Saturday, October 13, 2012

600,000


            That’s the biggest story in the music industry right now. After paltry #1 records with a few tent poles, how does a band like Mumford and Sons come out of the gate that large with only their sophomore LP Babel? After all, 2011 started with the lowest #1 album of all-time, Showroom of Compassion by my beloved group Cake, which only had 44,000 in sales in its first week. Bob Lefsetz tellsthe story in a recent post about the October 13th Billboard 200chart. What he relates is that people thought the album as a format was done but now out of nowhere comes this independent band from England that pulls numbers like it’s the 1990s. Sure a few albums have topped a million their first week, well putting them in the top 20 for Billboard 200 debuts. They have come from artists with a proven track record of success or with a gimmick to help with album sales. Both was the case with Lady Gaga’s album Born This Way, which debuted with 1.1 million sales but 440,000 of those came from a promotion where Amazon.com sold the album for 99 cents.  Born This Way also was the highest debut album since 2005’s The Massacre by 50 Cent.
            But the numbers are only part of the story, the truth is Mumford and Sons’ 600,000 sold is that it’s the largest debut by an artist on an independent label. Mumford and Sons’ first LP, Sigh No More, never charted above number 2 on the Billboard 200. Granted that album did sell 1.4 million copies in 2011 alone, not to add in the copies sold in the previous 2 years it had been available. But 600,000 in the first week is a feat that couldn’t even be done but some of the major labels’ claimed saviors such as the Jay-Z and Kanye West collaboration Watch The Throne, which only had 436,000, and teen heartthrob Justin Bieber, whose 2012 album, Believe, only debuted with 347,000 sold. Lefsetz goes on to say it might be a sign of revolution; that people are becoming tired of processed pop music. I don’t believe we’re at that point yet. But if this is a renaissance of music with heart and coupled with Adele and Arcade Fire’s recent Grammy award triumphs, proof that there is room for independent labels and artists, then I welcome it with open arms.