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Katy Perry opens Clear Channel's iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles

October 23, 2013|By Gerrick D. Kennedy
  • Clear Channel Media and Entertainment opens its iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles located at the Burbank Studios with the Katy Perry iHeartRadio Album Release Party for "Prism." The event featured a live performance and Q&A with Perry discussing the album.
Clear Channel Media and Entertainment opens its iHeartRadio Theater Los… (Joseph Llanes for iHeartRadio )

Katy Perry debuted her latest album, “Prism,” with an album release party where she performed stripped down versions of new material and sat for an interview with TV personality Mario Lopez.

Album release parties are typically a private affair -- reserved for tastemakers, record label suits, press and occasionally superfans -- with the actual music taking a back seat to open bars, gourmet hors d'oeuvres and shoulder rubbing.

And while Perry’s celebration Tuesday night certainly had some of those trappings, the singer smartly made her party double as the ultimate promo vehicle.

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The event was beamed live to 175 Clear Channel stations around the country. It streamed over the Internet, with fans tweeting questions. And it was filmed and will be televised by week’s end on the CW, just in time to add a boost to her already strong first-week sales.

Perry’s album release party also served another purpose, with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment launching its iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles, where the event was staged.

Touted as a place to “bring fans intimate performances from top recording artists” and “a variety of innovative promotional opportunities,” the new venue is as flashy as one would expect of a space backed by a radio conglomerate.

Located at the Burbank Studios in the former home of “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” the 20,000-square-foot converted soundstage didn’t stray from its overly polished roots as a place meant to be filmed and shown to the masses.

Towering white pillars with the iHeartRadio logo dotted the venue’s forecourt, which was adorned with a red carpet, velvet ropes and a massive spinning cube emblazoned with Perry’s album logo. Inside, a sprawling video screen spanned the entire length of one wall and a lounge area could be easily confused for a chic Hollywood nightclub.

As for the performance space, it was certainly more TV glitz than Sunset Strip rawness.

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Maybe it was the TelePrompTer that scrolled Perry’s lyrics during her performance and Lopez’s prompts for speaking segments. Maybe it was the security guards that guided audience members away from the sightlines of the cameras. Maybe it was the incessant reminders that the event was being filmed, streamed, broadcasted and tweeted.

Perry, for her part, glided through tracks from “Prism” – offering acoustic takes of the smash lead single “Roar,” follow-up single “Unconditionally,” and album highlights like “This Moment” and “By the Grace of God.” During her interview she broke down her creative process, and took questions from fans in the crowd (no less handed out by Clear Channel staffers, considering one fan told Perry he listened to the album all weekend on iHeartRadio -- sure).

Given it was an album release party, the majority of the few hundred folks who packed the floor were the suits who cared more about getting the best shots to post on Facebook.

The fans that were there, Perry’s dedicated "Katy Kats," won access through radio contests -- the audience could really have benefited from more of them and less of the stuffy executives who chatted during the performances and seemed uninterested throughout the night.

As Perry sang “By the Grace of God,” which she introduced as her most vulnerable record, many in the posh VIP sections were too busy passing cocktails and chatting to pay attention.

Doesn’t matter, though. Those who live-tweeted as they watched the Internet stream and who will tune into the CW special Friday are the intended audience that the brass who sat unenthused in the balcony section of the theater are banking on.

Hopefully the next promo event at the iHeartRadio Theater will feature more fans and feel less like a TV show taping and, well, more like an actual party.

Gerrick Kennedy


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