We gave it a B-
The following is a reprint of a letter mailed recently to Sony Music stockholders. We can’t vouch for its authenticity, but the manila envelope obtained by ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY looked real enough to us!
March 3, 1997
To: Stockholders From: Sony Music Entertainment Re: Aerosmith
Dear Valued Investors:
Ever since Sony’s $30 million reacquisition of the product line known as ”Aerosmith,” undertaken in 1993, many of our loyal investors have questioned the allocation of corporate funds toward such an aging account. More than anyone, we are aware of the unstable music-profitability climate detailed in the previous quarterly report (see page 155, ”Those Big Albums Nobody Bought”).
We are also sensitive to your apprehensions regarding the troubled launch of Aerosmith’s latest product and all the talk of aborted recording sessions and drug use. To any doubters, we say: ”Dream on!” We are proud to introduce the first results of the renewed Aerosmith-Sony alliance, Nine Lives. We at Sony feel this disc is a far better investment than any bank CD, and we have taken steps to insure the continued market viability of the product. So please ”walk this way” through our six-point plan for reaping the most dividends from your Aerosmith dollar!
KNOW YOUR CHANGING MARKET. Research into the recent lackluster performance of the Pearl Jam and R.E.M. lines turned up one vital fact: Both firms have begun to look and sound somewhat adult. To avoid such marketing miscalculations, Nine Lives has been devised with the most desired disposable-income unit — the teenager — in mind. Filled with beefy, arena-designed droolers, Nine Lives has been formulated to sound rawer, lewder, and younger than any Aerosmith commodity this decade. Just listen to those slobbering guitars! Equally important, the compositions have been expressly conceived for the sexually stimulated adolescent. To quote lead asset Steven Tyler, these songs are about falling for the ”right dress on the wrong girl” — situations any high schooler can understand. Need we say more about ”Pink” than its title suggests? Put any fears of the band member’s advanced ages to rest — this investment has plenty of time to mature!
KNOW YOUR FEMALE MARKET. Further research indicates that the Aerosmith line most appeals to women in the preferred 15-30 demographic when the band invests in so-called ”power ballads.” On ”Hole in My Soul” and ”Fallen Angels,” Nine Lives continues the tradition of multi-format successes like ”Angel.”
AIM GLOBAL. We at Sony are ever aware of the financial potential of the international marketplace. Just ask another notable corporate commodity, the Michael Jackson. To ensure Aerosmith’s continuing worldwide appeal, the band has graciously included ”Taste of India,” which couples traditional Asian instruments with point No. 1 of our strategy (e.g., lines like ”Her yin and yang/Is just the thing”). We feel confident that performance-primed ditties like these will turn the entire world into an all-night Delhi!
INVEST IN NEW TECHNOLOGY. Aerosmith may not be computer ”nerds,” but this segment of the demographic is clearly about to yield a high rate of return. Hence ”Something’s Gotta Give,” which astutely clicks into today’s hot cyberculture scene. Should rhymes like ”If love that seemed to fall from grace/Was sitting on your interface” not turn America Online on, we hereby unplug!
STAY ON TOP OF MARKET NEWS. In the past year, drugs have become the scourge of the music industry. Don’t worry — Aerosmith are primed and ready to join in on the discussion! The raucous ”The Farm” features ultra-topical references to needles and Prozac, while ”Crash” includes coy references to narcotics (”doin’ tons of colon blow”). In focus groups, the song’s modern ambiance also scored well with younger fans of the ”grunge rock.”
RECRUIT MARKET-PROVEN ADVISERS. No portfolio should be without seasoned consultants. Nine Lives features new, yet familiar, contributions from market-savvy professionals: songwriter Glen Ballard (whose work with Alanis Morissette has resulted in an inordinately profitable investment for the Time-Warner conglomerate); songwriter Desmond Child (who has provided capital for Bon Jovi, Michael Bolton, etc.); and producer Kevin Shirley of the Sony assets Journey and silverchair. Nine Lives‘ first byproduct, ”Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees),” was cowritten by Ballard and consolidates two tactics outlined earlier: sniggering lyrics and a horn-driven arrangement that duplicates the bull-market strength of ”Dude (Looks Like a Lady).” This ”dude” sounds like a whammy!
We at Sony hope this low-risk, high-return plan is comforting to our valued stockholders. We are sure you will agree that your funds have been wisely invested to refine the Aerosmith product line for maximum performance. Naturally, we expect such non-team players as ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY to give the album a B- due to the conservative nature of Lives‘ deposits in the creativity bank. But our backers needn’t be concerned. To put it in the terminology of the assets themselves, Aerosmith are ”back in the saddle” and raring to deliver high-yield rock!
Sincerely, Your friends at Sony