My Album Release Diary: Reflecting On How We’ve Done So Far

Well, our album has been available for nine days now.  Perhaps it’s a little early to look back on the campaign as a whole but this is a point where I’ll look back and see how things have progressed so far.

In summary, first week album sales have been disappointing and are several hundred down on our album release this time last year.  Boo.  Then I looked at last weeks chart sales numbers for UK  music and compared them with a typical week in march 2014.

March 2014 (sales)
No 1 album – 72,644
No 5 album – 18,698
No 10 album – 12,529

Last week (sales – not adjusted for streaming)

No 1 album – 29,922
No 5 album – 10,054
No 10 album – 6.982

Obviously, no two weeks are ever alike but as you can see in 14 months there has been a massive drop in EVERYONE’S music sales.  Those figures are sobering aren’t they.  So, that is the musical ‘landscape’ that we find ourselves in, one of a rapid contraction of music sales.

The upper echelons of last weeks UK album chart. They don't sell as much as you'd think.

The upper echelons of last weeks UK album chart. They don’t sell as much as you’d think.

But is there more that I could have done?   Maybe upon reflection there are variables which might have made a difference.

  • We could have done with a longer pre-sales campaign.  We had three weeks, maybe we could have done with two months?
  •  We’ve changed our music genre for this album.  Perhaps such a stylistic change was too much of a curveball?
  •  Whilst not putting album on Spotify worked for Taylor Swift, it seems to have had a negligible effect with regards to sales for us.

In the long run, I still expect  to sell several thousand of the album (physically and digitally) at gigs and ‘eventually’ through our shop so whilst my pride has been a little dented I’m not discouraged.  It’s been good for me to reflect on what I’ve been doing as I’ve been doing it and I think that it has forced me to focus on activities and will undoubtedly inform my future strategies, hopefully yours too.

Perhaps the main point to take away is this: Music doesn’t ‘sell’ the way that it did (not even 12 months ago!) and as an artist you’d be foolish to focus on it as your main source of income .  As an artist however, everything still starts with your music.  It is the most important asset you have and it is the asset that all your other revenue streams are ultimately derived from.  it is also your main marketing tool.  Unfortunately, you can no longer rely on selling it in the numbers that you once did to your fans and making as music a simple ‘profit’ from it.

As artists I now think that we have to think of music as less of a cash cow and more as a ’loss leader’ and figure out how to make money from other revenue streams such as ticket sales, festival fees, merch sales, ‘experiences’ etc. This recent Guardian article bemoans the fact that festival ticket prices have shot up but is unable to fathom that this is due to the fact that artists fees have increased exponentially to offset falling revenue from music sales! 

Your festival ticket costs so much because nobody is buying the albums of the artists that are appearing there.

Your festival ticket costs so much because nobody is buying the albums of the artists that are appearing there.

People are seeing music as plentiful commodity they can access for free however they are still willing to pay for ‘scarce’ experiences that they value such as live music.
One important thing to remember: one individual ‘result’ doesn’t make a trend.  What happened to our band might not necessarily happen to you.  Every artist has their own individual audience demographic and their own individual set of circumstances.  Had this have been our 2nd or 5th album, who knows what the results might have been.  Indeed, we are less than two weeks in to the ‘campaign’ and in the last twenty four hours we’ve had two songs played on national radio station BBC 6 Music, so it’s early days.  To reinforce this fact, read this article published just today about how marketing releases is becoming more long term and interactive.

How streaming is changing music marketing

make sure you also read this follow up analysis article:

The music marketing plan of the future is longer term and more collaborative