Lionel Richie, sold 200,000 copies of his “Tuskegee” album, his best debut in 20 years. Madonna‘s “MDNA” album is expected be the number 1 album in the country this week – the final numbers will come in later today. Unlike Lionel Richie, Madonna will bundle album with ticket sales to lock down the number 1 spot.

It turns out that a hefty number of “MDNA” albums weren’t sold the usual way. Madonna’s label, Interscope, and Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, bundled the album with her ticket sales. For every ticket sold online to Madonna’s upcoming shows, purchasers automatically receive a copy of “MDNA.” They get a link to a free purchase on ITunes, or they can send in their mailing address for a physical CD. It doesn’t matter if the concert ticket is $52 or $350. It’s a smart marketing move for Interscope. It unnaturally inflates sales, and uses “MDNA” for what albums have become–souvenirs, or loss leaders. (Forbes)

Is it fair to artists on the chart who didn’t “bundle”?

Last year, retailers and others objected when did a 99 cent promotion with Lady Gaga for her “Born this Way” album. But Interscope (again Interscope) sold their bulk of CDs in first two weeks. The amazon promotion inflated Gaga’s sales by 440,000 copies to 1.1 million. And then sales tapered off. The Richie album, by the way, is “hot.” So the real test will be whether “MDNA” has legs beyond the promotion.


The New Yorker published an article titled ‘The Song Machine, The hit makers behind Rihanna’.

Most of the songs played on Top Forty radio are collaborations between producers like Stargate and “top line” writers like Ester Dean who has written smash hooks for Rihanna and Nicki Minaj.

Ester Dean has a genius for infectious hooks.

Among Dean’s best hooks are her three Rihanna smashes—“Rude Boy” (“Come on, rude boy, boy, can you get it up / Come on, rude boy, boy, is you big enough?”), “S&M” (“Na-na-na-na COME ON”), and “What’s My Name” (“Oh, na-na, what’s my name?”), all with backing tracks by Stargate—and her work on two Nicki Minaj smashes, “Super Bass” (“Boom, badoom, boom / boom, badoom, boom / bass / yeah, that’s that super bass”) and David Guetta’s “Turn Me On” (“Make me come alive, come on and turn me on”).

Things slowed down when people got fed up with Stargate’s sound..

In 2004, things suddenly slowed down for Stargate in the U.K. “People got fed up with Stargate’s sound—things change fast in the music business—and there was no work,” Eriksen told me. “We were sitting back in Norway wondering, What do we do now? Should we shut it down? Our manager, Tim, said, ‘Let’s just go to New York, book a studio, and give it a shot there.’ We didn’t have much money left, but we paid for the trip. No one here knew who we were. We had a few sessions with writers, but nothing substantial. Our goal was to sell one song, and we did, we sold one, so we came back for one more week of sessions, and then we were going to call it quits.”

Today, hit songs are mainly composed by 3 people and it must contain hook after hook.

The producers compose the chord progressions, program the beats, and arrange the “synths,” or computer-made instrumental sounds; the top-liners come up with primary melodies, lyrics, and the all-important hooks, the ear-friendly musical phrases that lock you into the song. “It’s not enough to have one hook anymore,” Jay Brown, the president of Roc Nation, and Dean’s manager, told me recently. “You’ve got to have a hook in the intro, a hook in the pre-chorus, a hook in the chorus, and a hook in the bridge.” The reason, he explained, is that “people on average give a song seven seconds on the radio before they change the channel, and you got to hook them.

Read the rest of the article here



Although dance-pop hit its peak, it still has signs of life.

One Direction has made Billboard history. The British boy band topped the Billboard 200 chart with their debut album “Up All Night,” making them the first UK group to debut at No. 1 with their debut album. The album topped both Bruce Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” and Adele’s “21.”

and they debuted with 176,000 albums sold…

“Up All Night” debuted on the charts with 176,000 units sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. One Direction bested the previous record set by pop group the Spice Girls in 1997 when their debut album “Spice” entered the charts at No. 6. One Direction’s single “What Makes You Beautiful” entered the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart at No. 28, which also marked the highest debut for a UK group since the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” debuted at No. 11 in 1997.

In case you haven’t heard of the band, they were created from ‘The X Factor’

The boy band was formed on the seventh series of the British singing competition “The X Factor,” after guest judge Nicole Scherzinger made a recommendation to Simon Cowell to put the five solo hopefuls together to compete in the competition as a group act.


Downloading music, movies, e-books and Apps could soon cost Connecticut residents more as lawmakers consider a tax on digital downloads.

The bill, proposed by the General Assembly’s Finance, Review and Bonding Committee, would have consumers pay the 6.35% sales tax on any electronic transfer.

Supporters say the bill would level playing the field. Brick-and-mortar retailers are required to charge a sales tax who purchase products in their stores, why is downloading music from an internet based store exempt?

In fact, 25 states have already begun taxing digital downloads.

The Committee will hold a public hearing about the proposed bill Friday morning at 10am at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.


The Wall Street Journal mentions the music industry is showing signs of renewed strength.

After years of losing buyers, caused by many consumers who simply stopped buying music, the total number of CD buyers increased for the second consecutive year, growing 2% to 78 million [in 2011]

Paid downloads also increased:

Total music-track sales rose 4% last year, the first gain in many years. Paid download buyers increased 14% in 2011, to 45 million customers. Digital buyers also spent more at iTunes Music Store, Amazon AMZN MP3, and other digital music stores in 2011.

People are spending more time with music discovery sites like Pandora and Spotify as well as mobile devices:

It’s so obvious what has happened in the last year or two,” said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD, in an interview Tuesday. “Consumers have a lot more ways to discover new music than they have had traditionally. Services like Pandora P , Spotify and Rhapsody have made it easier to get a song you like into your head, and consumers are then going to iTunes or a physical store like Target and putting that song or album on their shopping list. With more mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, people are just spending more time with music.

I believe breakout artists such as Adele and Katy Perry have skewed the sales numbers. For the last year, Adele is selling 100,000 copies a week, which isn’t typical for the last 5 to 7 years. Regardless, the 4th quarter will paint a clearer picture.

The quality of pop music been better recently, from Adele to Lady Gaga to Katy Perry to Susan Boyle, and people are responding to that,” Crupnick explained. “And 10 years after the advent of Apple’s AAPL iTunes, far more people buy CDs than downloads.”

Ironically, people are still buying CD’s. It’s been predicted that CD’s would be obsolete by 2012.

In our rapidly changing world, it is perhaps odd to suppose that a physical medium would still resonate with people. However, Crupnick said, there are still plenty of Baby Boomers and other listeners who just enjoy the CD experience in the car, and there remains a core contingent of consumers who find CDs to be the best way to enjoy the album format, which offers an assortment of songs from a favorite artist, tied to a unifying theme.

Piracy is on the decline as well, the UK just singed a bill (ACTA) that makes illegal downloading on par with “Class A drugs, people smuggling and human trafficking, major gun crime, fraud and money laundering.”

One other thing has clearly helped the music industry claw its way back to growth – a decline in piracy. The NPD report also noted a decline in unpaid music acquisition, such as P2P file sharing and trading music on hard drives. NPD estimates that 13% of Internet users downloaded music from a P2P site in 2011, down from a peak of 19% in 2006. In addition to giving customers more legitimate sources to find music, the industry has worked hard to crack down on file sharing sites.

The music industry is still finding it’s place in rapidly changing landscape, but it’s still breathing.

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