Sales-Week Ending-5/27/07

1. Maroon 5 "It Won’t Be Soon Before Long"

Sales this week: 429,484
Debut

Is Maroon 5 a lightweight sideshow that demands no attention or did I just not get the memo?

Oh, I got the MEMO!  How can you escape it!  It’s TWENTIETH CENTURY hype done to the zenith!  Saturation advertising, placed stories, all to get everybody to rush into the store and buy the album the day it comes out, or "drops" in hip-hop parlance.

Well, in a country of three hundred million, this number isn’t pitiful, but it’s close.  Could it be that most people just don’t give a shit about Maroon 5?  Could just as well do without them?  The way they’ve done without Whitney Houston all these years?

I mean what did Whitney do to change the landscape, to make us remember?  There’s not a string of unforgettable, groundbreaking singles, like with Aretha Franklin, just a few paint by number pop concoctions sold with pretty images on MTV, back when people used to watch MTV, when it used to be about music.

How fucked up is it that VH1 is more watchable than MTV?  MTV’s bringing back "Unplugged", with Bon Jovi?  Isn’t that like signing your own death warrant, showing everybody that you truly do live in the past?  They can’t break any new stars, so they’re just gonna bring back the old ones.  Let me guess…  Bon Jovi’s gonna play "Livin’ On A Prayer" and "Wanted Dead Or Alive", as well as the country track he’s working that week.  Make me puke.  Whereas at least VH1’s living in the twenty first century, it’s just "Mad" magazine train-wreck reality shows, gutter comedy.

One thing’s for sure, Maroon 5 won’t have the lasting power of Bon Jovi.  First of all, they’re not as good.  Secondly, IT’S NOT 1986, MOST PEOPLE JUST AREN’T PAYING ATTENTION!

Funny thing is I’ve heard Maroon 5’s new single once, on some satellite station.  I’d like to tell you it’s great, but it’s a confection.  But, my point is I know the band is led by Adam Levine, he grew up in Brentwood, didn’t he?  He had a previous band that didn’t break through?  I mean how fucked up is THIS!  I know the band’s story better than their music!  And I don’t even care, it’s just that I’ve been BOMBARDED with this information.  And it hasn’t made me curious.  Based on this sales number, it didn’t make a whole hell of a lot of other people curious either.

But, we’ve got an interesting question…  Will NOTHING be mainstream and dominant in the future, or will something SO good be owned by seemingly everybody, both because of its quality and the need to be a member of the group, a member of the culture.

Actually, these singles have much more penetration than sales figures would indicate.  Hits are traded P2P by MILLIONS of people.  So maybe most of what I said above is beside the point, maybe a lot more people care, but the business just refuses to count them.  Hey, it’s like immigration, we’ve got to have a plan.  Are we gonna leave all the traders out forever, or bring them into the big tent?

I still think Maroon 5 is evanescent crap, I still think they’ve got surprisingly little impact relative to the hype, but they’re actually bigger than this number indicates.

Then again, Maroon 5’s "Make Me Wonder" is only number 18 on the BigChampagne chart (the bible of P2P), and it’s going down.  But, it resided on 1,426,834 hard drives today.  Let’s look at the digital singles chart…  They’re showing 156,691 downloads of "Makes Me Wonder" this week, with a cume of 872,088.  The single’s been out for 5 weeks.  Why is that?  If you want to sell albums, why do you only make the single available for over a month?  Bottom line, the people who stole it aren’t going to buy it, and more people stole it than bought it.

But, BigChampagne doesn’t include the heritage/catalog tracks/albums.  How many people downloaded "Stairway To Heaven"?

Confused yet?

You should be, it’s murky out there.  But what we’ve learned is more people want the music than are buying it.  Should we try to convert them, or sue them?  Is music failing, or is the SELLING of music failing?  And what if Maroon 5 were the Beatles, would the penetration be stratospheric on hard drives, or can no one get that traction today?

These are the questions that should be asked.  But they’re not even part of the dialogue.

