Why music needs a generation gap

Malcolm McLaren’s son’s decision to set fire to five million quids’ worth of punk memorabilia was, on the face of it, a pretty stupid thing to do. After all, there are surely better things for Joe Corré to do with ...

Why playing the long game is the future for the music business

In this week’s Big Interview with Spotify’s George Ergatoudis, the former Radio 1 man makes the point that the music business is now all about long-term success, rather than its short-term cousin. Plenty in the biz would say it always has been, of course, but the facts are that, at least in the Albums Chart, the success of a project has often rested on a blockbuster first week. Looking at the Q4 figures so far, those weeks might be a thing of the past. Big names from Emeli Sandé to Elvis Presley, Robbie Williams to Michael Bublé and Green Day to Bon Jovi have come out and sold perfectly respectably, but none – with the possible exception of Little Mix’s Glory Days this week – have done the big numbers we might have expected a few years ago. Much of that may be to do with the shift from sales to streams but, either way, it makes weeks two, three, four and beyond even more important for any release that’s serious about racking up platinum-plus sales. In the same way that labels are adjusting to breaking new acts over several albums rather than one single, they may have to contemplate shifting albums over several respectable weeks rather than one spectacular one. With that in mind, keep an eye on – of all the under-hyped people – Michael Ball and Alfie Boe. Their Together album is still growing after three solid weeks and is many people’s tip for Christmas No.1. We’re already working on a phenomenal Jinglebell Ball pun should that happen but, in the meantime, everyone else might want to study their campaign for tips on why Week 1 isn’t everything. Mark Sutherland, Editormsutherland@nbmedia.com

Why the music biz needs its own Black Friday

If you didn’t know this Friday is Black Friday then congratulations, you have successfully resisted the increasing Americanisation of our society. Or you’ve been living under a rock (either way, hate to break it to you, but Donald Trump is President now). The American tradition of Black Friday – essentially a day of unabashed commercial abandon the day after Thanksgiving that sparks the Christmas shopping season – was imported here a few years back, the main result of which seemed to be some very British brawling in suburban shopping centres. So far, UK music retailers haven’t followed their US counterparts into making a big deal of the event, and who can blame them? The last thing we need is punters rucking in the aisles over the last copy of Olly Murs’ new album. But then maybe the fact that that scenario seems so ridiculous tells us something. People get over-excited about new computer games, toys or consumer electronics, why not music releases too? Yet so far Q4 has been solid, rather than spectacular, on the sales front, despite an impressive line-up of big names. Maybe it’s streaming finally having an impact on physical music’s traditionally strong Q4 sales – in the US, many streaming services are offering subscription discounts as Black Friday promotions. Or maybe it’s the lack of a new Adele album that’s prompting fewer casual shoppers to pop into their local High Street record shop. Either way, an event to get shoppers buying music in the run-up to Christmas doesn’t seem like such a terrible idea. Just so long as it’s not called Black Friday and it doesn’t involve a punch-up over Olly Murs, I’m in. Mark Sutherland, Editormsutherland@nbmedia.com

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