Sales-Week Ending-2/4/07

1. Norah Jones "Not Too Late"

Sales this week: 405,031

Snorah.  I’ve got no problem with her.  Other than the fact that EMI is pinning their hopes on her, that the media is making her release such a story.

Norah Jones did not expect to become an instant star.  And she hasn’t acted like a star, and I approve of this greatly.  But the machine, they’ve trumped up her marginal talents to the point she’s become hatable, and that’s unfortunate.

Snorah is a marginal artist.  Who made the cocktail album of the year a few annums back.  When you’re the artist of the year, you can never repeat your success.  Because that year is PAST!

We knew it was all over when she toured to far from sold-out business.

We know she’s not gonna sell tonnage this time because she wrote the songs, and it was her voice and smooth arrangements that sold the initial record, and her songwriting talents are…marginal.

That’s what’s wrong with the record business.  They burn something out in search of profits.

An act like Norah Jones should have an album a year, should be given a chance to develop, to maybe become a great writer/artist.  But the pressure of the hype makes the public turn away before you’re fully grown.

Like I said, I’ve got no problem with Norah, but the machine stinks.

2. Katharine McPhee

Sales this week: 115,761

Not everybody watched "American Idol", not everybody gives a shit.  Hell, if you didn’t watch the show you’ve got NO IDEA who she is.

And with 30 million tuning in a week, this is piss poor.

Put it in the terms of merch, how much per head.

And this is number two.  With this poor number.  Wow is the CD business in trouble.

3. Daughtry

Sales this week: 76,883
Cume: 1,449,760

A hit single.

Furthermore, he followed his muse.

But the hit single business, Top Forty radio, is a sideshow few pay attention to.

And one other question, is every "American Idol" album EPONYMOUS??

4. Celtic Woman "New Journey"

Sales this week: 70,968

All I want to know is what Bill Russell has to say about this.  Or maybe Bob Cousy.

My research tells me this is a PBS-fueled phenomenon.

All I can say is I’d rather listen to AMERICAN WOMAN.  And fuck any of the chicks who go to a Randy Bachman gig.

8. Shins "Wincing The Night Away"

Sales this week: 53,470
Cume: 172,439

Come on, is this really that big a story?

Indie band plays SNL.  All its fans go out and buy the record.  They don’t even go platinum.

This is long tail business, this ain’t mainstream.  For, if it was, with THAT amount of hype, and it was DEAFENING if you’re paying attention to music at all, this record would already be gold, at least at 400,000.

In the old days, the public would take a risk on a heavily-hyped project.  Now people are weary of the hype.  The media is complicit with the labels, it’s a symbiotic relationship.  We’ll give you access for airtime.  It’s entertainment.  And when music blew up, it wasn’t entertainment, it was LIFE!

10. 2007 Grammy Nominees

Sales this week: 47,545
Cume: 125,097

With this number, you can expect the Grammy ratings to be in the toilet once again.

Oh, they’ll be boosted by Gen-X’ers tuning in to see the Police reunion, but the coveted youngsters, they won’t even record it.  They’ll just tune in the juicy parts on YouTube before NARAS and the other copyright-holders have the clips taken down.

But by that time everybody who really cares will have already viewed them.  Because they will already have been texted, IM’ed, oldsters will even E-MAIL!  And by Monday afternoon, when the old farts get their removal requests into YouTube, if that soon, it will already be old news.

The cycle is faster than ever.  But the memories last FOREVER!

14. Nickelback "All The Right Reasons"

Sales this week: 40,418
Cume: 4,832,709

Selling for all the right reasons.  Because the music has changes, you can sing along to it, it’s what the public WANTS!

Young drinkers want the beat-influenced stuff, to try and get laid in the club.  Most music fans want something with melody, and Nickelback has more melody than ANY hip-hop album.

So you hate the lead singer.  So the music is second-rate.  Compared to most of the stuff on this chart, Nickelback is GENIUS!  Because rather than try to appear hip, and with it, they’re playing it straight down the middle, giving people what they want.

17. Corinne Bailey Rae

Sales this week: 38,992
Cume: 949,976

All the Oprah in the world won’t make Corinne Bailey Rae a credible artist.  This is Snorah, just a few years later with a TON more hype (remember how they DIDN’T hype the Snorah debut, just let it find its own market?)