2. Linkin Park "Minutes To Midnight"

Sales this week: 197,640
Cume: 821,642

Was the problem that people burned out on the music on "Beatles For Sale"?  Is that why the Beatles changed direction, gave up the poppy sound for something deeper with "Rubber Soul"?

And was the "Revolver" sound rejected, is that why they went in a different direction with "Sgt. Pepper"?

Of course not.  Everybody was happy with what the Beatles were ALREADY DOING!  But the band changed direction, tested our limits because THEY didn’t want to repeat themselves, they wanted to challenge THEMSELVES, they wanted to RISK!

Where’s the risk in this Linkin Park album?  The band was afraid if they put out rap-rock, no one would care.  So, they eliminated a signature sound of the band, worked with the same producer as everybody else, and came up with a safe album with bad buzz.

It’s about making a statement.  This was about playing it safe.

And no amount of record company bullshit can convince me otherwise.

You sell millions of records and you get uptight.  You’re afraid to fuck up the franchise.  You not only want YOUR money and perks, everybody else is DEPENDING ON YOU!

That’s what killed Kurt Cobain.  Everybody’s expectations, everybody’s interests, it was too much weight on his shoulders, he couldn’t carry it, he wanted off.  Stomach pain?  Classic anxiety symptom.

Of course, truly we can only blame Kurt.  But once you make it, it’s overwhelming.  Your responsibility is not only to yourself.  And now, more than ever, past history makes no difference.  Hell, look at the baby boomer acts, Lindsey Buckingham, Fleetwood Mac’s genius?  NOBODY CARED!  And how about that Paul McCartney saturation hype.  God, the story isn’t his music, but that he’s selling it in STARBUCKS!  He can’t bear to fail.

I feel sorry for Paul.  He thinks he’s vital, and the public doesn’t care.  Top Forty radio won’t play him, and radio sucks anyway.  What’s he to do?  John Mellencamp sold out to Chevy and all it did was hurt his image.

Everything’s safe.  And crummy.  Did anybody say "Spider-Man 3" changed their life?  "Shrek 3"?  "Pirates 3"?  We’ve got a dearth of quality.  The hype machine may not jump on quality, but the people will.  Quality and authenticity, isn’t that what’s selling Amy Winehouse?

3. Ozzy Osbourne "Black Rain"

Sales this week: 151,991
Debut

Ozzy’s a joke, right?  Isn’t he that bumbling guy on TV, who blames his psychiatrist for over-medicating him?

Shit Ozzy, you’re rich.  Couldn’t you get a second opinion?

And what about Ozzfest.  Like Sharon Osbourne would give away ANYTHING for free.

Hell, they’re SELLING VIP packages.  And, no one has gotten their free tickets yet.  And you know they’ll be free just like those free iPods in the spam e-mails you get.

Ozzy did great work with Randy Rhoads.  His "No More Tears" album is a classic.  But now he’s just a money machine, which doesn’t seem to be paying off too handsomely.

I mean why buy this record?  Who can believe in this guy after the MTV show?  And without belief, you’ve got no cadre of hard core male fans who’ll follow you anywhere because you’re all they’ve got, along with their zits and beer.

18. Fergie "The Dutchess"

Sales this week: 29,105
Cume: 1,929,005

She works hard for the money.  Kissing all that radio butt.

The old days of being a rock star?  Playing your music after the sun goes down, then getting your dick sucked as you smoke a doobie?  Those days are GONE!  If you want to make it in today’s world, get a plastic surgeon, work out heavily, and be willing to do whatever your handlers say you should.  What has this got to do with music?  NOTHING!

28. Justin Timberlake "Future Sex/Love Sounds"

Sales this week: 21,173
Cume: 3,272,186

They gave him a fucking record label.  Give me a break.

They close down Elektra, and Capitol.  But Justin’s gonna go into the record business.  Why don’t they just buy him a Maybach, or in the alternative, just light the cash on fire.  Maybe charge admission, that’d be a better attraction than the acts he’s gonna sign.

