Rebranding Whitney Houston for a new audience

Legacy artists are big business, and labels are using creativity and design to help bring their music to new audiences. Here, we talk to designer Erik Herrström about the branding he’s created for the singer Whitney Houston, ten years after her death

One of the hottest tickets in music last year was Abba Voyage in London. This was no ordinary comeback tour – the singers, despite all being in good health, did not appear on stage and instead were replaced by a series of ‘Abbatars’ performing the band’s hits as they looked in the 70s.

While there was interest in the technology, it was Abba Voyage’s ability to transport its audiences via the music that truly made the experience a success. Legacy musicians are, after all, huge moneyspinners. In recent years we’ve seen (another) resurgence of the Beatles via Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentaries; while Baz Luhrmann breathed new life into the story of Elvis Presley with his super-charged movie Elvis. With David Bowie coming in third place in the list of the highest paid dead celebrities of 2022 after Warner Chappell spent $250 million on his back catalogue, we can presumably expect to see the return of the Thin White Duke in some form soon too.

In its Wrapped list of its audience’s streaming habits from last year, Spotify included a ‘throwback album’ line up of the most streamed music that was over 20 years old as part of its global trends. Spotify put this interest down to nostalgia, which is surely a significant factor, but the rise of this trend also signals the way that record labels are finding increasingly smart ways to bring old music to new audiences.

Examples of the new Whitney Houston branding