After today, the media hurricane surrounding the release of Coldplay’s X&Y will slowly downgrade to tropical storm status and then to catalog status. Its winds will pick up around phase two of its U.S. tour and may kick up around the busy Christmas selling season, but in most respects media outlets will end with the articles about
singer Chris Martin’s reluctant superstar dilemmas,
“>his hatred of the system of publicly owned corporations , and
his superstar wife. After a few blockbuster weeks they’ll stop postulating about how
this release may energize sluggish CD sales —because it won’t. Not in the long term.
There’s a camp of dissenting voices that longs for the hurricane to die down soon. You see, Coldplay backlash is among us. Jon Pareles of the New York Times stands among the dissenters. His article
“The Case Against Coldplay” ran on the front page of Saturday’s New York Times Arts section. (On the back page of the Arts section was a full-page ad for X&Y and some upcoming concerts. Stereogum captured the opposing pages at his blog by spreading out the Arts section and snapping
a picture.) Pareles called them “the most insufferable band of the decade,” which is ten times nicer than some things being written in backlash-heavy music blogs.
DVDs In Perspective
Labels and music retailers are pinning more than a few hopes on the DualDisc format to revive sluggish sales of physical music formats. The CD has stalled and online downloads aren’t promising enough to prevent major music companies from wanting to shack up and cut costs. Why are things so tough? Look no further than the competition a few aisles away: DVDs. Case in point: The second season of the Dave Chappelle show just came out on DVD. For many Americans it was the kind of event that mandated an immediate purchase and ample couch time over Memorial Day weekend. How many Americans bought it? A staggering
500,000 on the first day and 1.2 million over the first week of release. That was a record for a television DVD package. Keep in mind that the title has a suggested list price of $36.99. (It’s being sold at Amazon.com for $25.89.) Coldplay’s X&Y would surprise many if it sold much more than 500,000 in its first week of release while carrying a sub-$12 price tag at many retailers. That’s as many $12 CDs in one week as Chappelle DVDs— at twice the price —sold in the first day alone.
Digital piracy is a problem for the music industry, no doubt about it. DVDs are another problem. When 1.2 million people in the first week go out and buy a DVD set of a television show they’re already seen, labels have got to be scratching their collective heads wondering what it will take to get consumers equally excited about buying music. There are three titles released today that could qualify as summer blockbusters—new albums by Coldplay, Black Eyed Peas, and the White Stripes—but none will come close to Chappelle’s first month sales. Albums are not made or broken in the first four weeks, and though everybody in the industry knows this, it doesn’t take any pressure off. DVDs rule.
Speaking of the White Stripes, the president of their U.S. label, V2, had a retort for the ages after Hits Magazine hinted that the label was too short-staffed to properly set up the duo’s new album, Get Behind Me Satan . Check out
the entire email at my blog.
Rolling Stone’s Bill Werde is the first journalist to employ the post-Watergate skepticism that all writers strive to employ when he
“>objectively looked at Linkin Park’s complaints at Warner Music Group . Rather than print quote after quote by a disgruntled rock band posturing for a better contract, Werde talked to managers of other bands signed to Warner Music Group. What he found was that they did not share Linkin Park’s negative opinion of the company’s ability to properly market records after cutting costs. Said the manager of The Flaming Lips, “I haven’t seen a difference at the label over the last few years.” Good to see that somebody is still practicing sound journalism and not just reacting to press releases.
Glenn works in the music industry in New York City. He writes about the industry and music in general at his blog,