Tuesday, March 10, 2009

U2: Spinning disappointment into a victory

Hey, you - yes, you. You're hearing all that stuff about how disappointing the sales of the U2 album is, right? Well, it's not true. Or, at least, that's what Paul McGuinness, manager, would have you believe:

"The first week, we think it'll be very close to half a million, a little under," Paul McGuinness told Reuters, following a U2 radio broadcast at a Hollywood record label.
[...]
McGuinness, who has steered U2 for almost 31 years, said the sales decline was "a sign of the times" amid the recording industry's decadelong decline.

"And what people in this country don't realize is that the American industry is collapsing at a far quicker rate than in the rest of the world. In Europe, sales of physical material are holding up far better. They're in decline, but not as rapidly as in America."

Given that the record has also been doing sluggish business in the UK and Ireland, the response to this would seem to be "and?" - even if what he was saying was true.

Last June, Lil Wayne managed 900,000 in release week. Nine Inch Nails counted 700,000 first week transactions - some of which were free, admittedly. Coldplay did 721,000. The Jonas Brothers did over 700,000 sales. The Jonas Brothers, whose audience is the young, tech-savvy, download-heavy young folk who supposedly don't buy music but steal it as fast as they can cram it into their portable terabyte hard-drives.

Still, all those figures were in 2008. Perhaps things got really tough just after Christmas, eh, Bono?

This might also be worrying for U2, though, from today's Times:
Expectations are high for [Faryl Smith's] self-titled debut. The record has led the pre-sale charts on Amazon.co.uk and 80,000 copies have been shipped to retailers in advance of going on sale — more than U2's latest album.

When people are more excited about someone off Piers Morgan Says Opportunity Knocks than a band who have effectively had the BBC handed to them for a week of promotional activity, you might want to think about adjusting your humility ratings.


2 comments:

scribblercraig said...

As an album, even the most die-hard U2 fans seem to be struggling to like it and I wonder if the choice of first single lead to more people holding off or listening to tracks online and thinking 'not for me'.

Recent U2 albums have taken multiple listens for people to start to really enjoy the tracks - I wonder if in this case, people have neither the time or desire to do so.

(speaking as a fan who has all the albums, heard this one and passed and will do so with the live show)

Having said that, has piracy been blamed by them yet?

Cobardon said...

I'd agree with that scribblercraig - I've got all the albums too, but might just get this one as I did the last couple: months later in a sale somewhere. I've heard four tracks from the new one, of which one sounded good and three, bleah. The single was really dull too, and I'm sure that's a bigger factor than any other in the album sellingly in a mediocre fashion: if your main ad for the new product is a poor one, who's gonna bother with it?

Rather like the last REM album which was heralded as a huge return to form but, a few aside, just sounded like the same dull songs as on the couple albums before, only faster.

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