Lady Gaga Sings the Language of Global Marketing

12/08/2010 03:38 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Nataly Kelly VP, Marketing at Smartling and Co-Author, 'Found in Translation'

Lady Gaga, who was recently crowned CNN's most provocative entertainment icon of 2010, is well-known for her creative costumes and performances. Now, she's planning to mix things up from a language perspective. According to Lady Gaga's promoter, Ralph Simon, her forthcoming album in May 2011 may include one song in Russian. The international music phenomenon has also been discussing plans to release tunes in Hindi, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Releasing international hits is a savvy business move, one that many music super-stars have practiced long before her. Back in 1988, Sting released a version of his album "Nothing Like the Sun" which included songs in Portuguese and Spanish. In 1995, Madonna's Spanish-language version of her hit, "You'll See" ("Verás") was a hit on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs.

What Sting and Madonna did decades ago -- making their music available to potential fans in more languages -- was a smart move. In today's highly globalized and digital world, adopting a multilingual approach not only makes sense, but will help Gaga optimize the potential of the world wide web to deliver more relevant content to her global fan base.

Which languages should Lady Gaga pick?

Earlier this year, we published a study that revealed the top 57 languages for expanding global brand presence. If Gaga wants to target the 10 most economically significant tongues, she should select Japanese, German, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Korean, and Arabic. Russian comes in at #11 on our list, but is growing in importance.

Hindi is much further down the list of languages of global importance on the web. But in the music industry in general, Hindi could be a very smart move, as it could help Lady Gaga ease into the enormous -- and potentially lucrative -- Bollywood music scene.

However, songs might not be enough to achieve global music dominance. If Lady Gaga wants to effectively crack the global code, she'll need to do much more, including implementing a multilingual social media strategy. She currently has more than 24 million fans on Facebook, but to truly take her brand global, the Gaga team will need to look at strategies such as the one Anheuser-Busch recently announced to make social media content available in many languages.

Lady Gaga is considering what other artists have done for decades -- singing in other languages. That alone is not a revelation. Yet, in all other areas of artistic expression, Lady Gaga balances the mainstream with the avant-garde. What's the linguistic equivalent of the gravity-defying shoes for which she's known?

Instead of just selecting the languages that will help her global brand, she also should choose a less common language to add to her music arsenal. Recording a tune in, say, Tibetan, would not only help her make a statement, but would draw attention to languages and populations that might benefit from the positive publicity. Such a stunt would certainly get people talking -- and beyond her music, that's what Gaga does best.