If you’re putting your records on, if you don’t have an iPod, if you’re listening to this second-rate dreck, you’re the kind of person who listened to Top Forty radio in the seventies, because AOR was too dangerous.  You’re a softie with no direction home who listens to what others say, who’s got no self-respect, who doesn’t realize life is a battle and shit like this won’t help you win the war.

There’s nothing WRONG with this, it’s just that it’s Snorah-lite, and is built on hype.

Like she’s gonna mature into the new Bonnie Raitt.  RIGHT!

19. Nelly Furtado "Loose"

Sales this week: 35,309
Cume: 1,307,676

Was it worth selling out for THIS?  To go barely beyond platinum?

Nelly Furtado was a unique artist.  In some people’s eyes, a VISIONARY!  (Well, not mine.)  But after her second record got lost when her label essentially closed up shop, she decided to play it safe.  Wow, work with Timbaland, THAT’S creative!

Now she’s just like everybody else.  She’s flavor of the month.  She’s got no fans.  She will live and die on hit singles.  Her hip audience has abandoned her.

If you pull shit like this you don’t get it.  Fuck the Top Forty radio sales, THIS CHART, it’s about the Web, and credibility and FANS!

Nelly has no fans.  Just young people who bought this album who won’t even know where it is in two years or so.

29. Gwen Stefani "Sweet Escape"

Sales this week: 26,256
Cume: 814,898

Maybe she should have worked with TIMBALAND!

Or maybe she did.  But who’s paying attention anymore?

Do you remember the press barrage?

Calling Jimmy Iovine, your paradigm has expired!

33. Josh Groban "Awake"

Sales this week: 24,750
Cume: 1,418,811

I sat next to the dude at a party.  I’d like to tell you my heart raced.  But it was like sitting with an uncomfortable nephew who should be away at college.

Michael Buble, Josh Groban.  It plays to a specialized market.  I’ve got no problem with it.  Just don’t TELL ME ABOUT IT, don’t make me LISTEN TO IT!

Then again, I saw Buble perform in Toronto, and he was a lot more riveting than all the alternative acts the musos parade as the next big thing.

35. Beatles "Love"

Sales this week: 24,081
Cume: 1,258,541

Mashups were a NOVELTY, whose time passed, shit, almost TWO YEARS AGO!

Even DANGER MOUSE moved on!

How fucked up is it that Gnarls Barkley can outsell the BEATLES!

But "Crazy" had everything this album did not.  "Crazy" was not calculated, not perfectly recorded, it was magic captured in a bottle.  The painstakingly concocted "Love" was so sterile as to be impenetrable.

It’s not like the public didn’t know about this record.  It just decided it didn’t NEED IT!  I mean do you want the ghost of Picasso to come into your bedroom in the middle of the night and rearrange your honey into something out of "Demoiselles d’Avignon"?

To paraphrase that has-been Irish act, there’s nothing better than the real thing baby.

37. John Mellencamp "Freedom’s Road"

Sales this week: 22,890
Cume: 78,965

I’ve never seen the Chevy ad, because I DON’T WATCH TELEVISION!

Look at the ratings.  Do you think everybody’s seen this spot?  Hell, are you following advertising?  Companies are going to the Web, where the Google model has them only paying for people who are INTERESTED in the product.

Mellencamp says he had to do it.

I say bullshit.

He says Tom Petty got no recognition.

I say Petty’s album sucked.

Mellencamp.  You should have worked the Web.  Rather than making a deal with the devil, you should have used your site to create a STREET TEAM!  Yes, fifty year olds don’t know what street teams are, they’re not impervious to their machinations.  And fifty year olds are still dedicated music fans.  Empower them, they WANT to help you.  Make fans, don’t spray your bullets all over.

Today you don’t speak to the public at large, you speak to YOUR AUDIENCE!

39. John Mayer "Continuum"

Sales this week: 22,583
Cume: 1,309,041

What kind of crazy fucked up world do we live in that this guy is seen as a major artist?

47. Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah "Some Loud Thunder"

Sales this week: 18,867

That’s the power of NPR.

There’s no buzz here, nobody cares.  This is third, maybe FOURTH rate indie crap.  It’s a circle jerk for those no longer in school who consider themselves hip.  This is IRRELEVANT!

66. Saliva "Blood Stained Love Story"

Sales this week: 13,172
Cume: 43,816

Remember when Saliva were comers?

This music is too much for the mainstream, it’s not ear-pleasing, but EAR-SPLITTING!

This makes Zeppelin look like the Carpenters.

