Sunday, May 25, 2008

Summer Sounds

A friend sent me an article recently, cause she's a good friend and loves to keep me on top of some industry postings I am likely to miss. You see, I'm not much of a reader. It's not because I can't's just cause I pretty much don't like to do it. But when this friend sends me articles, she's great about letting me know that either the whole thing is worth the read or directs me straight at what would likely be of interest.

That said, she sent me something from the NY Times this week that kinda got me going on a bit of a rant. Basically, I'm sick of the music industry pointing fingers are the consumers like we're some sort of idiot because we don't do what THEY think we should do. The article, titled "Summer Sounds" and speaks about a paradox in music with regard to record sales even though the summer is a great time for music. They also speak about how daring the industry is going to be this year by releasing major artists this summer to see if they can get rid of the problem of low record sales in the summer. The part of the article that set me off most (aside from the fact that they listed Solange Knowles amongst the viable artists to possible sell well this summer, cause really?! REALLY?!) was probably this little nugget:

For the music industry, however, summer has always been something of a paradox. It’s a crucial time for singles — there’s no better exposure for a pop song than to have it pumping out of Jeeps and boomboxes — but when it comes to albums, summer tends to be Tumbleweed City. To maximize sales around the year-end holidays, record companies often withhold big releases until the fall, leaving few major titles for July and August.

Let's face it, the entire music industry, as far as sales has been "Tumbleweed City" for a long while. It's no secret. Blame it on the Internet and file sharing or whatever. But it's high time that the industry take a mirror and point it back at itself rather than pointing the finger at us. It is my firm belief that if record major record labels started to shift from being so single driven, they might actually see a bit of a shift. It's true, the industry has been single driven for a long time. Remember the cassette single? 45s? BUT the difference is that even if you bought the single, a second one or third one or sometimes even a fourth would come from the same release and you'd be compelled to get the entire thing because there was so much good music from back to front on there that you wouldn't be disappointed. Nowadays, there's the song that's made it to radio or TV or a video game and you hear the entire CD and you're let down more often than not.

Now, I'm not gonna lie and say that if a CD was amazing from beginning to end there wouldn't still be an overwhelming amount of people who would still download it illegally cause times are hard, people don't have a lot of expendable income like they once did. BUT, everyone's a fan of someone...a big fan. And some people have a lot of fans and sure, even if you're a big fan of someone you might be apt to just illegally download and leave it at that but what if there's some sort of packaging or something that just cannot be ripped from the CD or something that is just intangible on the Internet? Wouldn't you find that $9.99 somewhere and head out to a Target the week of the release to have that in your hands? Or hey, maybe it doesn't even take that intangible for you to want to do that just because you enjoy someone's music so much, you're going to want the disc in your hands regardless.

Regardless is the keyword...regardless of the time of year. I love the spin that was put into that NY Times article. It's as if even if the biggest star around in previous years had put out a CD, it would still be "Tumbleweed City". I just can't wrap my head around the thought that this is true. I remember a few years back Nsync released "Celebrity" in July. It sold around 1.8 million the first week it was released (Ok, I reference them a lot on this blog but forgive me, it was the first CD that came to mind that sold amazing during the summer). Now sure, the days of selling that much in a week are long gone but it's not unheard of for an artist to sell at least 500,000 first week nowadays. Again, regardless of the time of year.

So, record industry (and NY Times) please stop fronting. I don't care what time of year you put out a CD. If it's something people are really digging and have really been waiting for (yeah, put a lock on who you give your shit to and you'd kinda stop that whole "leaking" problem you have), they'll buy it....whenever. And please, record industry, don't pretend like you're not just gonna re-release something that you put out in the Spring with an extra song or a DVD bonus and call it a "Deluxe" edition and STILL have something to sell in the fourth quarter at the Christmas rush, cause for sure, you will. Or maybe, just maybe, if a CD is THAT good and has 3 or 4 solid singles or hits and the artist is nurtured with videos, promotions, song placement and touring, people are STILL going to be discovering it and interested in it and buying it over a period of time and not JUST the first week like so many artists do now. Novel idea, huh?

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