Gold tickets! Gary Numan Videos! How independent bands dominate the charts | Pop and rock
gary Numan, Mogwai, Maxïmo Park, Le Corail, Equipe Sportive, Shame. Not the lineup of a canceled two-day festival in Kidderminster, but artists who used D2C marketing to land high profile albums. This ugly acronym stands for Direct to Consumer and means pushing sales of physical discs – often in limited editions – through their official stores and those of independent retailers. Their maxim, to quote Dua Lipa via Olivia Newton-John, is: let’s be physical.
The album charts are mostly dominated by streaming data, but it does take some time to integrate. but, when they do, they’ll keep you on the charts for years to come (see: Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi). Smaller acts therefore view D2C as guerrilla action – bursting through the window of a week when physical sales matter most. It peaked in February when Mogwai rose to No.1 thanks to a social media campaign – including attending the Tim Burgess Listening Party on Twitter – to sell physical and downloadable copies of their album, As the Love Continues.
Normally D2C is a whirlwind of activity, but Gary Numan, for his recent album Intruder, turned it into a two-year artistic experience. “We had some luxury signed vinyl records and CDs – but if you pre-ordered the album, you had access to Gary’s video streams in the studio,” says Bruce McKenzie, sales manager for D2C Townsend Music, who helped make it work. .
Inevitably, major artists are now co-opting this plan: Taylor Swift advanced the CD edition of Folklore to August 2020 to stay at # 1 (keeping Fountains DC at the top).
Still, some smaller groups have gone for multi-formatting out of principle (Sleaford Mods, for example), or are actively trying to disrupt it. Art-rock mavericks Black Midi attempted to break chart rules by hiding a Golden Ticket in a physical copy of the Cavalcade album (pricing options included them being your band from feature or free guest list tickets for a decade), and released the entire album on YouTube two days before its official release. “It took so long to try and get kicked off the charts! jokes Lisa Goodall, marketing manager for Black Midi’s Rough Trade label. Ultimately, the standard black vinyl format that contained the Golden Ticket was disqualified and the album ranked at No.60.
However, keeping an eye on the charts isn’t just about ego. A high profile album directly affects an act’s offerings for tours and festivals. “You can increase the bill because you have a Top 10 album,” says Goodall.
In Aesop’s fable, the speedy hare lost to the heavy tortoise, but in today’s graphics, the fast bolt to the finish line is the best way to make a lasting impression.