467,616 Copies

Starbucks said 470,000. This is the actual SoundScan figure.

After seven weeks in the marketplace, Paul McCartney’s "Memory Almost Full" resides at number 34 on the chart, having sold 20,097 copies last week, a 24% drop from the previous week’s total of 26,300.

Is this a success?

Depends on who you talk to. Paul McCartney must be happy. He was the beneficiary of a media campaign heretofore unknown. And, I’m sure the deal was financially rich for him.

Starbucks? Great for the coffee company. They’re now established as a viable record label, about to release records by Joni Mitchell and James Taylor.

The music business?

Well, that’s a more daunting question.

Paul McCartney’s previous album, "Chaos and Creation In The Backyard", sold 533,000 copies. I expect "Memory Almost Full" to exceed this number, but not by much. The album’s falling down the chart. So what have we learned here? That a rich company not in the music business can overspend to sell just about as many copies of an album as the old system did back in 2005. It seems that we’re not even treading water. We’re falling backwards. We’re spending and blitzing more, but to much less effect. What happened?

Well, it’s hard to get the public’s attention.

And once you’ve gotten people to notice, it appears that it’s even harder to get them to lay down in excess of ten bucks for an album. They just don’t care.

Oh, so people are sick of music. They’ve moved on. To movies and video games.

No, demand for music is high. Just not in the format/sales paradigm the record business has employed for the last half century.

100 million iPods have been sold. A billion tracks are traded P2P a month. People are in love with music. They’re just not in love with buying it as a collection of ten or so tracks, at the present price point.

Are they against albums?

Not necessarily. If they’re convinced all ten tracks are good, they want them. But usually the only way to know all ten tracks are good is to buy them first. That’s a no-go. People want to hear before purchasing. But that’s not the way the business has done it.

It’s time for the business to do something different.

Internet technology delivers the ability for more people to own more music at a cheaper price. The Starbucks paradigm references this concept not at all. The only thing new and shiny about the Starbucks formula is that it provides a new retail outlet and a seemingly bottomless wad of marketing cash. Starbucks is positively last century. When is the music business going to arrive in this century?

Are only 500,000 people interested in a new Paul McCartney album?

No, only 500,000 people are interested in ten Paul McCartney tracks sold at once for in excess of ten bucks.

Music is too expensive. It’s seen as a raw deal. Labels can try to prop up the artificially high price or succumb to the fact that in order to sell more, they’ve got to make it cheaper. And while they’re making it cheaper, why don’t they sell a bunch of it at a time.

That’s the future. That’s what’s going to happen. That’s the cell phone model. Make everybody a consumer of music.

So if you’re an artist, in search of a deal, is it about finding the best marketing partner, someone who’ll put up the best campaign? Or is the campaign secondary to the way people acquire the music.

That’s what’s wrong with the Starbucks model. Purchasing CDs in a coffee shop just isn’t innovative enough.

You’ve got to start with the goal first, and then work backwards.

And the goal is to get your music into the hands of the most people possible.

In a country of 300 million, selling half a million copies of a known quantity is piss poor. No, don’t lower your expectations and say that’s all that can be moved, question your business model!

Paul McCartney just asked the wrong question. He wanted to know how he could sell the most albums, he didn’t ask how he could get his music in the most hands. Asking this latter question is going to lead to the answer. Prince asked this latter question and came up with an innovative solution that worked for everybody (except the old wave businessmen).

Instead of an ever-diminishing music business, instead of labels encroaching on touring and merch income to make their bottom line, acts and labels have got to think how can they get music in everybody’s hands.

Computer companies did it. Dell lowered the price, the Net blew up, and now many people have multiple computers.

I don’t know anybody without a cell phone.

And everybody didn’t acquire an iPod until you could get one for under a hundred bucks.

What don’t the labels get here? You lower the price and you increase the volume. That’s the formula, not raising the price.

The days of ten dollar plus albums are over. The only people who don’t know this are those controlling the labels. Everybody wins if more people own more music. And the way to do this is to lower the price.

The people who acquired Prince’s "Planet Earth" with the "Daily Mail" paid for it. But it felt free. It came with the newspaper.

That’s the formula. Make people feel music’s free. Build the cost in elsewhere. Or sell them buckets of tracks cheaply. But don’t try to sell them ten plus dollar albums. If Paul McCartney couldn’t succeed with this formula at Starbucks, who can?

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