These days, when you go over the charts, you really wonder:
- Has the CD buying public gone really mad or
- are these figures bribed?
Well, look at http://www.ultratop.be. No comment. Certain B-artists supposingly selling more than other artists who treat us to sold out concerts 12 days after each other. Hmmm this stinks, or not?
For some time now, it has become so hard for the record industry to make profit. We have kazaa, napster a.o. to thank for that. To make profit you must simply sell products. To sell products, you need to show the world you actually exist. You need radio and TV stations to play your stuff and show your artist on screen so the crowd gets the chance to either love or hate your product. Now the past has learnt that an average song can still sell if it gets pumped into your brains a sufficient amount of times... So we have a margin here. However, this margin got very small or even disappeared due to the illegal copying which resulted in record companies taking no more risks. They either believe in it or not. Cases in which doubt arises are sent back home with the standard "nice but doesn't fit in our catalog" sentence.
Almost all of these TV and Radio stations have a TOP50 or similar based on either personnal taste of one or more guys, or 'official' sales results etc. The word official needs to be really weighed here.
It is in our genes to survive in what we do. We all know that success cannot be achieved on your own. You always need friends and you'll always have enemies. Having friends in the music business is of course a matter of being in it long enough and having done something that got noticed.
But getting in the charts with a pretty chitty product means you have to find a way to influence the sales results. Hmmm... Impossible. Or not?
A few shops use a scanning system which uses the barcodes and other stuff on records and CDs to register an item was sold. Each week, the results are bundled and used to form the 'official' charts. However, one chain of shops is really dominant due to its many points of presence throughout the country. Now if you could include them in the game....
You could gather together enough 'friends' to go out and buy all the CDs of a certain new artist, that would influence the charts. Or even better. You deliver the records to a chain of shops, but you buy them back immediately, all of them, let's say 1000 pieces. This would boost your chart position from nowhere to somewhere around the top 10!
Hmm sounds deviously clever, but what are you going to do with all these CDs you baught? Well, since they were all sold so suddenly, the record shop needs to re-order won't they. And fortunately for the record company, they just refilled their stock with some 1000 pieces...
Operation succeeded. The artist has a chart position. He/She will get noticed and get airplay. Airplay means selling.
Unfortunately, this tactic gives absolutely no chance to artists who don't know this game, don't have the money for it or can't find a record company who wants to invest in them in that way...
So are record companies the new evil? The new anti-Christ?
No they are merely trying to survive exceptionally hard times for them, hard times that have been created by us who copy and download illegally. But then again, withoug this, people will always try to find ways to beat the systems in their own advantage. We do it on our tax declarations, we do it in school etc etc.
This situation exists for decades, even before internet copying came lurking around. But things got only worse. And record companies have to invest hard in new artists. So they are very selective because in the past they have lost a lot of money. It comes back to the law of the stone-ages, the strong will survive.