Sales-Week Ending-3/11/07

1. Notorious B.I.G. "Greatest Hits"

Sales this week: 99,178
Debut

I guess Warner is trying to get back some of that money they paid Sean/Puffy/Diddy.

2. Arcade Fire "Neon Bible"

Sales this week: 91,800
Debut

Actually, I thought the total would be more.  What with the number they shipped and the hype.

As for the hype…

Back in the sixties, when music was like video games in the nineties, racking up dough off the radar screen, you couldn’t get mainstream publicity.  Ergo the axiom, "All publicity is good publicity".

I ask you, is that still true?

Why don’t we question Britney Spears.  Do you think the pictures of her beaver and bald head enhanced her album sales potential?

No, in the era of cable TV/Web, it’s EASY to get publicity, but the more publicity you get, the shorter your career.

Call it the Pearl Jam paradigm.  After "Ten", the band decided to do no more videos, no hype.  Sure, their record sales trailed off, but FIFTEEN YEARS LATER they can still sell out arenas.  Do you want to still be able to work as a musician and not have a day job fifteen years on?  Then I’d suggest you watch your publicity.  The more ubiquitous you are, the shorter your career.

As for Arcade Fire…  There are much worse offenders.

But as Pearl Jam proved, fuck the casual fan.  It’s the HARD CORE you’re interested in.

Of course, at first it’s hard to get anybody to pay attention, but once you’ve got traction, pull back on the reins!

6. Relient K "Five Score & Seven Years Ago"

Sales this week: 63,962
Debut

Did you know they were a Christian rock band?  Do you know ANYTHING about this band?

I think the following e-mail from Mike Wallin says it all:

Is it just me or does anyone else turn on the TV to hear the host announce who the musical guest  is and then thinks ‘who the fuck is that?’

We’re not talking quality here, this isn’t about Relient K’s talent.  I’m just saying that the MAINSTREAM is a sideshow.  That an album can go TOP TEN and most people don’t know about it, don’t know anything about the band, and don’t give a shit.

7. Norah Jones "Not Too Late"

Sales this week: 59,446
Cume: 1,085,957

Oh, it’s too late to save EMI’s bottom line.

Pretty good sales in the new era.

But EMI’s stockholders and the street still believe it’s the OLD era!

11. Justin Timberlake "Future Sex/Love Sounds"

Sales this week: 46,120
Cume: 2,917,507

That’s a shitload of records.

But that’s a tiny fraction of the population.

Used to be the music of an act this big was known by everyone.  Hell, Mariah Carey believes that EVERYBODY heard and knows "We Belong Together".

Well, no.  There are so many choices out there that you can live in your own world and ignore what’s left of the mainstream.

26. Kidz Bop Kids "Kidz Bop 11"

Sales this week: 23,603
Cume: 133,190

Well, TV advertising hasn’t gotten cheaper.  But CD sales have dropped dramatically.  So, this isn’t quite the cash cow it once was…  I mean that’s over a million in billing, but at WHAT COST?

31. Finger Eleven "Them Vs. You Vs. Me"

Sales this week: 19,101
Debut

I really liked "One Thing", even wrote about it.

But "One Thing" wasn’t representative of what else was on the record.  Now the band has moved its sound closer to "One Thing".  But it appears that there aren’t that many people paying attention.  I won’t quite say they’re starting at ground zero, but there’s not much of a base here.

Meanwhile, ran into these guys in the airport in Toronto.  They were in line with a ton of gear.  Had to ask them who they were, hell, who recognizes these musicians anymore?  I’d like to say they were friendly, trying to make new fans.  But they asked me nothing about me.  Just figured I was another out of it boomer.  Oh, when they told me the name of their band I told them I knew them, but that didn’t open any doors.

Kind of funny as you get older.  These bands affect their look, but they’re going to be behind the counter waiting on me soon!

39. Lily Allen "Alright Still"

Sales this week: 17,075
Cume: 158,034

Another Brit who’s a star in the mother country who wants us to pay attention.

Who gives a shit.

There’s way too much hype on this record.  It’s not THAT GOOD!

