Monday, June 13, 2011

Nicola, On-Air/On-Sale, and the future of music. And also a VERY GOOD NEW SONG.

This is my "buy my single" face.
Ok so Nicola’s single has debuted at a lowly number 27 but there is NO REASON TO PANIC.
You see, Nicola (read: Nicola’s handlers) has a plan.  A plan that probably didn’t include a barely-top-thirty debut, but a plan nonetheless.  It’s a plan that hops on the relatively untested on-air/on-sale model of selling a record, which has come into existence to battle the marauding troupes of music-plundering pirates roaming the interweb seas, and is accordingly either insane or brilliant or both at the same time. 
Traditionally, a song would go to radio a few weeks before its release, then a video would come out just as the single hit stores, and all of the pent up consumer demand would lead to a healthy peak position and all the GLORIOUS HEADLINES AND SHOWERINGS OF PRAISE that came with it.  But then the evil pirates came, with their Limewires and their torrents, and EVERYTHING CHANGED.  The throngs of music listeners became increasingly agitated that they could not own songs that they so very much loved until the “official release date,” so they began seeking out illegal copies.  And also a lot of people just wanted their music for free, but we’re fixing that (read: not fixing it at all) by arresting children and housewives and stuff.  As for the impatient masses, though, record companies came up with the on-air/on-sale model, where a track is available for purchase the very instant it debuts on the radio.    
Some notable artists have used the on-air/on-sale model already, but the majority of those are acts who had some sort of clout with the record buying public already -  Gaga, Katy Perry, people who can shift records based on their name alone.  So what to do with an artist like poor ginger Nic?  No one is going to buy the debut solo track of a girl who was in a band without hearing it first – especially after the whole Nadine debacle (sad face) – so it would be unreasonable to expect an impressive chart placing after only a few days at radio. 
But on the flip side, postponing the release could lead to some of those who want the track downloading it illegally, costing the label the revenue from those sales.  So the record company had a choice – either sacrifice a decent chart debut and risk the headlines proclaiming Nicola’s solo career a flop before it had even begun, or make a few hundred extra pounds off of some £0.79 downloads. 
And we all know which one they chose.
BUT FEAR NOT, SCOPISUBJECTS – for the “men upstairs” have thought this all through.  For you see, Nicola's number-twenty-seven-charting 'Beat Of My Drum' is more of a “buzz single” than a "proper single, and is only intended to drum up interest for the NEXT single, which will have the brand recognition created by this one behind it.  And THAT ONE (not THIS ONE) is the single that will properly launch the album, and be the one that everyone should care about. 
So in essence, according to the record company, who is always honest and forthcoming and infallible in every way, “everything is fine and this isn’t a disaster because we all knew it wouldn’t be a hit anyway because it was never intended to be, unless when it’s actually released it BECOMES a hit, in which case that’s what we always intended and we’re very glad it turned out just as we had planned.”
Just so we’re clear on that.  But the one thing we're not clear on still is whether the new on-air/on-sale model is a wise move for artists like Nicola, or should be confined to established acts who can sell records even without heavy airplay and weeks of promotion.  Is it really worth sacrificing a top ten chart position for a few extra pennies?  Or would a chart-storming debut create better buzz for the album and future singles than does a couple low-selling weeks of extra availability?  We tend to think the latter, but we're sure whoever does the books at Music Accounting Towers would disagree.
However this whole thing turns out, though, we’d just like to point out that this album is shaping up to be a genuine masterpiece of pop, in a way that is deeply, deeply exciting. In fact, we'll go so far as to say tat all signs are pointing to it being the genre-defining record of the year that Gaga thought she was making but wasn’t.  And no number 27 chart debut can take that away.

And here is the proof.