Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mercury Prize: Not a guarantee of big sellers

A handy chunk of data has been made available by the Guardian, in spreadsheet take-it-and-mash format, detailing not just the winners of the Mercury, but also how well they sold and the highest chart position.

So, just three Mercury albums have been number one - Suede by Suede, Different Class by Pulp and Whatever People Say... by the Arctic Monkeys.

Only three have sold more than a million - Franz Ferdinand, Pulp and the Monkeys.

Only one album failed to make the top 40, and that's also the lowest-selling album of them all: Talvin Singh's OK.

So, we now know that the average sale of a Mercury Prize Winner is a bit over 500,000 - 580882, to be precise.

And the average chart position is 10.

A top ten record and half a million sales? It sounds like the very model of a tolerably well-performing record. Not too flash, not setting the bar so high that the performance of the next record will disappoint, but good enough to guarantee the label will pony up for it.