Who did this well?

Certainly not Prince.

Madonna had a huge smash with Alanis, and then not much.

The only person who had real success was Fred Durst, with Staind and Puddle Of Mudd.  Is that the paradigm you want to follow, FRED DURST?  Who can’t even WORK in the record business anymore?

Justin, a hint for you buddy.  START A MANAGEMENT COMPANY!  OWN THE COPYRIGHTS!  There’s money in music, but not in forming a record company.  Especially when you’re so far from the day to day.

But this is a story in the press, this is a big thing.

I guess with Lindsay Lohan in rehab, they’ve got nothing to talk about.

31. Fall Out Boy "Infinity On High"

Sales this week: 17,632
Cume: 864,323

Wait a minute!  Wasn’t the headline "Fall Out Boy Hits ‘High’ Note With No. 1 Debut"?  Weren’t they gonna save the business?  God, that’s what the press said.

But here, 16 weeks later, they haven’t even made it to platinum.  It’s a twenty first century story.  Big chart debut, and then…

Watch out Maroon 5 and Linkin Park.  Then again, Maroon 5’s got Jimmy, he WILLS these records into hits.  He’ll have Fergie and Gwen in the next Maroon 5 video, he’ll tie in with some corporation, he’ll do whatever it takes to win at the old school game.  And that’s what it is, positively old school.  Hanging on the telephone, working the old boy network.  A lotta work just to maintain your image.  And how much fun is it?  Clive Davis says he’s birthing our national culture.  He’s truly convinced he’s saving us.  Jimmy’s hipper than that, not that delusional.  But is it really fun figuring out ways to jam this crap?  Is that why he got into this business?

Of course not, he got into it for the PUSSYCAT DOLLS!

34. "Shrek The Third"

Sales this week: 16,527
Cume: 32,157

Soundtrack albums are officially dead.

Fergie, Wings, Wolfmother, Led Zeppelin…  The kids aren’t THAT stupid!

40. The Beach Boys "Warmth Of The Sun"

Sales this week: 14,473
Debut

This is sad.  I’m a huge Brian Wilson fan.  I bought the albums containing tracks like the contained "It’s O.K." when no one did.  But they’ve got to give it a rest.  "Pet Sounds" is the most repackaged, re-released record I can think of.  We got the memo, and the music.  Hey, if you want to sell it in the future, let it lay fallow for a while, until people truly want it.  And they don’t want this.  God, having fun all summer long doesn’t even mean the same THING anymore!  Kids can’t go to the beach without their parents, they play at home in the a/c and every oldster who wants this music has it.

Can you believe there’s no more Capitol Records?  Shouldn’t they have canned the Virgin brand, sold it back to Branson (hey, he’d pay SOMETHING for it) and then have Jason fly the Capitol flag?

Sad.

67. Barbra Streisand "Live In Concert"

Sales this week: 9,467
Cume: 87,046

They’d have been better off selling this as a PBS pledge break premium.  Hell, that’s where her audience resides, in front of the TV.

Or, they should have made a deal with Starbucks.

This is laughable.  As were the prices for her tour.

Hey Barbra, either come down off your throne and be one of the people, or STAY HOME!

81. Rufus Wainwright "Release The Stars"

Sales this week: 8,420
Cume: 32,465

Now he’s just like his parents, a marginal, non-profit-making artist, just with a LOT more hype and nowhere NEAR the catalog.  Shit, "Heart Like A Wheel" is better than ANYTHING Rufus has ever written.

97. Tori Amos "American Doll Posse"

Sales this week: 7,467
Cume: 90,557

Who knew Tori Amos was going to turn into Anne Heche and leave us high and dry, become so obscure that even diehard fans stopped paying attention.

170. Regina Spektor "Begin To Hope"

Sales this week: 4,227
Cume: 402,689

Girls are gonna save music, not boys.  Boys need markers, they need achievements, it’s all about the pecking order, the size of your dick.  Whereas women don’t need to set the world on fire, they don’t need a collection of toys, it’s what’s on the INSIDE that counts.

