Less than stellar album sales from major label recording artists can have haunting after effects. Madonna is still catching flack for having one of the biggest drop in second week sales for MDNA (2012), and while record sales aren’t particularly a determining factor in staying power in the digital era of music, they can have quite a nightmare-esque effect on an artist in the hands of one of the big three music companies.
Today, we take a look at two examples of artists who released albums on September 25th, 2012 to negative selling results: Kreayshawn and Nelly Furtado.
Columbia Records: Somethin’ ‘Bout Kreay is the debut release from California female rapper Kreayshawn and debuted to estimated sales of around 3,900 on it’s first sale week, placing the ironically electronic-pop/rap genre hopping album at 112 on the Billboard Top 200 albums. Known for her web series on her official YouTube channel and underground hit “Gucci Gucci,” it’s come as a surprise that she has the second lowest opening week sales by a major label artist ever. The lowest? MTV VJ’s Jesse Camp - Jesse and the 8th Street Kidz.
One of the most important facts to consider is that Kreayshawn’s internet presence is still very large. 2011′s “Gucci Gucci” has racked up over 38 million YouTube views and the 2012 promotional singles for “Breakfast (Syrup),” and “Go Hard” hold a combined total of over 3 million. Also, as chronicled through light-hearted video tour diaries, she’s been toured all over Europe and Japan to large crowds.
However, if you look passed the paragraph above you’ll find almost no other large promotional means for Kreayshawn, especially not domestically.
Does Kreayshawn care about sales? Her Twitter says no.
Interscope Records: Also released this week was the supposedly anticipated release of pop veteran Nelly Furtado’s The Spirit Indestructible. However, with a debut at number 79 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart with sales only slightly higher than Kreayshawn, with sales below 6,000.
Nelly Furtado has always been an underdog on the music scene. Her sophomore record Folklore succeeded internationally but was hardly embraced by the U.S. music scene and it seems as though her fourth English studio album is falling in the Folklore footsteps. It features production that’s primarily pop, but strays for a hard, minimal sound with stomping rhythmic structures and Furtado’s compressed, crass, unique vocals. It’s clear that Nelly’s style isn’t always fit the mold of the current popstar and because of it, radio unfortunately didn’t seem to pick up on “Big Hoops (The Bigger The Better)” and follow up title track single.
Like Kreayshawn, outside of YouTube videos, a few shows and radio interviews, Furtado’s U.S. marketing efforts were almost nowhere to be found. In fact, it’s almost as though they were hoping to bank on the success of her mega-hit Loose (which debuted with 200,000+ in it’s opening week) as it was mostly mentioned by journalists that The Spirit Indestructible is her first proper album in over six years.
This wouldn’t make sense though, as anyone could see that the return of Nelly Furtado would need more in terms of marketing. Her featured vocals on “The Morning After Dark” by Timbaland and “Who Wants To Be Alone” by Tiesto, as well as “Night Is Young” from her 2010 Greatest Hits collection came to critical liking, but not as much commercial success.
Summary: It is quite strange how these two projects have been handled. Kreayshawn is debuting her first full length album, while Furtado is a reigning veteran in the music industry at this point. To see two albums not succeed in terms of sales seems to split the blame on music, label, and the evolving industry that music seems to forever be caught in.
Regardless, the two artists will continue working properly and it’s not the end of their careers or world. Neither of them seem bothered, but it’s sadly been a hot topic in the media world for both individuals. 2020k enjoys examining the music business structures, especially for popular artists as the marketing campaigns can normally be pretty elaborate. It is going to be interesting to see how the major labels are going to handle their album (and possibly future albums) from here on out.
Topic to think About: Is sound to blame? What we’re interested in is if the loudness war also had any effect on driving listeners away. While we’re unsure of both of these albums dynamic range ratings, it’s quite clear upon a listen of any song off either album that the records are mixed incredibly hot. There hasn’t really been that much study on how the mixing of a record weaves itself into the psyche of a listener. In fact, it’s always been perceived by the labels that louder is better.
We’d like to see some psychological studies in the future on the effects of compression and limiting to a master track and the emotional effects it could have on the listener. Anyone out there willing to take on the task?