This is fringe, and these sales now reflect this.  Too much of what’s fringe in rock is sold as mainstream.  NICKELBACK is mainstream.  But to like what they do in the heartland, that doesn’t square with your hipster lifestyle.

This chart is irrelevant.  I’m only doing this analysis because my inbox is filling up with requests.  Everybody wonders if I’ve FORGOTTEN about the chart.

But the chart no longer makes my dick hard, it doesn’t get me off.

And based on these numbers, it doesn’t get the mainstream off either.

People are streaming YouTube videos by the millions.  But music is a second-rate citizen.  Oh, have all the live tracks come out of the woodwork, get people excited about acts, NO!  File-trading bad, Top Forty radio and CDs good.  It’s like the industry’s on a mystery cruise.  And the general public doesn’t care if the ship gets lost at sea.

Doesn’t ANYBODY get that file-trading isn’t killing the business, but the people IN CHARGE??

I say fire everybody at the label, at the agency, and put in twentysomethings.  They’ve got better values, they know the marketplace better.

Yes, twentysomethings aren’t about intimidation, but HONESTY!  They want to make a buck, but they don’t want to RIP YOU OFF!  And it’s about being a member of the group, and you can’t be one if you mistreat your brethren.

There’s a TON of great new music out there.  But the public isn’t hearing it.  And, those who are fans of music find the landscape IMPENETRABLE!

This ridiculous state of affairs is not going to go on forever.  An MTV is going to rise from the ashes and rule.  Oh, I don’t mean music video, but rather an entity that utilizes the new distribution platform to deliver something exciting to the public, that those presently in charge just don’t get, just don’t understand.

Hell, GIVE THE MUSIC AWAY!  And create a chart of what people want.  Come up with some meaningful statistics.  Hell, slice and dice them.  If someone’s forty, and is married with two kids, and lives in zip code 90049, WHAT ARE COMPARABLE PEOPLE LISTENING TO?  Don’t make them endure bullshit track after track, like with Pandora or LastFM, just give them a list, allow them to hear the stuff.  We’ve got to find some way to TURN THE PUBLIC ON!

So we know if we get cute people, who everybody wants to fuck, and put them in major media, we can sell SOME records.  Is that really the only game?  Is the easiest way out the best way?  Did you marry your spouse on the first date?

Life is complicated, it’s about discovery.  It’s not fast food, but something more subtle, something that takes more time.  It takes a while to fall in love with a track, an act.  But you’ve GOT TO HEAR IT FIRST!

The story of MySpace isn’t user-generated content, but that the powers that be DIDN’T CREATE SOMETHING THAT FILLED THE NEED!

Viacom and its behemoth brethren didn’t create MySpace.  They just didn’t get it.

The major labels, the publishers, THEY JUST DON’T GET MUSIC!  They don’t understand that EVERYTHING is available now.  They don’t understand niche.  They don’t understand trust.  They’re hard sellers in an era of soft sell.

There’s nothing better than hearing a great new record.  But where the fuck are you going to hear it?

Not KCRW.  I won’t listen to that station.  I don’t want to be associated with those people.  Those people didn’t get drunk on Monday night in college, they played by the rules so they could afford their big houses and fancy cars.  The music on that station lives in some bizarre backwater, where everybody strokes each other to say they’re so fucking hip.  Shit, I’d rather go to a NICKELBACK CONCERT!

Yes, at a Nickelback concert, I don’t have to worry about the fucking baby boomers and Gen X’ers paying $2,000 to a scalper to sit in front of me.  Hell, those people in their fancy clothes, who come late, who talk on their cell phones…who’d want to go to a concert WITH THEM!

It’s about energy, it’s about feeling.  It’s not about calculation, it’s about feeling ALIVE!

I hung with two fifteen year olds.  They didn’t want to talk ANY of the shit on this chart.  They just wanted to know if I’d seen Steve Jobs’ Macworld presentation, they wanted to talk about the iPhone.  Oh, one plays guitar, the other piano, but all they download is OLD stuff, like "Tommy".

They know, how come the EXECS don’t know.

Once upon a time, music ruled the world, it was the hippest medium out there.  Doubt me?  Fire up a Beatles album, a Pink Floyd record, AC/DC.  In the grooves is LIFE!

There’s no life in "CSI", nor in any of the shitty movies.

And there’s no life in mainstream music.

Save me the blowback.  Music just ain’t cool. And it’s YOUR FAULT!

