Sony to issue “Loving You” as ‘bridging single’ while preparing music video for official second single

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Following the success of the lead single, “Love Never Felt So Good”, Sony Music and The Estate of Michael Jackson have picked the track they’ll launch as the second worldwide single from the ‘XSCAPE’ album. The track will be serviced to radio stations around the world and a music video will be released on the official Michael Jackson VEVO channel to support the track. The current goal is to action the plan around mid-to-late August.

In the meantime Sony Music has decided to offer up “Loving You” as a ‘bridging single’. A bridging single is a song that is not officially considered to be a single, but is sent to radio stations in the hope they’ll give it some airtime and promote the album from which it comes. Bridging singles do not have music videos (some have low-budget lyric videos though) and are not supported by record label-funded advertising campaigns. Artists like Pink and Rihanna have had great success with bridging singles in the past, but a posthumous release is a bit more risky being that the artist is not alive to promote the track themselves.

Sony Music branches around the world will have the choice as to whether they service the track to local radio stations to tie audiences over until the next official single is ready for release. There will also be room for negotiation regarding possibly bridging with a track other than “Loving You”. “Chicago” is one track that was considered as an alternate option to bridge with, while “Slave To The Rhythm” is currently being used in some Asian markets.

The UK market is almost certain to receive “Loving You” before the second official single is released. Radio/showbiz identity Kevin Hughes recently tweeted that the track would hit the UK market on August 11. This could be even sooner as airplay for “Love Never Felt So Good” continues to taper off.

The concept of a bridging single has also been offered to markets other than the UK, including the U.S. and Australia, but there is a feeling of hesitance surrounding issuing a track to radio that will not be supported by an advertising campaign or music video.

Radio spins and streaming statistics are equally as important components in the overall success and longevity of singles as digital downloads. “Love Never Felt So Good” benefitted from massive streaming stats when the video featuring Jackson and Justin Timberlake hit VEVO. This, combined with strong iTunes sales thanks to heavy promotion from Timberlake himself, resulted in a huge jump on the charts and helped the track with its countdown radio presence as it cemented spots in the Top 20 in markets all around the world.

If a track does not catch on with radio audiences the label faces the likelihood of stations not wanting to take any additional singles in the future. For example, if “Loving You” is issued worldwide as a bridging single and fails to make an impact on radio it could mean the forthcoming official second single, with planned video and marketing campaign, may be rejected without consideration. That is a risk many countries are not willing to take, therefor will not be using bridging singles at all and will instead wait for the official second single to arrive.

As for which track the second single is, Sony are remaining tight-lipped. When asked by a reporter a number of weeks ago what the second single would be, Epic Records chief LA Reid said that the fans would be choosing the track. So far no official polls or surveys have been conducted, however I did run a poll here on regarding what fans would like to see released as the second single. Over 3,000 votes have been cast with “A Place With No Name” the most popular pick among Jackson fans. The results, as they currently stand, are below:

1. A Place With No Name (28% of votes)
2. Chicago (23%)
3. Slave to the Rhythm with (20%)
4. Loving You (12%)
5. Xscape (8%)
6. Do You Know Where Your Children Are (5%)
7. Blue Gangsta (3%)

A lot of effort is said to be going into the official second single from ‘XSCAPE’, with plans for the video already under way.

Despite there being no real promotion of ‘XSCAPE’ since the Billboard Awards on May 18, the album continues to sell at a steady rate. 15,000 copies were sold in the U.S. both this week and last, with 25,000 copies per week being sold in the two weeks before that. The album, which is currently in its eighth week on the market, is yet to drop out of the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and has sold 339,000 copies there in total. The album’s worldwide sales figures currently stand at 1 million copies sold.

If the album can maintain its presence on the charts for 6-8 more weeks, the second single may well inject a new lease of life into its sales figures. But 6-8 weeks is a long time in music and there is every chance the album will be off the charts completely by then. Sony might have left their run too late with this second single. Time will tell!

UPDATE: BBC Radio 2 in the UK officially added “Loving You” to their playlist on July 26, meaning the bridging single is now in effect and will remain so until the release of “A Place With No Name”.

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