1. Lil Wayne "Tha Carter III" 2,671,816
Do we want to focus on the Internet marketing campaign (i.e. the steady release of free product), the discounts/free goods to retail, the fact that a hip-hop album is number one or the low total gross. I choose to look at this final fact. There’s not a lot of road business. A 360 deal with most rappers won’t help your bottom line. Lil Wayne’s the king, but it’s not the domain it used to be.
2. Coldplay "Viva La Vida" 1,905,679
Based on the hype, you’d think it did 5 million, wouldn’t you?
Most interesting fact? 579,007 of those albums were digital.
3. Kid Rock "Rock N Roll Jesus" 1,712,661
If keeping your album off iTunes generates this anemic total of albums sold, despite a multi-format smash, there’s a bigger problem facing the music business than the iTunes Store.
4. Jack Johnson "Sleep Through The Static" 1,437,691
The virtue of having fans. He may not be in every magazine, but he’s a star to his audience.
5. AC/DC "Black Ice" 1,319,914
Sold a whopping total of 2,084 discs online last week. (About 2% of their grand total of 105,146 sold.)
Making an album available for shipping online is not like selling at the iTunes Store, with its instant gratification.
The ACDC area of the Walmarts here on Long Island have already been condensed. It was a good run huh? lolol
6. Taylor Swift 1,316,801
A bona fide star. But for how long? She’s overexposed and teen sensations don’t tend to last (yes, Justin Timberlake is an exception, but he changed his sound and is one stiff away from falling off the chart, like Kelly Clarkson.)
8. Leona Lewis "Spirit" 1,249,522
She may have closed the Olympics, but she’s not a star in the U.S. She’s the owner of one big hit single.
9. Mariah Carey "E=MC2" 1,193,599
Never has ink outweighed sales to this degree. She’s covered constantly in the press, but it turns out most people in the nation could care less.
12. Jonas Brothers "A Little Bit Longer" 1,096,771
Sure, the album only came out in August, but it’s already sunk to number 28 on the chart.
In other words, the Jonas Brothers are no ‘N Sync.
14. "Camp Rock" 1,083,351
Is it that kids don’t watch TV in the summer or the vaunted Disney Magic is losing its luster?
I’m going with the latter.
15. Usher "Here I Stand" 1,070,771
He fired his manager, angry about the lack of sales. But sitting here at number 15, you’ve got to say Usher did pretty well, maybe there wasn’t that much money left on the table, maybe everybody who wanted this album bought it, or close to it.
18. Miley Cyrus "Breakout" 1,015,480
She won’t be selling out arenas next time around.
Talk about the "Vanity Fair" pictures, say aging isn’t pretty, or admit it, a fad is a fad.
23. Disturbed "Indestructible" 796,223
Pretty damn good. And most people in the country have no idea who Disturbed is. But their fans do. This record was not sold by saturation marketing, the band wasn’t featured on gossip sites, it was supported by its audience. In the world of today’s music, Disturbed are stars (and the album only came out in June…)
28. Colbie Caillat "Coco" 713,786
The power of one incredible single.
But she’s going to live and die based on her singles…
29. Rick Ross "Trilla" 700,213
Not a household word, but very respectable sales.
In other words, saturation marketing reaches a bunch of people who just don’t care.
33. Madonna "Hard Candy" 673,475
I bet she’s pissed. She did everything in her power to make this record a hit. Worked with the flavors of the day… But she’s an oldies act, who’s overcharging and playing venues too big and not selling out.
Love to see her squirm.
37. Radiohead "In Rainbows" 633,638
Amazing considering they gave away the album for free.
42. 3 Doors Down 610,717
Meat and potatoes rock sells.
Did Nickelback make a mistake working with Mutt? Going closer to the center, trying to improve their quality? Should they have just made the same workmanlike album one more time? Probably.
46. Alan Jackson "Good Time" 592,066
Not that satisfying a record. And mainstream press does not sell country records!
48. Duffy "Rockferry" 579,191
Wow, haven’t heard that name in a while. Seems like a flash in the pan already, her moment seems to have passed.
53. Slipknot "All Hope Is Gone" 541,044
They were on the Super Bowl, right? Or did one of the guys date a Pussycat Doll…
They make unlistenable music that their core audience loves. That’s all that matters.
54. Katy Perry "One Of The Boys" 537,160
Don’t believe the hype! She’s not a star! She’s a singles artist at best!
But the dying mainstream media has to trumpet somebody. And they’ve chosen her. But fewer and fewer people are paying attention to the mainstream media and the machine may demand big stars, but listeners do not.
66. Maroon 5 "It Won’t Be Soon Before Long" 457,126
Clive would have sold more.
Interscope is about real records. Clive is about the hype. He works the publicity and Richard Palmese gets the adds and they sell tonnage, then no one wants to hear the act ever again.
86. Weezer (Red Album) 375,952
Hipsters love Rivers Cuomo, most people just don’t care. AND Rick Rubin produced some of this record.
87. Sheryl Crow "Detours" 375,781
Her audience aged out.
94. Panic At The Disco "Pretty Odd" 354,394
I’m surprised they sold this many. The more mainstream exposure you get, the shorter your shelf life.
You’ve got a chart. It’s good to be at its top, or close to it. But you can’t analyze in the abstract, you’ve got to add context.
And context says in a nation of 300 million, these sales are shit. You can rail all day about piracy, you can say iTunes has turned it into a singles business (no, the Internet did), but the real story is with so many entertainment choices, so many diversions, we all don’t have to pay attention to the same overhyped crap. We get to choose what we want to listen to. In other words, the days of Tommy Mottola and Columbia’s Big Red Machine are dead. You can flog it, but that doesn’t mean anybody will buy it.
Music is underground again. Rejoice. It belongs to the people.
However, easy riches are out of the industry’s grasp. The nineties are history. The golden age of pigs at the trough are done. You’d better make good music that appeals to an audience that is willing to listen to you for years. You’d better be willing to get your money on the installment plan instead of all up front. You’d better realize this is no longer the lottery, but a business based on bunts and singles instead of grand slams.