40. Air "Pocket Symphony"

Sales this week: 16,825
Debut

Do you own "Moon Safari"?

One listen to "All I Need" and you’ve got to buy it.  Hell, I heard the band in a commercial when I was doing a radio show in Santa Fe and I had to go out and buy it.  If something’s good, you know it IMMEDIATELY!  And if it’s not so good…you can come to like it over time, but…

But what is truly stunning is that Air has never come CLOSE to "Moon Safari" again.  I’m stunned THIS many people are still interested after all the crap they’ve been releasing.

48. Sugarland "Enjoy The Ride"

Sales this week: 15,394
Cume: 908,008

Let’s say you like good voices, catchy hooks and melodies you can sing along with.

Then I hope you’re listening to country.

Country’s more mainstream, more rock, than TOP FORTY!

This is twangier than Little Big Town, and not quite as good, but still very listenable.

And, because it’s grown within the country ghetto, you don’t feel overhyped, you don’t feel bad coming late to the party, you don’t feel bad becoming a FAN!

76. Killers "Sam’s Town"

Sales this week: 10,649
Cume: 1,056,615

I wanna know, when the Killers put out their next album, does anybody CARE?

Oh, you know it won’t come out for years, when their audience is now in college, or heaven forbid, MARRIED!

There was all this frontloaded hype.  And then this, the disappointing second record.

If I were them, I’d go right back into the studio and do a new album.  Out before Christmas.  To firm up their base.

Oh yeah, I’d go back to the sound and imaging of the FIRST ONE too!

81. Son Volt "Search"

Sales this week: 10,254

You know I saw Jay Farrar at this Gram Parsons tribute show a couple of years back and I was stunned how good he was.

Then again, he wasn’t singing his own material.

I guess Jeff Tweedy had all the talent.  At least the audience thinks so.

85. "Music & Lyrics"

Sales this week: 9,706
Cume: 42,444

Remember when labels fought to get the soundtrack album?  And paid dearly for the privilege?

This was back before most movies disappeared in a weekend, when movies drove the culture.  Now TV drives the culture.  Hell, you’re better off with a soundtrack to the now-cancelled "O.C." and "Grey’s Anatomy".

Worse, you used to be able to break albums from STIFF movies.  Assuming you had hit tracks on the record.  Back when there were still stars, who could create hit songs that impacted the culture.

If you’re paying an advance for the soundtrack album, then you’re INSANE!  The arrogant movie studios should pay YOU!

86. Saliva "Blood Stained Love Story"

Sales this week: 9,669
Cume: 94,114

This shit depended on video to break.

But now with no TV exposure, and the fact there is no one watching, because people don’t watch music television which usually isn’t, this hard-edged sound is having a ROUGH TIME!

I ask you, why did everybody believe after the boy bands the boomers’ kids would want hard-edged rock and white guys going black like Justin Timberlake?  Wouldn’t it have been better to have melody with meaning?  People who could sing with lyrics that meant something?  Shit, after the Four Seasons we didn’t get BLACK SABBATH, but the BEATLES!

I wasn’t much of an ‘N Sync fan.  But some of those Backstreet Boys tracks were DELICIOUS!  I can still listen to them!  And do!

Oh, the Backstreet Boys were not New Kids On The Block,  the music was GOOD!  Albeit meaningless.

Listen to "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)".  You can’t help but singing along.  Oh, the chorus is magical, with the background vocals…

And "Larger Than Life" rocks harder, and more tastily, than the music of most of the guys with long hair and tattoos.

And "I Want It That Way" is magical too.

Oh, forget the mania.  These were good records by ANYBODY’S standards.  Why can’t we have an outgrowth of records like this?  Stuff that goes down well, that makes you feel good?

Not that you have to feel good, introspection is good too.

But the hits were written by oldsters…

Why can’t executives find people with good voices who can write palatable, meaningful material?

I’ll maintain they’re not LOOKING FOR THEM!