It’s absolutely stunning in a world of Pussycat Dolls and Fergies, in an era where Gwen Stefani sells out for fame, for ongoing success, that someone does it her own way and has success.

It’s all about hearing these records.  Oh, I knew who Regina Spektor was, I even listened to Goldie recount in detail how he and Seymour signed her, and she’s Anthony Zuiker’s favorite act, but that wasn’t enough to motivate me.  But earlier this week, I heard "Samson" on the radio, and I got it immediately.

That’s how it is with music, all great art.  You don’t need anybody to TELL you something is good, you just instantly know, as soon as you experience it.

We’re all living in Missouri now, we’ve got a whole SHOW ME COUNTRY!  You can’t convince me, you’re untrustworthy.  I’ve got to hear it from someone without an investment.

Laura Nyro will be remembered for the hits she wrote for the 5th Dimension.  Hell, the fucked up world we live in has her MANAGER more famous than she ever was and will be.

David Geffen made her career.  Unfortunately, he also helped kill it.  By making a bad deal and walking away.  But when he believed, his passion drove her into the forefront.  We all need someone to believe in us, to help us.  Unfortunately, now these people are no longer midwives, but kingmakers.

Clive Davis never wrote a song or played a note.  But the way he writes the book, he’s more important than Laura Nyro.  That’s ridiculous.

You see Laura Nyro spoke from the soul.  Her music came directly from her heart to yours, unfiltered.  If you were a fan, you had to see her whenever she came to town, you bought the records without hearing them first.  You were a member of a cult.

That’s what the business used to be, a collection of cults.  But then the cults grew so big that the indie record labels sold out to the conglomerates and the resultant labels thought they could create cults with a snap of the fingers.  But that’s not how you do it.  That’s how you sell a TV program, not a musical artist.

And Laura Nyro was an artist.

And so is Regina Spektor.

Will she equal Laura Nyro’s achievements?  Who knows!  But what we do know is she’s following her own muse, Seymour and Goldie aren’t telling her what to do, they’re PROTECTING HER!

That’s what artists need, protection, not whoring out.  The attention alone at this young age will kill you.  Look at the boys, dating famous socialites, opening bars, trying to hang on desperately to their peak, playing it safer and safer while wilting under the attention.

We love Amy Winehouse because she’s a rock star, she does it HER way.

But we love Regina Spektor first and foremost because of the music, which is unfettered, straight from her soul.

Regina has quietly almost gone gold.  She means more than all that boy crap.

And speaking of girls, the Wreckers have sold 751,590 albums so far.  I’d rather listen to them and Little Big Town than any of the boys with guitars.  We’ve got points of light, we’ve just got to NURTURE THEM!

Invest in women.  Don’t care about what they look like, if they’ll obey you, the only test is are they speaking from the HEART!  This is what the public is yearning for.  It may not sell fast, but it seemingly sells strong and steady if not forever, then a VERY long time…

6 Responses to Sales-Week Ending-5/27/07 »»


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  1. Trackback by Marksonland | 2007/06/02 at 12:30:54

    Arcade Fire at the Greek

    Last night Kelly and I headed to Berkeley to check out one of her favorite bands, Arcade Fire, at the Greek Theater. While I’m not too familiar with their music, she’s seen them a bunch of times at the various…

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  3. Pingback by mind new media » Blog Archive » The Free Music Business | 2007/06/03 at 15:39:56

    […] derstand what it says. Free music will be a better business than paid music ever was. Read Bob Lefsetz’ rant this morning. He’s been saying […]

  4. comment_type != "trackback" && $comment->comment_type != "pingback" && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content) && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content)) { ?>
  5. Pingback by fresh wordpress installation » The Free Music Business | 2007/06/04 at 14:34:15

    […] derstand what it says. Free music will be a better business than paid music ever was. Read Bob Lefsetz’ rant this morning. He’s been saying […]

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  7. Comment by Mark Linett | 2007/06/04 at 19:20:14

    Bob,

    I am a big fan of your column and your blogs about what used to be called the music industry are mostly spot-on. However as the engineer and compilation producer for the Beach Boys I have to take issue with your critique of the group’s "Warmth of the Sun" CD.

