Bob Lefsetz has a deliciously waspish commentary on the 100 best-selling albums this year:
33. Madonna "Hard Candy" 673,475
I bet she’s pissed. She did everything in her power to make this record a hit. Worked with the flavors of the day… But she’s an oldies act, who’s overcharging and playing venues too big and not selling out.
Love to see her squirm.
That less than three quarters of a million figure, by the way, is sales in the US. Not the UK. Presumably she's hoping that if Guy is no longer her husband, he'll have to buy the next record and she needs every sale she can get.
The best seller so far this year in the US?
1. Lil Wayne "Tha Carter III" 2,671,816
Do we want to focus on the Internet marketing campaign (i.e. the steady release of free product), the discounts/free goods to retail, the fact that a hip-hop album is number one or the low total gross. I choose to look at this final fact. There’s not a lot of road business. A 360 deal with most rappers won’t help your bottom line. Lil Wayne’s the king, but it’s not the domain it used to be.
Calling him a king is a bit much - the US albums market is barely a Dukedom right now.
The takeaway fact?
[E]asy riches are out of the industry’s grasp. The nineties are history. The golden age of pigs at the trough are done. You’d better make good music that appeals to an audience that is willing to listen to you for years. You’d better be willing to get your money on the installment plan instead of all up front. You’d better realize this is no longer the lottery, but a business based on bunts and singles instead of grand slams.
Nobody is buying albums any more, because nobody needs to. The public have been freed from subsidising filler.