But the field is WIDE OPEN!  "American Idol" survives on drama, but they’re singing SONGS!  And the winners can SING!  Why not find people like the contestants with more TALENT, and make THOSE records?  The public would not deny them the same way oldsters can’t deny Buble and Groban.

This business is too hip.

89. Snoop Dogg "Blue Carpet Treatment"

Sales this week: 9,332
Cume: 815,969

Anybody else see the irony of this album being on Geffen, which in its original incarnation was shuttered because it completely MISSED rap?

92. Jay-Z "Kingdom Come"

Sales this week: 9,150
Cume: 1,388,344

This ain’t even gonna go double platinum!!

Hype sells records?  Bullshit, MUSIC sells records.  And despite his image, despite his ubiquity, the public believed the music on this album just wasn’t that good.

Marketing trumps music?  No, great music finds a way.  If your music hasn’t risen up through the morass did you ever think it wasn’t GOOD ENOUGH?

117. Albert Hammond, Jr. "Yours To Keep"

Sales this week: 7,054
Debut

No, these albums are the LABEL’S to keep.  When the retailers return them.

This is what overhype delivers.  No rock band got as much ink as the Strokes.  Now this guy puts out an album and NO ONE CARES!

136. Taylor Hicks

Sales this week: 5,933
Cume: 653,452

The most interesting scuttlebutt is this album isn’t hitting, the track isn’t crossing over to Top Forty, because the label is teaching Taylor Hicks A LESSON!  He didn’t do what they wanted him to do.

If you’re doing what THEY want you to do, you might as well be making studio movies.  Collaborative efforts that don’t stick.

You only get one chance, do it YOUR way.  At least you’ll be able to sleep at night.

No one knows as much about your music, your image, where you’re coming from, as you.  To thine own’s self be true.

Assuming you’ve got some talent, assuming you’ve got something to say.

Does Taylor Hicks qualify?  Well, in his own mind.  I applaud him for that.  Hell, he’s gotten MORE than his fifteen minutes!

154. Tool "10,000 Days"

Sales this week: 5,284
Cume: 1,442,581

If they’d gone on network TV and given interviews EVERYWHERE would they have sold more records?

Yes, but fewer next time.

People believe in Tool.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t.

189. Papa Roach "Paramour Sessions"

Sales this week: 4,322
Cume: 173,519

Who knew they were still TOGETHER!

193. Madonna "Confessions Tour"

Sales this week: 4,248
Cume: 81,080

Are you a tabloid star, or a music star?

Obviously, Madonna is the former.  She’s transcended music and is now solely an image.  How well does that pay?  Pretty good for a while if you whore it out, do endorsements and the like.

Then again, the Madonna paradigm is done.  Maybe she could come back if there were only ONE TV station, where one of her edgy videos could air EVERY day!

She’s working at it too hard.  Hell, she’d freeze if outdoors for a few hours, she’s got no BODY FAT!

The public knows what’s real.  And Madonna ISN’T!

But their memories are.  That’s why they’ll go see her live.  To relive THEIR days.  When they were young and hopeful.

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Wasn’t this gonna be the week when the business showed us it wasn’t in the doldrums, that it was just a lack of new product that was delivering such SHITTY sales numbers?

Oops, I guess not.

Sales were down NINETEEN PERCENT from the same week last year.  This year sales are off 16.4% cumulatively from the same period last year.  If you don’t call this a disaster, you probably wouldn’t care if a fire consumed your bedroom.

The majors are marching towards marginalization.  There’s no leadership, only fear, only anger.  Oh, there’s downsizing, but no RESTRUCTURING!  What IS a label today?  What’s the best way to market a record?

Toyota beat Detroit by making better cars.  They didn’t always look as good, but they didn’t break, they lasted and lasted.  The only reason to buy Detroit iron is if you get an exceptional deal, or want an SUV.

Oops, the Japanese now make full-size SUVs, assuming you want to pay $3.50 a gallon for gas.

There’s a focus on everything BUT the music.  And the music that’s purveyed, it’s not a must-have, it’s very easy to shrug it off.

