The Wedding Songs

Columbia, Modern Bride offer nuptial sampler

“Feelings” won’t be included on this album.

Columbia Records has teamed with Modern Bride magazine to offer “The Wedding Album,” a 15-song disc of tunes most likely to be played at wedding receptions. The album is intended as a buffet for prospective brides and grooms to sample songs for their nuptials.

Tunes such as Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer,” Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s chart-topper “Endless Love,” and Hall & Oates’ “Promise Ain’t Enough” — which was voted the No. 1 wedding song at the 1998 Great Bridal Expo — grace the disc, which bows in record stores nationwide beginning this week.

The disc will also give listeners voiceover instructions on how to win a free honeymoon, courtesy of Sandals Resorts and Air Jamaica, or how to win the use of a Chevy for a year.

The album will also be touted in several issues of Modern Bride, beginning with the August/September issue, which hits newsstands next week.

More than 350,000 copies of the magazine will also boast specially conceived samplers slipped into each issue that preview the music appearing on the “Wedding Album” disc. Readers will be teased with snippets of four songs in an effort to motivate them to buy the entire album.

The samplers will also contain songs from several of the label’s up-and-coming artists, such as Adam Cohen and Chantal Kreviazuk, in an effort to spark consumer interest in those acts, as well.

“Music plays such a significant role in a wedding and this album permits us to make an emotional connection with brides-to-be by offering them song suggestions for that important day,” David Santaniello, veep of special marketing for Columbia Records and the chief architect of the project, told Daily Variety. “Ultimately, no matter how many marketing angles we use, the music is going to sell the album. This (tie-in) hopefully distinguishes the album from the competitors’ products that are out there.”

The uniquely tailored program, which would cost the labels millions of dollars in marketing money if the elements were bought rather than incorporated into the promotion, reflects the overall industry tenor of trying to find ways to hawk wares directly to the consumer.

Rather than rely on traditional means such as radio airplay and expensive links with retailers, labels are increasingly undertaking such efforts that distinguish their wares above the industry clutter.

The program also reflects the industry shift to creating frontline compilation discs — albums that boast recent popular tunes and are sold at prices rivaling albums from superstar acts rather than at discounted prices.

Such compilation albums ensure that consumers get several songs per album they like, rather than the typical one or two hits on the latest disc from their favorite artist.

Frontline compilations have caught fire overseas, particularly in Europe, where sales of CD singles outpace those in the U.S. marketplace. Rather than get a pittance for a CD single, labels are creating compilations where the profits are greater.

The Modern Bride pact mirrors the recently launched courtship the publishing industry is having with the record industry, in an effort to tap the demographics shared by each sector. Adult contemporary music titan Windham Hill’s recent link with Red-book is indicative of this newfound alliance.

“Modern Bride has the audience, we have the music,” said Santaniello, who also orchestrated the highly successful Mother’s Day link last year with Julio Iglesias and Western Union, to hype the singer’s “Tango” album and which raised the industry bar on album/corporate tie-ins. “This (link) allows us to use both of our strengths to give this album a visibility it might not otherwise have.”

But the Modern Bride link is by far the most ambitious of the recent pacts and crosses several industries, such as airlines and automobiles.

Santaniello is expecting to get the ear of more than 700,000 readers in the 18-30 range next week when the issue with the sampler hits the street and reaches the targeted prime music-buying audience for whom Santaniello believes music is an integral part of life.

“Choosing the music to play at a wedding is one of the most personal wedding-planning decisions of all,” offers Stacy Morrison, editor-in-chief of Modern Bride, adding that the disc will encourage brides- and grooms-to-be to “choose music that tells the guests about you and your fiancee.”

Santaniello’s team will also have the support of more than 5,000 newsstands nationwide that will participate in the Modern Bride tie-in and will tout a contest through point-of-purchase displays. Entrants in the contest can win a free honeymoon at Sandals Resorts and airfare through Air Jamaica, to the all-inclusive vacation spot.

By getting the POP’s at newsstands, the label lands a presence at locations it would not typically enjoy. The contest will also be promoted in Modern Bride.

Displays at record stores heralding the disc will give Modern Bride a profile in more than 20,000 outlets where the mag would not normally be visible, and its association will be supplemented by a crosspromotion with ABC syndicated radio in over 100 markets over the next three weeks. WPLG radio in New York will also be involved.

Home electronics giant Circuit City and Columbia sister company Sony Electronics are also involved to boost consumer awareness of the disc through POP displays and by giving away camcorders, respectively.

The “Wedding Album” disc is not merely a gathering of classics. The insert also offers sound advice on how to select music at a wedding reception, whether to hire a live band or DJ and the contractual obligations of both.

“Before you make your final decision and book your reception entertainment, be sure the band, musicians or DJ are perfectly in tune with your needs,” the disc offers. “Most importantly, be sure that the details are worked out well in advance, so everything is in harmony for the big day.”