Music biz braces for Lee distrib blitz

Disc release to coincide with reality debut

Tommy Lee will sidestep the traditional record label arrangements for the release of his next solo album, “Tommyland: The Ride,” which will be handled by Michigan-based record distrib Handelman Co.

Handelman has penciled in an August release for the disc to coincide with the airing of Lee’s reality show “Tommy Lee Goes to College” on NBC. The Peacock has not scheduled the skein in which Lee attends the U. of Nebraska and, among other campus activities, joins the marching band.

Handelman has met with large retailers such as Target to discuss the project and its retail goals, primarily to get the disc in stores priced at $10. By skipping a major label or distributor, Handelman believes it can reduce the wholesale cost of “Tommyland” and still leave room for a retailer to generate profits similar to those for releases from major labels.

Music that appears on “Tommyland” will be part of the NBC show, and Lee’s management has negotiated to get the album plugged during the final credits, said Paul Ignasinski, director of product placement analysis for Handelman. NBC is also in talks with VH1 to get the show a second run during the week between episodes.

“Tommy is his own best salesman,” said Ignasinski, who sees the drummer’s success with his autobiography last year and the current Motley Crue reunion tour as signs that he has a fervid and wide fan base. “We’re making sure to promote Tommy as a brand. The album crosses several genres — and we are trying to sell to Middle America here — but there is plenty of traditional hard rock on the album.”

“Tommyland: The Ride” features guest performances by such established artists as Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, Carl Bell of Fuel, Deryck Whibley of Sum 41, Butch Walker, Joel Madden of Good Charlotte and Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys. It is Lee’s third solo album.

Handelman also has partnered with third-party sales consultant Rocket Science to handle sales solicitation, retail marketing and retail account interaction activities.

Suggesting that the model could be implemented for other veteran acts, Ignasinski said “everything will be done on an artist-by-artist basis. With this we really got lucky because the Motley Crue reunion is so successful. This model could work for (established) artists across many genres. Maybe not at the expected unit sales level of Tommy Lee, but in avoiding traditional marketing plans that the artist doesn’t need.”

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