There is a great article over at the Metal Insider website.
If you are too lazy to click on the link, the article covers the biggest selling metal and rock albums for 2015.
From the results, it’s pretty obvious that metal and rock fans like to purchase music. There is still a collectors mindset there. What’s even more fascinating is that a lot of the albums that have sold a decent amount in 2015 were not even released in 2015.
NOTE: The figures are based on U.S sales.
“Master of Puppets” was released in 1986 and in 2015 it sold 107,800 units. The self-titled “Metallica” album released in 1991 has sold another 77,100 units in 2015. It is well on its way to 17 million units sold in total.
Now think about for a second.
All of Metallica’s music is available on streaming services for paid subscriptions and for free. All of their music is available for downloading via legal options and illegal options. And they still continue to sell.
A band’s longevity is based around the need to replenish their fan base year after year. If you are not doing that then expect to play smaller venues. Dokken and Ratt are two bands that come to mind who haven’t replenished their fan bases from the Eighties. Both bands in the Eighties had platinum sales and played arenas. Today, they have almost no sales and play clubs. Of course, not having the main creative forces in the current version of the band plays a part, however, even if Lynch and Pilson or Pearcy and Croucier did rejoin Dokken and Ratt respectively, it doesn’t mean that millions of people would be interested.
Metallica, however is doing a good job at replenishing their fan base based on their selected live performances in new markets and in markets that have high rates of piracy. They basically have a whole new generation of music fans who more or less consumed the music of Metallica for free and in most cases illegally. However, that still hasn’t stopped them from selling music and concert tickets.
As business people, the move to their own label “Blackened Recordings” was a no-brainer.
The record is how it all starts. It hooks the audience in. Anyone born in the Nineties, will know Metallica as the conformist poster artist for the labels in the Napster case. Anyone born in the Seventies and early Eighties know Metallica as a non-conformist band that pushed boundaries.
The whole Napster kerfuffle in the end just showed why it was not a good idea for Metallica to get in the way of people experiencing their music. However, they have learnt that by making their music available everywhere, they see better returns in other areas.
As an artist, it is a privilege for people to listen to your music. Respect that.
“Back In Black” from AC/DC was released in 1980. In 2015 so far, it has sold 110,000 units in the U.S. The new album, “Rock Or Bust”, released in 2014, has sold 143,400 units in 2015. Put it down to the band being on the road and building awareness of the new album. It just goes to show that the blanket marketing campaigns before the album release date, the Grammy appearance and all of the other medical issues/jail issues in the media meant nothing in 2015.
You see, when the music eco system was controlled by the record labels, the marketing blitz by the labels meant something. In 2015, it means nothing.
From the 2015 releases, Breaking Benjamin’s “Dark Before Dawn” has sold 209,000 units so far, Marilyn Manson’s “The Pale Emperor” has sold 124,200 units so far and Halestorm’s “Into The Wild Life” has sold 114,500 units so far.
From the 2014 releases, Foo Fighters “Sonic Highways” album has sold 87,800 in 2015, for total sales in 480,000 so far. Slipknot’s “5: The Gray Chapter” has sold 84,000 units in 2015, for total sales of 344,000 units. Nickelback’s “No Fixed Address” album has sold 101,000 units in 2015. Like the Foo Fighters it is approaching Gold status.
Led Zeppelin continues to be a selling machine, so why would they create new music when Copyright grants them and the owners of their songs, rights for the next 110 years to exploit the works.
In case you are wondering “Led Zeppelin 4” sold 75,000 units and “Physical Graffiti” sold 112,400 units in 2015.
Kid Rock’s debut “Devil Without A Cause” is still selling. For 2015 alone, it has moved 86,000 units. Add that to the other 10 million units it has sold so far.
So what is all of the above telling us.
Eventually people will pay, however if a piece of music that people want to check out is not available for free, they will turn away until it becomes convenient. Don’t expect people to pay just because you want them too.
And for all of those critics saying the new bands cannot attain the same level of success as their Seventies and Eighties counterparts, well have a look at some other stats.
As influential as Black Sabbath was to metal music, they are being outsold by Linkin Park, Korn and even Limp Bizkit.
Also for all of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley’s comments about rock being dead because no one is buying recorded music, well, Kiss has never really been a big seller of recorded music anyway. Their 21 million is pretty tame compared to Metallica’s 62 million. In the end, the live show is where it’s at. Deliver there and make that show a cultural event, the sky is the limit.