    First of all this is a rather difft. compilation CD containing songs that many people know well but that weren’t chart hits. Songs like "All Summer Long" , "Sail On Sailor" and "Surfs Up" to name a few. The intent is to expose some of the 2.5 million who bought the previous compilation "Sounds of Summer" to a deeper part of the band’s catalog. And maybe that will lead them to such overlooked albums as Friends and Sunflower and Surfs Up. Besides 14,000 in the first week aint too bad, and summer hasn’t even started yet.

    As for Pet Sounds, yes it has been released in every format known to man including a Grammy nominated four CD box set that traces the making of what is considered by many to be the greatest pop album of all time. And it has been released on regular CD three times, four if you count the 1999 version that was redone to correct serious problems with the mastering that EMI did without the group’s permission, but each reissue has been done to improve the sonic quality and that includes the recent 40th anniversary edition which has imo the best sounding version of the original mono mix ever put on CD.

    I know there are some dedicated fans who buy each new version of the album because they must "have them all" but I assure you that is a very very small audience. Its the new fans who weren’t even zygotes when Pet Sounds was released that we are trying to reach and we want anyone who buys the album to have the absolute best sound and package possible for their $12.00 (?).

    There are a lot of CDs out there that are in desperate need of a sonic makeover, but the sales figures don’t justify the expense to the "record" labels. Luckily Pet Sounds sells well enough year after year that we have been able to remix it in stereo and 5.1 and improve the mastering as the technology gets better.

    When Pet Sounds stops selling , that’s when you should start worrying.

    Mark Linett

  8. comment_type != "trackback" && $comment->comment_type != "pingback" && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content) && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content)) { ?>
  9. Comment by Seymour Stein | 2007/06/06 at 14:11:12

    Dear Bob,

    I’m in Tokyo, and my assistant has just read me your wonderful commentary on Regina.

    Women are most often more determined than men, and prepared to do a lot more heavy lifting. I’ve been blessed to have worked with some of the best; Chrissie Hynde, k.d. lang, Tina Weymouth, and of course Madonna.

    When Goldie first brought Regina to my attention, I flipped out. Not everyone felt that way, but if you believe, you’ve got to fight for it. Protecting artists, as you put it, is very important. Their careers are a lot more fragile and often shorter than ours. One of the most important things we can do for our artists, and that goes for both sexes, is to buy them as much time as possible.

    The biggest and the best artists often find it a long and rocky road to success. EMI could not get Capitol to release The Beatles, which is why so many of the early recordings came out on Vee-Jay and Tollie. After Vee-Jay blew it by not paying royalties, and after the success of "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me", Capitol once again rejected The Beatles, which is why "She Loves You" was released on Swan.

    Time, along with protection are both so important to an artist’s career.

    Best regards,

    Seymour Stein

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  11. Pingback by COUNTING IN / OUT’S » A,B,C | 2008/05/24 at 05:41:51

    […] t myself, is one of the most consistent examples of rigorous, yet charming complexity. But Lefsetz always says it better. Scroll down ti […]


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Trackbacks & Pingbacks »»

  1. Trackback by Marksonland | 2007/06/02 at 12:30:54

    Arcade Fire at the Greek

    Last night Kelly and I headed to Berkeley to check out one of her favorite bands, Arcade Fire, at the Greek Theater. While I’m not too familiar with their music, she’s seen them a bunch of times at the various…

  2. comment_type == "trackback" || $comment->comment_type == "pingback" || ereg("", $comment->comment_content) || ereg("", $comment->comment_content)) { ?>

    Trackbacks & Pingbacks »»

    1. Pingback by mind new media » Blog Archive » The Free Music Business | 2007/06/03 at 15:39:56

      […] derstand what it says. Free music will be a better business than paid music ever was. Read Bob Lefsetz’ rant this morning. He’s been saying […]

