A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Sales in 84 vs Sales in 90

In 1984, over 360 million units of recorded music got sold in the US.

In 1986, about 280 million units of recorded music got sold in the US. A huge reduction from 2 years ago.

By 1988, about 300 million units of recorded music gold sold in the US. Still a reduction from 1984, but an increase from 1986.

By 1990, about 320 million units of recorded music got sold in the US, with the majority of sales made up from CD purchases.

Between 1984 and 1990 there was a reduction of 11% in overall sales of recorded music however a big increase in dollars as CDs started to replace vinyl and had a better return for the labels which they kept in their balance sheets as a return on investment.

So if a band moved a million units of vinyl in 1984, and provided they still stuck together, you would expect their album in 1990 would sell about 890,000 units based on the trends.

And that same band who moved a million units in 1984 had a high chance of selling 834,000 units for their next album in 1986 because the reduction was even greater between these two years.

In relation to hard rock and metal, some bands had bigger reductions in sales than the 11%, some bands didn’t make it to 1990 and some bands bucked the trend and had an increase in sales.

Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister and Ratt are three bands that come to mind which followed this kind of trajectory. High selling albums circa 1983/84 to low selling albums or to just ceasing to be even together by 1990.

“Out Of The Cellar” by Ratt sold 2 million units in 1984 and “Detonator” their most solid album, only sold 500K by December 1990.

Van Halen’s “1984” album sold 4 million by October of the same year. “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” sold 2 million in 1991 when it came out.

“Eliminator” from ZZ Top came out in 1983 and by the end of the year it had sold a million units and by the end of 1984, it had sold 4 million units which means it moved 3 million units for that year. “Recycler” only moved a million units in 1990 when it came out.

Meanwhile, Bon Jovi went from a band who couldn’t move 500,000 units of their debut album in 1984 to selling 3 million units in 1986 with “Slippery When Wet”.

So when you think about the 22.2% reduction in sales from 1984 to 1986, Bon Jovi went against the trend here. With a reduced music buying public, they grabbed a larger share of it, more so than the other bands. And that large share, still provides Jovi with his victory lap.

And Jon Bon Jovi’s “Blaze Of Glory” album moved 2 million units in 1990.

And when fans of Quiet Riot heard “Condition Critical” and “QRIII”, it was a no brainer to jump ship and move to a better sounding and catchy band like Bon Jovi and Europe.

Actually Europe in 1986 didn’t sell much in the US, however by the end of 1987, they moved 2 million units in the US of “The Final Countdown” album.

However their “Prisoners In Paradise” album, didn’t even get to 500K units in 1992.

Motley Crue didn’t buck the trend either as their peak was “Shout At The Devil”. “Theatre Of Pain” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” became album’s to get the band back on the road because bands on occasions have low selling albums but tours that do great business at the box office. It wasn’t until “Dr Feelgood” hit the streets that Motley Crue went against the statistics and sold a lot more than others.

Iron Maiden is a band who didn’t sell multi millions of an album, but they cashed in on the live business and merchandise. Kiss as well.

In the end the base of hard core music consumers in the 80s who purchased music has stayed on average year after year. The only difference is we kept on shifting our allegiances.

The cost of purchasing music increased with CD’s and there was a period when CDs started to takeover people sort of stopped purchasing because of the price.

However when the 70s and 80s generation had grown up and started to repurchase their vinyl collections in the 90’s you get to that magical summit that the record labels always allude to when they talk about pre Napster. Between the years 1999 and 2002, CD units stayed above 900 million units.

And through it all, the record labels and the artists had no idea who their fans were. All they knew was a sale happened. If that sale led to the person listening to the album thousands of times or just once was not known.

So even though an artist might have sold 30,000 units in a city, it didn’t correlate to 30,000 fans. Hard rock bands in the late 80s had to cancel shows or play to half full arenas in cities where their record based on sales stats, sold well. But streaming stats tell the artist who is listening and from which city they are listening. A connection is made immediately.

P.S. Sale stats by RIAA Gold and Platinum database.

P.S.S. The total units sold came from the graph in this Spin article titled “Did Vinyl Really Die In The 90s”.

P.S.S.S. I started this post a while back and kept on returning to it, doing a little bit more than previously and sometimes I struggled with it.

But it all came together recently when a fellow blogger called Deke over at Thunder Bay listed his Top 10 posts of 2018 and he linked to a blog post over at 1001 Albums in 10 years.

