This Week’s Sales

4. Christina Aguilera "Back To Basics"
This week: 100,740
Cume: 581,996

Mmm… In the old days, the REALLY old days, of Fleetwood Mac’s "Rumours", you’d sell an album for a couple of years, off of endless hit singles.

But now, you can’t count on even ONE hit single. You’ve got to prove yourself at Top Forty, no matter WHO you are (can you say Beyonce?) And it’s not only about music, it’s about image, it’s about heat… Scary if you’re in the hit single business.

In between were the days of the boy bands. Where the debuts were SO significant it didn’t matter what the follow-up sales were. You could make your money on the instant mania.

But those days are through. No one has enough focus, no one gets our attention enough, to blow up. In a decentralized marketplace he who would be king is not. Because too many people just don’t care. And they have ALTERNATIVES!

So where does that leave Christina Aguilera?

A big debut by 2006 standards, of 300,000+. But here, only three weeks hence, she’s down to 100,000 copies a week. A new and developing artist hitting gold, that’s pretty good. But this was supposed to be the biggest record of the year.

In other words, where’s the MANIA? If Christina goes on tour does she sell out arenas instantly? Hell, she’s lucky if she sells out at all.

Somehow the mania is gone. People believe in today’s pop stars about as much as they do today’s movies. And they’ve got a shelf life just as long. Do you think they’ll be able to work Christina singles for two years? You’re dreaming if you do.

5. Jessica Simpson "Public Affair"
This week: 100,800

Piss poor.

Publicity doesn’t sell records. People might want to fuck Jessica, might be interested in the drama of her life, but they’re not interested in her music.

7. Outkast "Idlewild"
This week: 196,137
Cume: 274,660

"Purple Rain" was the exception. If you’ve got career momentum, maybe have a song on the soundtrack, but don’t stake your fate on a flick. If it fails, you’re toast. And even if not, you’re overshadowed by the movie, which has a short shelf life, and to be profitable, a record should have a LONG shelf life. But if you’re selling a product with the name of a has-been, probably stiff movie, where’s the buzz?

Go back to Wang Chung. "To Live And Let Die" almost killed their career. And Tom Petty didn’t do much better than the English group with "She’s The One".

When done right, music is superior to film. It touches you in a way no visual image ever can. So why does everybody in the music business want to be in movies? Ridiculous.

10. Nickelback "All The Right Reasons"
This week: 54,212
Cume: 3,4232,156

As Pete Townshend so eloquently put it, "Rock is dead, LONG LIVE ROCK!"

15. Gnarls Barkley "St. Elsewhere"
This week: 44,047
Cume: 855,384

Biggest hype/buzz of the summer and the album can’t even go platinum. This business is in even worse shape than the major labels admit.

22. Trace Adkins "Dangerous Man"
This week: 51,726
Cume: 199,563


28. Ray LaMontagne "Till The Sun Turns Black"
This week: 28,319

From: Michael Patterson
Subject: Are they out of their mind?

I am in NYC mixing a record. This weekend I had a afternoon off and I popped into the Union Square Virgin records store to browse.

While walking around the store I noticed a display that had the new Ray LaMontagne record on it. I did not pay attention to it as I already have it.

A bit further in the store I noticed another one and then a few feet down from that one yet another. I then figured out what was going on.

People picked up a copy of the record THAT WAS PRICED AT $18.98 and after walking around with it a bit decided that $18.98 was too much to pay for the CD. They then put it down in front of a CD on a display that was near them. Once I figured this out I went looking around the store for more of the same record and found seven (7!!!!!!) Ray LaMontagne records in places that they should not be. $18.98 is more then Starbucks charges for their overpriced CDs.

Who knows if those seven people will take the time later to buy the CD somewhere else.

$18.98 is what you expect Beyonce to sell for first week, not some really hip songwriter no matter how good he is.

Let’s look at the options……$18.98 for the CD at Virgin……$9.99 from iTunes (including bonus tracks)…. or FREE using Bit torrent…..which one are the kids going choose?

33. Paris Hilton "Paris"
This week: 26,390
Cume: 103,421

Makes Vanilla Ice look good.

Can we finally put this paradigm to rest?

No, as long as there is auto-tune and cynical baby boomers who’d rather hop on a bandwagon than build something real, from scratch, we’re going to be subjected to crap like this.

Maybe the purveyors are too stupid to wake up, but obviously the public is hip to their tricks.

49. Nelly Furtado "Loose"
This week: 24,399
Cume: 692,702

Hit singles don’t sell albums. Not in significant enough amounts to pay for that Aston Martin you’ve got your eye on, anyway.

So, if a Top Forty hit doesn’t allow you to hit your numbers, you’d think the majors would focus on career acts…

But NO, because THEIR careers are brief at best…

55. Tom Petty "Highway Companion"
This week: 18,123
Cume: 280,159

Tom Petty hasn’t done anything truly memorable since "Mary Jane’s Last Dance".