The numbers are not bouncing back up.  Is the business just gonna go PFFTT?  Is no one gonna TRY and pull a rabbit out of the hat?  I mean HOW GOOD are Doug and Jimmy if they’re presiding over this disaster?  Oh, Universal drives the business.  In this case, right off a cliff.

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But music, music is healthy…

"Runnin’ Down A Dream"
Tony Furtado

Was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
I had the radio on, I was drivin’

Down Bundy, in fact.  And I was running my way up the XM dial when I stumbled upon this on X Country.

Yes, it’s a cover of Tom Petty’s "Full Moon Fever" track, but it’s got a different vibe, it’s got a darkness, and the instrumental…it has a wholly different feeling from the original.

You’re not going to hear Tony Furtado on Top Forty.  You’re probably not going to see or hear him on TV, not even going to hear his song on a TV SHOW!

But TV isn’t about music.  And Top Forty is about commercials.

Music used to be enough.  Nothing competes with music other than maybe sex.  Video games, movies, they’re a DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE!  Music touches your soul, gets you through, when done right it doesn’t bounce off of you, rather it PENETRATES!

This version of "Runnin’ Down A Dream" penetrates.  You won’t quite get the vibe via your computer, you’ve got to hear it alone, in the car, that’s where music sounds best.

Go to: Tony Furtado It’s the third track down.  You can sample "Won’t Get Fooled Again" and the original "Used", but "Runnin’ Down A Dream" is the keeper.

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The Wailin’ Jennys

I heard this act Sunday night on XM’s Village.

Funny about folk, it’s got all the elements of those great Backstreet Boy tracks.  The people can sing!  Not that the Jennys’ material is as good as that of the Backstreets.

Actually, what I heard was a live show.  You see folkies can play live, the studio isn’t a NECESSARY ELEMENT!

I’d go to see the Wailin’ Jennys before ALL the acts that play at Staples Center.  I can imagine SITTING DOWN, and you know the venue would have seats, who declared music sounds better STANDING UP, letting the music wash over me, setting my mind adrift.  THAT’S what the concert/show used to be about.  Not spectacle, but going to a special place, in your MIND!  You didn’t even need a souvenir, the memory was ENOUGH!

The Wailin’ Jennys

___________________

You see with acts like Tony Furtado and the Wailin’ Jennys you don’t have to pay ATTENTION to the Top Forty crap, you can live in your own world and be QUITE HAPPY!

Will one of these off the radar acts gain momentum and blow up?  Sure, but not into the old school ubiquity.  And it will take a long time.  It SHOULD take a long time.  The base should be insured, so all the hype of the mainstream doesn’t alienate the core fans.

This is the future.  Tons of niches.  I don’t give a shit if you don’t like this music, doesn’t bug me a bit.  Go find your own genres, your own acts.  They’re OUT THERE!

But where are you supposed to find them?

I find the best place is XM.  Oh, I find stuff on Sirius, but they tend to only play one cut from an album, and not as many acts.  Music lives on XM.  Not that you’d know that.

Oh, listen to your iPod and your Net radio.  Your Pandora and LastFM.  You’re the one who’s missing out.  It’s about aggregating tastemakers and allowing them to do their own thing, so people can BELIEVE IN THEM!

Belief.  It’s a key element in music success.

And right now, there’s not enough of it.  Common wisdom is Americans think everybody’s whored out, so what’s the difference.  But I ask you, are YOU whored out?  Do you have an amoral moral code?  Do you party with Lindsay and Paris?  Do you have a deal endorsing Infinitis?  Is your whole life an endless parade of ersatz irrelevancy, cash being your only desire?  NO!  Because you’re not rich and famous.  So, you’re gonna cut the rich and famous a break?  NO, you want someone like you, who you can believe in, someone from a reasonable household who’s doing what’s right, that you can RELATE TO!  Nobody could relate to rap anymore, with the lifestyle depicted in both the songs and the videos, and sales dried up.  Sales are drying up everywhere.  Because what used to sell when there was no choice, just isn’t selling anymore.

There’s a ton of choice now.  It’s no longer about what’s a hit, but what appeals to you.  May be hard to find, but I guarantee it’s out there!

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.

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