Note: Once upon a time this was an industry newsletter.  So the fault I’m talking about is the EXECS’ fault.  If you’re a fan, if you’re reading just because you love music THAT MUCH, I feel for you.  When you find something good, e-mail it to ALL your friends.  But don’t e-mail them more than once a month.  Establish trust as a guru.  WE’VE got to take over.  I know you care just as much as I do.  We don’t want to get paid, we just want something to BELIEVE IN!

2 Responses to Sales-Week Ending-2/4/07 »»


  1. Comment by Nick Stern | 2007/02/10 at 17:08:15

    Hi Bob,

    As usual, I’m shocked by your attitude towards Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I’m convinced you haven’t listened to their new record, and I’m saddened that the model created with this band isn’t given more recognition by the one person who has called for all the changes we’ve actually put into practice. To call what we’re doing "IRRELEVANT" undermines every single email you send out.

    "There’s no buzz here, nobody cares."

    I don’t know what world you’re living in, but I think selling 19,000 records in a week means lots of people care. Maybe you’re talking about that traditional buzz you’re used to, the barrage of radio and video, snipes and singles, playing the game. This is a band that’s never made a video, never played with Nickelback at a radio show, never done all those things every other band is forced to do. The marketing/publicity/radio/video budget for this record is under $15,000. They made a record, they put it out. And they live much better than 95% of all bands I’ve worked with, including the vast majority of acts I worked with during my time at a major – all this while owning their masters and publishing, touring in a bus, and not being forced to do anything they don’t want to.

    You’re so fond of using Pollstar numbers to prove people don’t care about bands – go check out ours, from around the world. You’ll see the band has been headlining shows for a year now, and maybe 5 or so haven’t sold out. Check the numbers from last time they were in LA, two sold out nights at the Fonda. Check out the numbers in Tokyo, London, Paris, Hamburg, Minneapolis, Boston, Chicago, Seattle….go look Bob, you’ll see that people do actually care ALOT about this band.

    Last year you made some list of 25 things that band’s should or shouldn’t do. CYHSY had followed 24 of them, the one exception being that they played Letterman. I can never fault a band for wanting to play that show. It’s fun playing on the same stage the Beatles played on. But seeing as how we’re pretty much your poster children, I’m amazed you don’t show us more respect.

    And go listen to their music. You might actually like it.

    Nick Stern
    Manager, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

  2. Comment by Don VanCleave | 2007/02/19 at 20:07:24

    Subject: CYHSY – ok, I will bite Bob,

    I have been following all of the emails to you about CYHSY. I am amazed at all of the people just now hearing about them from your emails. And amazed by people judging them from a few minutes on U Tube or Myspace. They were THE buzz band at Bonnaroo last year and I must stay that they tore the stage down. It was fucking fantastic. 5000 kids screaming every word and losing their minds.

    To rewind a bit, we started a distribution company about three years ago whose sole mission was to get exclusive content for indie record stores. There are many out of deal bands and web only merch that my guys want to stock. So, we go and get em. We also get signed artists to do cool stuff just for the indie store base.

    Summer before last, I got a call from one of my guys saying that they were having a really difficult time getting Clap Your Hands Say Yeah who had just gotten a favorable review on Pitchfork. I asked where they had gotten the product from before and they answered "From the band". Hum.

    So, I went to the band’s website and ordered 2000 or so copies from them. I get this call minutes later from Nick Stern asking me what up. I knew Nick worked at Atlantic and we had common friends. He told me that the band had been packing and shipping CDs to stores themselves but it was getting to be overwhelming. Plus they needed to go on tour. He told me he was cutting a deal with ADA but it would be a while before they could ship product. I smelt opportunity and a short window.

    So, we cut a deal. We would help the band until they got their real distro deal worked out. I paid them one way in cash. We sold 13,000 copies in about six weeks time and I figured the band put about $80,000 profit in their front pocket just from doing business with a few hundred indie record stores for a few weeks. I remember Fedexing Nick a check the day we got the first order.

    I remember emailing stores that we had CYHSY. Some stores came back with a WHO? Those same stores were ordering 120 units at a time just a few weeks later. I have NEVER seen something spread this fast.

    So, love the music or not. That is irrelevant to the argument. For the first time I felt the power of lightning buzz on the internet and got to see a band first hand responding nationally to that buzz on their own.

    We have more stories like this. It is happening and is great to see.

    Don VanCleave
    Coalition of Independent Music Stores
    3738 4th Terrace North
    Birmingham, AL 35222

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