And it all made sense how you can use a little bit of math to get your point across. So thanks to the WordPress Bloggers for posting and sharing their minds.

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A to Z of Making It, Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories, Piracy

The New Music Labels

There are a lot of discussions happening around the film industry.

For example, would the new Star Wars movie be better served as a HBO/AMC/NETFLIX/etc TV Series?

Instead of a two-hour movie for Episode 7, would it serve the Star Wars story line better if it followed the Game Of Thrones formula and produced ten 1 hour episodes.

Two hours vs Ten Hours.

What would the customers want?

In relation to music, Napster pretty much showed the recording industry what customers want. More single songs than a slab of songs.

It’s pretty obvious that CD’s are not making a comeback. Yes, they are still selling, however so is vinyl. Both niche markets for the time being. The majority of the listeners have moved to streaming services, digital downloads, YouTube or P2P downloading. Whatever the method used to consume music, access is the key word.

Do we want to watch a movie in our home theatres or do we want to put up with dirty Cinema’s, people talking and deciding that the movie experience was the perfect time for them to have a Subway Roll, Satay Chicken from the Thai restaurant next door or some other kind of lunch/dinner.

What people want is instant access. But the content providers would rather sell 5 movie tickets ONCE to my family than get a percentage cut from a monthly license fee from a streaming service over and over and over and over again.

The content providers would rather sell my family ONE Blu-Ray/DVD than get a percentage cut from a monthly license fee from a streaming service over and over and over and over again.

I was talking to me kids about a movie called “Who’s Harry Crumb?” a few days ago. It got them excited to watch it. So i pulled up Netflix, searched for it and it is not there.

Bummer.

Did I got out and buy a copy of it?

Of course not. We just moved on to another movie, which in this case was “The Replacements”.

Same deal with music.

The best emails I get are the ones from Spotify when they tell me a certain album from the bands I follow is available for streaming;

In the last week, those emails have covered the following releases;

  • Survival by TesseracT
  • The Book Of Souls by Iron Maiden
  • Got Your Six by Five Finger Death Punch
  • Life, Love, Loss by Degreed
  • Here To Mars by Coheed and Cambria
  • Love, Fear and the Time Machine by Riverside

I remember the old days when we all rushed to the record store or to the cinema so we could purchase the latest music or watch the latest movie just to be part of the conversation. Why would I want those days back again.

Change is happening quicker than ever before.

We went from Napster to iTunes to YouTube to Spotify. We went from MySpace to Facebook to Twitter and back to Facebook. The major labels have withered down to three. The movie studios are doing the same.

Watch out for television to do the same. Funny thing to note, is that the channels leading the way, are channels that originally started off licensing movies from the Hollywood studios. HBO, AMC, Showtime and Netflix found out that original programming is where it’s at. Create a show that connects and watch it become part of the cultural conversation. Amazon is now involved and Apple is due to enter this market.

So what does this have to do with music and artists?

Expect Spotify to lead the way and start signing up artists because even though artists can cut a record without a major label or corporation behind them, they cannot be heard without the help of the label machine. There is a lot of money in music if you control the copyrights of artists you break through. Spotify can break an artist, they just need to start signing them and developing them.

It’s just a shame that the power players in music would rather spend their resources and monies to shut down illegal music websites through the Courts while websites controlled by terrorist like ISIS are allowed to operate. It’s a shame that the power players in music have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new digital world post Napster.

Especially when illegal music websites have allowed fans of certain styles of music to access bands they never could before. Metallica and Iron Maiden are two examples of illegal music websites growing their fan bases in countries where they sold no physical product.

So what did these bands do with that high rate of P2P piracy?

They toured those countries.

Being an artist is a business and making money in a business is hard.

The good thing for musicians today, is that all of the craziness that happened since Napster is all over. Musicians now know what the recording industry looks like and how it all hangs together within the music industry. In my view, the current ecosystem would remain stable for the next 50 years or so.

The big change that would happen is when technology companies like Spotify, Apple, Pandora, Google and Samsung get into signing and developing new artists. When these techies become like labels they will be powerful. Because of the data which they will have and control. Will the record labels then start to litigate against these techies.

Once these companies become like labels, expect them to enter the live arena as promoters. Apple and Spotify are both involved in the festivals scene.

Times they are a changing.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Does a band have customers or fans? Read on metal heads and find out.

A customer is a person who purchases goods or services from another. A fan is an ardent admirer of a pop star, film actor, football team, etc.

