Big push for ‘Selena’ disc

EMI Latin is releasing the soundtrack to the highly anticipated Warner Bros film “Selena,” the story of the slain Tejano singer whose career was just beginning to cross over to pop audiences.

While soundtrack offerings are seemingly a dime a dozen theses days, what separates the “Selena” disc from the rest is that EMI Latin will back the bow with the industry’s most aggressive and comprehensive marketing cam-paign, which incorporates promotional tie-ins with Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Bank One.

The release also marks the first time a Latin label will market an English-language album, so EMI has something to prove.

Success in this untested arena could lead to the Latin arm’s weighing in on English-language pop releases offered by other labels within the EMI family.

EMI Latin execs, under the aegis of label prexy/CEO Jose Behar, have left no marketing stone unturned when it comes to releasing the “Selena” soundtrack.

The bow will be worked at both Spanish- and English-language radio with an eye to fulfilling the late Selena’s dream of becoming a full-fledged crossover artist, something that was begun with the 1995 album “Dreaming of You,” which was released four months after her death. The disc has sold more than 3 million copies in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

The Warner Bros. film, starring Jennifer Lopez and Edward James Olmos, has been testing through the roof with both Anglo and Hispanic audiences, according to studio execs. The pic will bow March 21.

The soundtrack, composed of material recorded between 1990 and 1995, will feature original cuts by Selena, including several songs that have never been released.

Of the 12 songs on the album, 10 will be in English, including the disc’s first single, a melding of the disco-era nuggets “Last Dance,” “The Hustle” and “On the Radio.” The disc will be released on March 11.

“We have to make sure that this album appeals to both her current fan base and those fans who were just getting to know her music with (the last album),” Behar told Daily Variety. “And to do for Selena what she cannot do for herself: that is, to become a critically acclaimed and a well-respected artist among both Anglo and Hispanic audiences.”

EMI execs have laid a foundation for the release that any major label pop star would envy, including the first-ever deal to put Selena’s image on checks offered by Bank One, one of the midwest’s largest financial institutions. The bank will also use radio spots to promote its association.

Budweiser and Coke have signed on to offer end-cap displays in more than 10,000 retail outlets that will feature Selena, tout the album and offer prizes and giveaways.

The two beverage giants, which have a product placement presence in the Gregory Nava-helmed film, will also back their association with an aggressive slate of media buys, including music-heavy radio spots.

Major national retailers such as WalMart and Best Buy, among others, will also offer displays, and a tie-in is in the works with Musicland to offer instant discounts on “Selena” discs.

Retailers are expecting a large turnout for the disc, as more than 7.5 million copies of Selena’s repertoire have been sold.

Just as Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., was active in the production of the film by serving as an adviser, he was active in the release of the soundtrack.

When he previewed the disc to EMI execs at a corporate retreat in Laguna Beach earlier this month, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as he also debuted the film’s trailer and a video of Selena performing the disc’s first single.

“The album is sensational,” Quintanilla said. “Like the film, the album has drama, humor and sadness.”

The video footage was culled from a live concert held at the Houston Astrodome a month before Selena’s death. The tune is particularly timely in view of the resurgence of dance music on radio and MTV.

“She was the label’s first artist, so we have a very special sense of commitment and family that forces us to go beyond the call of duty in releasing this album,” said Behar, who signed Selena in 1989 and has had a close relation-ship with her family ever since. “But it’s not about selling just this record, its about continuing her legacy, (which) happens every time a song of hers becomes a hit.”

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