Out of Four Full Music Sales Weeks In 2011, Three Have Hit Historic Lows (Congratulations, Amos Lee!)

Categories: Amos Lee, Featured

"Kneel, industry, kneel!"
We'd graph it, but sadly, it's too simple for that. Your 2011 Billboard #1s, in chronological order: Taylor Swift, Speak Now, 52K; Cake, Showroom of Compassion, 44K; the Decemberists, The King Is Dead, 93.5K; Amos Lee, Mission Bell, 40K. That last number is the lowest total since Soundscan started counting; it breaks that record for the third time in four chances this year. Your 2011 debut sales champ so far? The motherfucking Decemberists. On the upside, this marks the second straight #1 record for the beleaguered imprint EMI...or should we say Citigroup, who recently bought the label for pocket change, bailing out some clowns who paid 8.4 billion for the label in 2007. That sound you hear is of thousands of men in suits, weeping.

Except for one thoughtfully smokey-eyed musician that is--Lee topped his own 16K mark for 2008's Last Days at the Lodge by a factor of around two-and-a-half, and so is currently rubbing his stubble blissfully back and forth across Sam Beam's majestically whiskered face:

2011, everybody!

Amos Lee Nets No. 1 on Billboard 200 in Another Dreary Sales Week [Billboard]

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J.J. Hayes
J.J. Hayes

This of course is just a symptom of something deeper. It's not just about the industry, but it's about the fact that we really no longer have any single musical voice we can in some fashion agree upon. Everything, our critical writing, our assumptions about the state of the culture, our references in conversation were driven by those men in suits who are presently weeping. Of course we thought it was all about us and our musical choices, but it really was about our choices from among their choices. But such fragmentation happened a long time ago. The question is why are we even still writing about some of these artists? Is it because the labels still can push these artists into the conversation? But with these numbers how could any artist honestly be spoken of in the way rock critics have spoken about the pan-cultural significance of various artists in the past. Is 40,000 even statistically more significant than say 100 CD's sold by an unsigned band, when the population of the world is approaching 7,000,000,000?

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