Justin Timberlake Sells Records Through Hard Work

Categories: Luke's Gospel
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Alex Izaguirre
Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke assesses a former boy band member's success.

Justin Timberlake really understands how to sell records. Last week, The 20/20 Experience, his first in seven years, debuted at the top of the Billboard charts. It's the best-selling album of 2013 so far, moving 968,000 units, and the 32-year-old R&B crooner did it by taking it back to the old school of entertainment. He went on a major publicity blitz before the album dropped March 19.

This young man, who had been focusing on his acting career, really put in the work to promote his new music. It began when he released the album's first hit single, "Suit & Tie," on Twitter in early February.

He followed up with performances during Super Bowl weekend and the Grammy Awards, and capped it off with a weeklong stint on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, a surprise show at South by Southwest, and a concert special on the CW. It also helped that his record label streamed The 20/20 Experience on iTunes and released an exclusive edition at Target that includes a couple of bonus tracks.

Everything Timberlake has done is how an artist is supposed to market a new record. He has to do press junkets, host listening parties, and perform the hell out of new songs at nightclubs and concerts for radio stations. You work your ass off to sell your new music so your fans see how much passion you have for it.

Timberlake proves you don't have to manufacture drama or constantly appear as a guest on other artists' tracks to sell records. You've got musicians who are always showing up on other rappers' albums or putting out free online mixtapes every other day because they think if they're not on a record right now, they'll become irrelevant.

To generate buzz for their new albums, they think they have to be involved in some shocking event, like being shot at following a birthday party at a South Beach nightclub after buying endless bottles of expensive rosé champagne. Or he'll act half-dead at the hospital so their mug is plastered all over TMZ for more than 24 hours.

Timberlake is doing it Michael Jackson-style -- the right way -- by building anticipation for his new music instead of faking his way to headlines.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.

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