You are an artist performing solo or within a band.
You decide to record an album.
You spend time and effort writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering your latest opus.
You do some promo and release it.
Then what do you do.
It doesn’t sell what you expected. Once upon a time, the definition of a successful act was based on how many records they sold.
Sebastian Bach still can’t get his head around why he has 800,000 Facebook Followers and only 6000 people in the U.S purchased his new album “Give Em Hell” in the opening week. For the record, it is a great album. I have heard the album, but I didn’t purchase it. I went to Spotify and streamed it.
So if it doesn’t sell as expected, it doesn’t that mean the album didn’t do well. What it means is that fans of music have consumed it in many different ways. I actually liked it enough to go onto Amazon and add it to my shopping cart. I haven’t purchased it yet. I will wait until the price drops below $10 before I do. And then it will go on the shelve in its wrapper.
In this day and age sales can never be used a metric for success. However, if there are songs there that are undeniable and an audience starts to resonate with those songs, then expect to sell.
Five Finger Death Punch came out in the piracy era. In the same era that has greedy corporations telling politicians that piracy is decimating the music industry.
Well, this piracy era hasn’t stopped Five Finger Death Punch from moving over 500,000 units in the U.S alone for each album. Yep that’s right, Five Finger Death Punch have been selling records since their debut album came out in 2007. Even the recent “Wrong Side of Heaven” Volumes 1 and 2 are moving close to the 500,000 mark for each of them. Combined these two albums have moved over 700,000 units.
So I am really over bands or artists who lament that no one buys their music. People do buy music. People do stream music. People do download music without paying for it.
And all of those people who access an artists music both legally and illegal will also invest in concert tickets and merchandise. They will even invest in REAL limited/deluxe edition perks. Not the kind of perks that just come with a DVD or a T Shirt.
Artists should take a leaf out of RatPak Records. They have various packages available with each release and at a price that isn’t extortion.
In my opinion, an album can be defined as a success if people are coming to the shows and singing the songs of the album.
WASP released “The Crimson Idol” in the early nineties. Commercially it didn’t do anything however if you talk to any WASP fan and I bet you they can sing the songs from that album. In 2014, it is seen as Blackie Lawless’s finest achievement.
Machine Head released “The Blackening” in 2007. It didn’t sell in the millions, however it allowed Machine Head to go on a three-year victory lap on the back of it, touring the world over and over and over again. It was hailed by Metal Hammer as the album of the decade. It is also seen as Machine Head’s definitive masterpiece.
One of my favourite independent bands “Digital Summer” have been managing their own career and their own releases with great success. Recently they just had a run of dates with Volbeat and Trivium. Prior to that, they have done tours with Shinedown, Three Days Grace, Three Doors Down and many other acts. They have done shows on their own. And they manage themselves. They finance their own recordings. They ask their fans to help out via fan funding campaigns. So big deal if their albums haven’t sold in the millions. They are over 10 years deep and still rocking.
So how do you know if an album is successful in 2014?
If people are listening to it, coming out to the shows and singing the songs.