So how can a band turn fans into satisfied customers that keep on coming back, again and again?

You ask any artist what kind of fan/customer they want and I guarantee you they will say statements like the following;
Fans who are loyal
Fans who spread the word
Fans who spend money on record music, concerts and merchandise
Fans who spend money on concert tickets
Fans who spend money on merchandise
Fans who interact with the band

So if artists want fans then the artists need to do more than just satisfying them. They need to bring the WOW factor to everything they do.

A lot of artists and their representatives come up with loads of dazzling ideas and packages however they are still rooted in the old record label business models.

For example;

Dream Theater has been pushing the same Super Deluxe packages since “Black Clouds and Silver Linings”. The packages have more or less been in the same format, same items and for the same price.

Avenged Sevenfold did a similar package for the “Hail To The King” album.

Five Finger Death Punch didn’t.

Trivium had album and merchandise specials happening.

Coheed and Cambria focused on the Deluxe packages.

Protest The Hero focused on their Indiegogo campaigners and the perks involved with that campaign.

What would have happened if the bands “under promised and over delivered”?

Imagine the service Roadrunner and Dream Theater would have done by giving the fans that purchased the Super Deluxe packages, a site to download the mp3’s when they found out the album leaked on the internet.

Protest The Hero did exactly that. As soon as the band found out about the leak on torrent sites, they went into action. I guess it helps to know who your fans are and to have that data handy.

Customer satisfaction is artists delivering on promises, like releasing a product when they say they are going to release it. Cough Cough, Live at Luna Park DVD.

Artists are doing exactly as they said they would and fans/customers are satisfied.

Imagine if the customers get something more than they expect, like more options, early delivery, a special download site when the album leaks, additional perks attached to the orders, access to demo’s or ideas that didn’t get developed further – I would expect the artist to end up with a very loyal and more than satisfied customer base, that can propel them into the next level of success.

It’s a simply idea. When we get a service that we don’t expect, rather than a service that we do expect the payoff can be enormous.

However under promising is not just about throwing in extras and doing things faster.

If the album is being released on Thursday 13 December, make the mp3 download available a week earlier to the fans that purchased the Super Deluxe package. “Great news, we wanted you to have the music as soon as possible. Click on the below link to download an mp3 rip of the album. No extra charge.”

It’s simple, all bands need to do is change their promise and watch satisfied customers become devoted customers. What do you think Lady Gaga and Kate Perry where doing with their “leaks” and then bringing the album release date forward. They were employing the under promise over deliver business model.

Every artist needs to be looking at making their fans become customers.

“Our audience are fans first and customers second. We really try not to annoy them.”
The above quote is from Stefan Mennerich, Bayern Munich Director of New Media, Media Rights & IT.

A soccer/football club is no different to a band or an artist. The devotion is there.

“You have to think about what the consumers want and tailor the experience to their unique interests. And the experience is also very different depending on the platform the consumer is using.”
The above quote is from Ken Fuchs, Head of Entertainment, Sports and Games at Yahoo!

This is how the record labels tailor the experience.

PRODUCT A is coming out on DATE XXXX.
IT COSTS $$$$.
PRE-ORDER it now at iTunes, Best Buy, Amazon.

Wow, what an experience for the fan.

Imagine if the above experience was tweaked.

BAND A is releasing a PRODUCT A in three weeks’ time.
GO to YOUTUBE now and watch a recording of BAND A performing the songs live in the studio. That same recording is available to be downloaded as an AVI file and an MP3 rip via BitTorrent.

BAND A is releasing a PRODUCT A in two weeks’ time.
Go to YOUTUBE now and watch the latest video clip.

MP3 downloads are available for the Super Deluxe Package orders RIGHT NOW. That’s right, this is 2 weeks before the actual release date.

BAND A is releasing a PRODUCT A in two weeks’ time.
We have a special MP3 deal from our website. For $5 you get an mp3 rip of the album, regardless of your geographical location. This is a two week sale before the official release date.

One week before the release date, the album is available for STREAMING at YouTube, Spotify, iTunes Radio and Pandora.

The sad thing is no band with major label backing would do the above because for some insane reason they still believe that the charts matter.

DREAM THEATER LIVE AT LUNA PARK DVD IS #1. THE NEW DVD FROM THE GRAMMY-NOMINATED BAND IS CURRENTLY ATOP THE SOUNDSCAN DVD CHART.

See what I mean.

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