In my view the idea of the album is gone. It doesn’t fit in today’s world. Hell, it didn’t even fit in the old world either. Yes I know some albums are that good, that every song from start to finish had to be heard, however 95% of albums released have two to four, maybe five good songs on them. That is why we purchased them. To listen to those good songs. These days, we just purchase the songs we want, we don’t need the album. However, it remains, as that is how the record labels make money, that is how they trick artists into signing everything away. Artists are signed to album deals. Fans are smarter these days, then the music industry. Fans want to spend their money on artists, however the artists haven’t figured out how to monetize it.
Yes you have artists like Protest The Hero that went to Indiegogo to fan fund their next album. Yes I contributed. Not because they were offering some wam bam fan experience. I contributed because I am a fan, and I wanted their new album. I would have preferred if they had a better fan experience. I would have preferred if they had released a new song by now. I would have preferred if they had a listening party for the fans that contributed of rough demos and sketches or lyrics in progress. Instead I have to wait for the album, and it could be a turd. Or it could be great. Or it could be so, so.
Regardless, people still buy albums. As long as people buy albums, the labels will still order their artists to create and release them. This is where they make most of their money. Kid Rock has moved almost 475,000 physical units of Rebel Soul and is still shifting on average 7000 units a week. It has been out since November 2012.
Shinedown still move on average 3000 units a week for Amaryllis and this album is over a year old being released in March 2012. The band is also approaching the 300,000 sales mark. They are out in tour, working hard, promoting the album. POD and Three Days Grace are also on the same tour, however fans are not buying their offerings. Why. Its crap. I heard the POD album and its garbage. Three Days Grace – Transit of Venus was that bad, even the singer left.
Both Shinedown and Kid Rock are on Atlantic. That is almost 8 million in sales revenue these two bands have come up with, plus they are still bringing in 100,000 each week. Not a bad deal for the label.
Volbeat still move on average 2500 units a week of Beyond Hell/Above Heaven. This album has been out since September 2010. All up they have sold over 220,000 units in the US for this album and their new album Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies was just released this week and it is a good album, however it does have quite a few filler songs as well. Not a lot of bands have two albums three years apart still charting and selling. The fans are spreading the word for this band. The bands mix of metal, punk, rockabilly, country and reggae has found a market. They have worked hard, they are platinum heroes in Europe and have been since 2005, and they have broken into the US market in the last year or so. It’s been a long time coming.
However in all of this I don’t believe the bands are maximising the fan experience. I am including Bon Jovi in this as well. It’s still the old way of doing things. That is they spend months and months recording 15 to 20 songs for an album, and then spending dollars on marketing the album to people that don’t care, hoping that people will buy and releasing a video or two to keep interest up. Once interest starts to dissolve, it’s time to go on tour, with the thought that the album will start selling again because of the tour. There is a lot of hope in the above as the bands don’t know their fan bases. They need to change their way of thinking.
Warner Music is even going via the fan funding route with Kickstarter. They will offer every act that raises $100,000 on Kickstarter a contract. There is a good chance that most acts will turn down the offer, as why would you need a label if you have raised over $100,000 however people do love to have a safety net and an ego to satisfy. There also another way, where if a band gets 1000 people to donate, they will get offered the deal as well. Warners has effectively moved the cost of recording and developing artists onto the fans. If the artists fail, there is no loss to Warner. If they blow up and become sensations, there is a win to Warner. Either way, Warner doesn’t suffer.
And the reason why I am mentioning this. Warner Music is the parent company to Atlantic Records. The music business is about to change again.