of the day, however, the music still has to be good. A bad song, no matter how intriguing won’t have staying power. “The controversy may work in the moment and drive people to the record, but is the music good enough for consumers to purchase ten years from now?” says Cadena. “Building a career on quality music is key for catalog sales, which is what you want as an artist. Will it be considered a classic? Doubtful, but only time will tell. Until then, Rihanna… keep ya’ dukes up.”