    2. comment_type == "trackback" || $comment->comment_type == "pingback" || ereg("", $comment->comment_content) || ereg("", $comment->comment_content)) { ?>

      Trackbacks & Pingbacks »»

      1. Pingback by fresh wordpress installation » The Free Music Business | 2007/06/04 at 14:34:15

        […] derstand what it says. Free music will be a better business than paid music ever was. Read Bob Lefsetz’ rant this morning. He’s been saying […]

      2. comment_type == "trackback" || $comment->comment_type == "pingback" || ereg("", $comment->comment_content) || ereg("", $comment->comment_content)) { ?>

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        1. Comment by Mark Linett | 2007/06/04 at 19:20:14

          Bob,

          I am a big fan of your column and your blogs about what used to be called the music industry are mostly spot-on. However as the engineer and compilation producer for the Beach Boys I have to take issue with your critique of the group’s "Warmth of the Sun" CD.

          First of all this is a rather difft. compilation CD containing songs that many people know well but that weren’t chart hits. Songs like "All Summer Long" , "Sail On Sailor" and "Surfs Up" to name a few. The intent is to expose some of the 2.5 million who bought the previous compilation "Sounds of Summer" to a deeper part of the band’s catalog. And maybe that will lead them to such overlooked albums as Friends and Sunflower and Surfs Up. Besides 14,000 in the first week aint too bad, and summer hasn’t even started yet.

          As for Pet Sounds, yes it has been released in every format known to man including a Grammy nominated four CD box set that traces the making of what is considered by many to be the greatest pop album of all time. And it has been released on regular CD three times, four if you count the 1999 version that was redone to correct serious problems with the mastering that EMI did without the group’s permission, but each reissue has been done to improve the sonic quality and that includes the recent 40th anniversary edition which has imo the best sounding version of the original mono mix ever put on CD.

          I know there are some dedicated fans who buy each new version of the album because they must "have them all" but I assure you that is a very very small audience. Its the new fans who weren’t even zygotes when Pet Sounds was released that we are trying to reach and we want anyone who buys the album to have the absolute best sound and package possible for their $12.00 (?).

          There are a lot of CDs out there that are in desperate need of a sonic makeover, but the sales figures don’t justify the expense to the "record" labels. Luckily Pet Sounds sells well enough year after year that we have been able to remix it in stereo and 5.1 and improve the mastering as the technology gets better.

          When Pet Sounds stops selling , that’s when you should start worrying.

          Mark Linett

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          Trackbacks & Pingbacks »»

          1. Comment by Seymour Stein | 2007/06/06 at 14:11:12

            Dear Bob,

            I’m in Tokyo, and my assistant has just read me your wonderful commentary on Regina.

            Women are most often more determined than men, and prepared to do a lot more heavy lifting. I’ve been blessed to have worked with some of the best; Chrissie Hynde, k.d. lang, Tina Weymouth, and of course Madonna.

            When Goldie first brought Regina to my attention, I flipped out. Not everyone felt that way, but if you believe, you’ve got to fight for it. Protecting artists, as you put it, is very important. Their careers are a lot more fragile and often shorter than ours. One of the most important things we can do for our artists, and that goes for both sexes, is to buy them as much time as possible.

            The biggest and the best artists often find it a long and rocky road to success. EMI could not get Capitol to release The Beatles, which is why so many of the early recordings came out on Vee-Jay and Tollie. After Vee-Jay blew it by not paying royalties, and after the success of "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me", Capitol once again rejected The Beatles, which is why "She Loves You" was released on Swan.

            Time, along with protection are both so important to an artist’s career.

            Best regards,

            Seymour Stein

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            Trackbacks & Pingbacks »»

            1. Pingback by COUNTING IN / OUT’S » A,B,C | 2008/05/24 at 05:41:51

              […] t myself, is one of the most consistent examples of rigorous, yet charming complexity. But Lefsetz always says it better. Scroll down ti […]

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