Edison Media Research has been engaged by a variety of music companies to help them with forecasting the success or failure of various projects.
One of the most compelling of these projects was a series of research studies performed for Maverick Records in 1999. The topic: Alanis Morissette’s follow-up album to her smash hit “Jagged Little Pill.”
“JLP” was one of the most dramatic successes in the history of recorded music. The American debut album by a little-known Canadian singer, its collection of compelling hit songs and the connection Alanis created with her audience made “Jagged Little Pill” the biggest selling album of the 1990s.
Maverick wanted to know how to set-up the follow-up album to maximize its performance. It hired Edison Media Research to help determine marketing plans and to project possible outcomes for the album.
We performed a variety of research projects, both quantitative and qualitative, and both before and after the release of the project, which ended up titled “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie.”
Our advance research was designed to determine the target market and appropriate vehicles for advertising and to project the expected sales for the album. We created a variety of projections depending on the variable of the number of radio hits and the extent of the marketing behind the project. Because of the nature of the business, we knew that Alanis had earned a “Free Pass” from radio and MTV– her first song would get massive airplay no matter what it was. We also knew that the marketing budget was pretty much fixed. Thus, we created sales projections from her having only that one hit up to five or more hits from “SFIJ.”
Our doomsday scenario for the album was if no songs achieved significant radio or MTV airplay after the first song (which ended up being the mid-sized hit “Thank You.”) Our projection: Three Million in sales. Sadly, we were dead on with this projection. There were no other hit songs on that album, and that’s all “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie” scanned.
One post-script: We projected that Maverick could have doubled the minimum sales projection merely by adding another Alanis song: “Uninvited”, which had appeared on the soundtrack album from a movie called “City of Angels.” Our research showed that less than 10% of those interested in a new Alanis album had bought “City of Angels.” However, Alanis and her management refused to pull one of the “non-hits” from the album and replace it with “Uninvited.” That artistic decision cost her, and Maverick, millions.