Interpreting The Soundscan Numbers

I feel like almost everything in the previous post needs some kind of contextual caveat. Some of those numbers were for first-week sales — M.I.A. and Sting have healthy numbers there, School of Seven Bells is far more modest but okay given how obscure they are, limited marketing, etc. Wavves looks very, very bad for a third-week tally, but those are digital-only sales. Even still, I think those are low numbers and I don’t really expect that album to break out in a meaningful way, though it’ll probably end up doing about as well as Surfer Blood and Local Natives. It definitely seems like those types of records succeed on the “Long Tail” model. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Christina Aguilera’s album is considered to be a major flop in major label superstar terms, but on scale, 200k isn’t bad for an album with no hits. (Gorillaz, at 300k, is also a major label act but comes with far lower expectations, and so Plastic Beach can be considered an unqualified hit.) Not many artists go platinum (1,000,000) these days, so you can consider anything in the vicinity of gold certification (500,000) a hit album. (Phoenix’s album from last year is nearing gold status, it’ll probably happen before the end of 2010.) When you adjust your expectations away from the old status quo of the record industry, you can see that bands like Spoon and The National are modest successes, and that LCD Soundsystem, Big Boi, and Janelle Monae are on track to do about as well. Sleigh Bells is selling pretty good, they’ve got some solid momentum. They should consider making some proper music videos, I think that would help.

  1. bwall05 said: Or they should just license the Jerri Blank “Rill Rill” video.
  2. perpetua posted this