MTV’s VJ power is what Sony Music relied on to launch Taiwan singer Coco Lee throughout Asia, and the label hopes this exposure will help leverage the singer into the U.S. market this month.
Mishal Varma, senior director of programming and talent and artist relations for MTV Asia, was already familiar with Lee’s Mandarin songs when Sony approached programmers with her English album, which will be released State-side by Epic Records. Sony wanted to launch Lee in Asia before she hit the U.S. market, and MTV Asia was happy to come on-board as an international co-conspirator.
‘She’s Asian, she’s a great performer, and when we heard the English album, we decided to co-promote her,’ says Varma.
MTV Asia also collaborated with Andy Yavasis, Sony Music Asia’s VP of marketing, to help launch Ricky Martin in the region by singling him out for special shows. ‘If there’s an artist who needs more, we’ll create a platform. For example, we might highlight a debut artist on Artist of the Month. Or, as in the case of Ricky Martin, we made him a Hot Seat artist,’ says Varma. An artist featured on Hot Seat gets heavy rotation on the music net, in the realm of eight play times per day.
‘MTV broke Ricky Martin here in Asia before North America and other parts of the world woke up to him,’ says Yavasis. ‘I wanted Coco to be an Asian story too.’ He adds: ‘I saw this as an opportunity to take an Asian artist onto the international arena, by first making it happen in our own backyard.’ According to Yavasis, Sony’s target market for Coco is the 12 to 18 crowd.
MTV made Lee a Hot Seat artist in Korea and showcased the up-and-coming singer on Artist of the Month on its Mandarin station in November-after she won an award at the MTV Honours Awards. The video for the first song off the English album Just No Other Way aired exclusively on MTV Asia six times a day, and the MTV Asia Internet site featured Lee prominently.
In order to give her more rotation in Southeast Asia and India, Varma created a new format called the MTV ‘I Like Spot.’ In addition to appearances on regular shows, there were promotional spots and interviews with key regional VJs. ‘It was an endorsement. We are creating a window for the artist to help create a buzz for her.’
At press time, Sony was just starting to coordinate Coco’s State-side promotional push, which will likely include a major music press campaign for feature articles and TV interviews, as well as promotion on the Web.