Market Share Report

But I thought EMI was history, on the brink of extinction, how could Terra Firma’s company almost equal the Warner Music Group in new release market share, only half a percentage point separating the two?

HitsDailyDouble has an exhaustive market share report:

You may have to register first, but it’s free, and you should check the site on a regular basis, there’s a plethora of information.  But be sure to check for biases, both positive and negative.  Their vendetta against Lyor and Warner seems to be done now that they’re getting paid, but I haven’t quite figured out their problem with Randy Phillips.  I thought the "Hits" guys were radio mavens, who moved into management as the business caved.  Guess they want some of that tour money too…

Anyway, the reason EMI is doing so well is because of one album, Lady Antebellum’s "Need You Now", which has sold one and a half million copies so far this year.

complete chart here: 2010 Three-Month Market Share

And why did Sony essentially equal perennial market share winner Universal?  Can you say Sade and Susan Boyle?  Which sold 990,000 albums and 553,000 respectively?

And why is Jimmy Iovine’s IGA second in label new release market share?  Can you say Lady GaGa? Placing at number 3, with 553,000 and number 10, with 334,000?

Ain’t that an interesting spread.  Number one, Lady Antebelleum’s album, sold 1.2 million more than GaGa’s "Fame Monster", number ten.

In other words, now, more than ever, the major label game is about hits.

They don’t want your single.  And by this I don’t mean track, rather I’m employing a baseball metaphor. You can argue they want home runs, but I’d say the major label game is really about grand slams.

I can’t fault them for this, they’re businesses.  But what if you’re an act, do you belong in this game?

If you think you can sell tonnage, if you make radio and TV-friendly music, take your chances.  If you’re looking to build to a solid touring base, despite lip-service, the major can’t be bothered.  EMI is fighting for its life, actually, it’s already dead, they’re just arguing in court over potential fraud in the inducement by Citibank.  Do you really want to put your developing act on EMI?

Or even Sony.  Sure, Susan Boyle and Sade rain down cash, but the company just wants new winners of the same stature.  So maybe they’ll start you, but they might finish you too.  As in jumping ship to something that shows major traction, leaving you to languish in signed to the label hell.

And usually, you’re signed to a 360 deal, so even if you’re working on the road, you’re working for the label.  Which is doing exactly what for you?

It’s interesting to question whether these sales numbers evidence Long Tail backlash.  Whether it’s about winners more than small sales for the truly obscure.  But looking at the spread between the number one and ten albums on the chart shows that it’s about very few winners!

The majors created their game.  Blame MTV, the concomitant resurgence of Top Forty radio, media manipulation by Clive Davis and Tommy Mottola.  They’ve been so busy swinging for the fences, that’s all they know how to do.

Hell, they’ve fired all the little people who help you build slowly.

Sure, Kings Of Leon broke through, but how many other acts have been nurtured from obscurity to mainstream success?  You need immediate action, and at least gold at the end of the sales curve in order to continue to get attention.  So if you’re performing anything but mainstream music, if your act and music need time to develop, run from the major label system.

You’ve got to be willing to slog it out until you get lucky.  The major labels try to force luckiness.  But the hype and the fakery end up turning people off.  GaGa is so big, she’s got nowhere to go but down.  And there’s not another GaGa stealing attention.  It’s kind of like the Tiger Woods crisis, it festers forever in the public consciousness, because no one that big is willing to do something that stupid.  GaGa should be toning it down, reducing expectations in order to achieve longevity, instead we’ve got press stories about a billion video views…  Shit, anything that ubiquitous is headed for overload and ultimate obscurity.  Hell, ask my buddy Peter Frampton, he went for the gold after his big hit album, played to the masses with "I’m In You" and the "Sgt. Pepper" film, and still has regained neither his credibility nor sales.  Who to blame? Management!  Which steered him wrong.

How’s the major gonna steer you?

Are they even interested in you?

Are they going to be around long enough to see you through five albums?  Or, if the name remains, will the employees sustain?

Interesting times.

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