This album, despite the endless reams of hype, just isn’t good enough.

71. Buckcherry "15"
This week: 15,325
Cume: 375,087

Pretty good for a washed-up band that couldn’t get a deal, don’t you think?

78. Guns N’ Roses "Greatest Hits"
This week: 12,728
Cume: 3,146,159

Makes Eddie Rosenblatt and the old Geffen team look like geniuses.

Geffen was about the act first, not the sheen. And the acts they signed are STILL selling.

Of course they got fat and happy and didn’t see the change to hip-hop and went out of business, but they were the last successful old model company. Wherein it was about the MUSIC! Everything else was secondary to what was in the grooves.

How many GN’R albums are there anyway? Shouldn’t you just buy the debut and the "Illusion"s? Fuck the "Spaghetti Incident".

But 128 weeks on, this unnecessary compilation is still selling.

We’ve lost our way. We’ve been driving headlong so fast into the wilderness that we’ve forgotten where we came from.

The music business didn’t USED to be about getting RICH! Now the execs feel entitled. Whereas it used to be these albums blew up unexpectedly and money rained down (in the late sixties and seventies). I love that new technologies are allowing a reinvention. Because the remnants of the old system are rotten.

83. Mary J. Blige "Breakthrough"
This week: 11,637
Cume: 2,551,391

She can SING!

And that makes a difference, that’s why her album has sold so well, not the DRAMA!

99. Raconteurs "Broken Boy Soldiers"
This week: 9,912
Cume: 271,069

And you wonder why people no longer pay attention to critics.

The mainstream is so out of touch, it’s ridiculous.

Jack White is not the second coming. He’s a guy with a gimmick whose fifteen minutes of fame, if they ever existed, are just about up.

It’s about songs. Which is why Led Zeppelin outsold every edition of the Jeff Beck Group, even though Jeff can blow Jimmy Page off the stage.

Jack White is a mediocre songwriter, at best.

129. Creed "Greatest Hits"
This week: 7,113
Cume: 1,291,715

Admit it. This most loathed band of recent yesteryear looks incredibly talented compared to the dreck purveyed today.

144. Taking Back Sunday "Louder Now"
This week: 5,936
Cume: 481,307

You might not get paid, but Tony Brummel can sell as many records as the major.

So, all you bands leaving indies for the majors, you’d better get a BIG CHECK!

157. Pink "I’m Not Dead"
This week: 5,400
Cume: 471,557

Yes you are.

160. Marc Anthony "Sigo Siendo Yo"
This week: 5,095
Cume: 56,927

What a perfect pair. J. Lo and MA. Both toast.

162. Government Mule "High & Mighty"
This week: 5,045
Cume: 18,669

I heard the title track on satellite radio. It’s not "Hotel California", but it’s really pretty good.

If it was the seventies, Government Mule would be a gold act, spun incessantly on AOR. But with no terrestrial radio format for the band to fit in…they can’t break out of their touring/cult rut.

192. Steely Dan "Definitive Collection"
This week: 4,234
Cume: 29,866

What makes it definitive?

The majors just repackage and sell, the same old shit, as if anybody cares. And based on some of the tour numbers, not that many people care about Steely Dan anymore.

The touring business is gonna be in serious trouble. It appears the baby boomers just don’t want to go out anymore. If you haven’t regrouped now, it just might be too late. Boomers are into lifestyle, and that doesn’t include being treated like cattle at a gig of an act that you’ve already seen come back.

Where are the new acts? How do we find out about them? How do we bring the vitality back?

One thing’s for sure, reinvention is not coming from the major labels. They’ve just got enough money to get their message heard, that the system is fucking them, that their wares are being stolen.

Somehow, music just doesn’t mean the same thing anymore. Ever since MTV, it’s less about what’s on the disc than the marketing. You think getting thousands of MySpace friends is any different than the old game? All the e-mails I get from wannabe acts make me puke. If you’re actually good, FANS will sell your music to me. But everybody wants to short circuit the process, just go straight to the bank.

Money didn’t used to be the driving force. Hell, you couldn’t MAKE enough! Just ask the blues musicians who inspired those English acts that sold millions in the seventies. They did it out of love.

It was hard to get exposure in days of yore. So you focused on your craft. Today, people focus on the exposure, because it’s easier. Don’t the lackluster sales of Paris and Jessica show that exposure is not enough??

One Response to This Week’s Sales »»


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  1. Pingback by 5,000 Records Is All You Need at | 2006/09/06 at 19:10:12


    Posted September 6, 2006 by Joe Taylor Jr.

    Lefsetz has a gloriously cynical look at this week’s sales. […]

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks »»

  1. Pingback by 5,000 Records Is All You Need at | 2006/09/06 at 19:10:12


    Posted September 6, 2006 by Joe Taylor Jr.

    Lefsetz has a gloriously cynical look at this week’s sales. […]

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