Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Sales Pitch

This is nothing to do with literature, I'm afraid. But was fascinated (sad!) to read the sales figures for the top 200 albums of the year. Frighteningly, 2.4 million copies of the James Blunt album were sold in the UK in 2005. Imagine that, 2.4 million people going in and asking for/handing over James Blunt. I didn't know there were that many "Smug marrieds" in the country (and what of those who'd already bought the single?) How many households are there? Around 25 million? That's 1 in 10! Its not about literature, I know but I've made the point several times that good writing needs to understand the zeitgeist. Clearly, a book set in 2005 could well be soundtracked by "Your Beautiful" however ghastly it might be. (Richard Curtis can write that one!) More intriguing is that the best reviewed Rolling Stones album for 20 years has only sold 109, 000 copies. That's how many completist fans they've got left - at most - probably a fraction of those who will see them live this year... and as for hype, don't believe it. Inverse proportion of tabloid inches to record sales must go to Pete Doherty whose Babyshambles debut album managed just 91,000 sales - less than his previous album with the Libertines still ratcheted up in '05. It just goes to show that you have to be consistent to your brand - the tabloid readers of the Pete 'n' Kate show were never going to be sticking "Down in Albion" in behind "Back to Bedlam"; and those who bought Kaiser Chiefs, Hard Fi and Franz Ferdinand in droves clearly aren't influenced by the papers. The industry - same as the publishing industry - is all about sating current appetites, so compilations aside, the only "old" albums to make it into the top 200 were by classics by Oasis, Pink Floyd and Nirvana. We may, it seems finally be over the sixties...

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