Monday, September 6, 2010
Is the Hit Parade Over?
"The reliance on album sales is very 20th century."
--Cliff Chenfeld, owner of indie label Razor & Tie
I remember when I was in fifth grade my friend and I used to quiz one another on the top 10 hits of the week. We'd list them on a blackboard down in her basement. Guessing the label the single was on was part of our game.
Of course, this is back in the day when I probably also carried around my 45s in a neat plastic canister or carrying case. Ah, such innocence!
I'm sorry in a way that my children will not have the same pleasure. As an article in The New York Times made resoundingly clear, there are many revenue streams to consider before you can honestly declare a single a hit. It's all very complicated. I imagine Billboard Magazine has expanded their lists to accomodate every scenario.
It's funny, though, that vestiges of the 20th century metric still remain. According to the Times article, album sales are still an industry shorthand for success. Makes me think about what I read about the movie business in the paper this morning. It's another industry that is too heavily wedded to the old metric. Films like Kick-Ass are declared flops based upon their opening weekend box-office take, when in reality if you look over the long-term they return handsomely on their investment.
Also, in today's Times is an article about a song introduced on YouTube that's racking up sales as a single.
It's a fascinating time for the music business. I marvel at how quickly someone can now have a "hit". I wonder openly how much longer anyone can have something even remotely able to be called a career.