It’s been a huge chart week for Parlophone. The Warner Music label has secured the No.1 position across the three main charts – albums, singles and airplay.
After losing out to Michael Ball & Alfie Boe by just 35 copies two years ago, Stereophonics once again debuted at the summit. Kind, which is the band’s seventh No.1, opened with sales of 29,844, according to the Official Charts Company. On the singles chart, Tones And I’s Dance Monkey is spending a fifth week at the summit (515,954 OCC sales to date). It's also No.1 on Spotify's UK chart and global chart, as well as on Apple Music and Shazam.
Parlophone has also had a strong start with Coldplay’s new single Orphans. It has debuted at No.1 on the airplay chart, as well as entering the singles chart at No.27 (16,870 sales – OCC).
Doing the triple with three different artists is a rare achievement and reason for the new Parlophone team to celebrate. And there are more acts to come in 2020, including Ashnikko, The Snuts and Hamzaa. Here, co-presidents Mark Mitchell (pictured right) and Nick Burgess (pictured left) open up about their chart triumph…
What’s the spirit like in Parlophone today after this result?
Nick Burgess: “It’s a really great moment for us as a label. Me and Mitch, we’ve been having a conversation about Parlophone for 18 months as a management team. This feels like the real fruits of our labour [coming through], it’s about the hard work of the team, changing the structure of the label around, creating a new energy and psychology of bringing belief into the label. We’re really enjoying working together and being a contemporary, culturally relevant record company. To have a day like today where we can appreciate our hard work together is amazing. This is just the beginning, we really see this as the ignition point – 2020 will be a big year for us.”
Mark Mitchell: “Internally, it’s just a brilliant boost of confidence for the team. There’s definitely a massive buzz around the place today. To have this success in our opening year is just a brilliant boost.”
Stereophonics lost out in a close chart race with their previous album in 2017. You must be pleased to see them back at No.1?
MM: “I don’t know of any other British act who have had so many No.1 albums and also are No.1 on their 11th album. It’s an incredible achievement. Yeah, after the previous album, it’s really good to have them back where they belong. It’s certainly their best record for a time as well. As a true British singer-songwriter, Kelly [Jones] doesn't always get the acclaim he deserves, but he really is a huge force, still taking chances and still writing completely from the heart. So I’m really pleased for him and the band, it's a brilliant achievement.”
It’s a strong seller in terms of physical copies. How did you secure that week one result?
MM: “There was some D2C, there was some ticket bundling in there as well for a huge tour next year. The pre-order versus the final figure was really healthy for what we call walk up for week one retail sales. A couple of tracks out beforehand were really well supported at radio. Interestingly, there were great reviews for the album across the weekend. There is maybe a perception that people know what a Stereophonics record is going to sound like and so they don’t give it the time. But on this record, people have given it that time and it’s fed back really well.”
And the band came out well ahead of some tough competition…
MM: “Yeah, we set this release date quite a while back. As much as you've always got to keep one eye on the competition, it's always best to put your effort into the strongest campaign you can create for your artist. Just getting off at such a great level is really exciting and really pleasing. To be at almost 30,000 in the first week is a really good indicator. It’s just the beginning of the campaign, there’s a huge tour in February and March of next year. As we continue on the campaign, it’s about revealing other gems from the record and keeping it going.”
NB: “It’s a testament to the band that the quality of their writing has stayed at that level. It just shows in the consistency of their performance. They don’t seem to lose their fanbase, and they maintain an ability to still attract a passive audience. Kelly remains a relevant voice for the public so many years down the line.”
Did you utter any expletives when you heard about about Kanye West’s album dropping?
MM: [Laughs] “I went back and we looked at previous Kanye records. The joy of Kanye is you never know what the actual record is going to be like. It was a digital-only record. I was quite prepared to take that one on.”
Tones And I has been a strong streaming success. Is radio now embracing the track too?
NB: “Radio has been an interesting situation on a global level. It’s taken a lot of time to bed in on the radio, because it’s such an unusual track. She’s an artist having such a potent song so early in her career. We’ve made sure to tell the story of Tones. Scott Mills really drove it through the Radio 1 system, Ashley [Tabor], Capital and the Global team have been fantastic, Kiss as well. We’ve got a really good spread, but there’s still some more work for us to do at radio. But she’s a brand new artist and for the single to be No.9 on airplay is phenomenal for us.”
What’s the outlook for Dance Monkey?
NB: “We’ve got a big competitor with Dua [Lipa] this week. We’re confident that the song we’ve got is still growing, still developing and finding a new audience. Every week we’ve seen off some huge names – Selena [Gomez], Lizzo, Ariana [Grande], Shawn Mendes. So it’s quite exciting.”
You’ve also had a great airplay result for Coldplay’s comeback single Orphans. What’s driving it at radio?
MM: “To have a No.1 airplay in the week that you come out, even for Coldplay that is a great achievement. You can’t be No.1 just with Radio 2. We’re being being supported at the highest levels on pretty much every network – Bauer, Capital, Radio 1, Radio 2 and a lot of the other regional stations. It’s been brilliant. The tactile nature of the launch really drew people in. The band and our team came up with some really quite challenging ideas in this modern day for how we would launch and come back. It’s really resonated so well with the media and public.”
In terms of return on investment, the classified advert for the album in the North Wales Daily Post must be well up there…
NB: “We were laughing. Literally, for £50 we made the biggest marketing story anyone can remember. It just goes to show that marketing is all about the idea, not the spend. You can spend a million pounds trying to make someone care about an artist. Or you can have a great idea and it just naturally happens. It’s testament to the public, when they get curious about something they talk about it. We created a huge splash with a very small piece of positioning and the one ad – it couldn’t have been any smaller. The braveness and the courage of it has made people really be confident in the artist again. From Heart to Radio 1 A-list upfront, Capital, everyone still believes in Coldplay as a huge force across every single network pretty much. It’s been something to be very proud of for us and the band.”
MM: “In the same way that it captured the public’s imagination, the DSPs also like the idea of doing something out of the norm. And to deliver such an incredibly strong track as well, that gave everyone the confidence to really support it. With streaming, it's always a long, long game. The stage we're at, we've got fantastic airplay and a lot of media talking. We’ve got a long way to grow for the length of the campaign on this track.”