What Does Janet Jackson’s Comeback Mean For The Changing Industry & ‘Aging Divas’?

Janet Jackson’s pending musical return has been regarded as both lackluster and monumental at the same time. Reviews of her new single “No Sleeep” has been deemed by some as a snore fest (no pun intended) while some forecast a heralding resurrection of Janet’s Velvet Rope era. The single received a boost by one of today’s hottest rapper, North Carolina's own J. Cole, but that’s not all: the 49-year-old superstar is prepping The 'Unbreakable' World tour, and her album Conversations in a Café is in the works.

With her return comes some impressive and record-breaking feats: Janet is the first female African-American recording artist to form her own record label, Rhythm Nation Records, on which her album will be released. Also, Billboard reports that BMG will provide “­marketing and promotion while the singer retains ownership of the recordings.” And just how much ownership? A whopping fifty percent! (Traditionally more than most on major labels).

This society ridicules women (more so than men) for aging, so discourse about the “aging diva” has always prevailed through Hollywood and the entertainment industry, as female stars of yore are always looked at as "washed up." Stars such as Mariah Carey, 45, and even Whitney Houston, although vocally respected, were and have not been taken seriously in later parts of their careers (Houston for many other reasons). Although Jennifer Lopez, 46, seems to be avoiding being mentioned in washed up, pop star discourse conversations, Vegas has always recently been the way to go for older stars such as Carey, Britney Spears, and Lopez; It's a safe, steady stream of income by filling seats based off of their mega success in this now-dwindling and changing industry.

Janet has sold tens of millions of albums over the span of her 30+ year career. With her own record label and smart licensing deals, Janet’s making some big moves, but what will her comeback mean for this ever-changing music industry based on single sales and right-now radio?

Jon Cohen, EVP of recorded music at BMG US, tells Billboard: “Janet and her camp are extremely aware that it’s 2015 — ­everyone is realistic about what record-selling and streaming mean in this era. Janet was very fair about the deal.”

Virgin president Phil Quartararo, who is just one of the people behind her comeback, says Janet “has had such a vast career in music, TV and film; she’s not your average pop star. We’re going to work this record for a long time. It’s not something that’s going to come and go.”

Janet’s team is aware of the star’s (perceived) middle-aged disadvantage in light of the industry’s changing climate and seem to have her in good hands for success.

Time will tell…