Tuesday, April 10, 2007

140K is the new gold

Last week, Young Buck's Buck The World album debuted with around 140,000 copies sold and much fanfare about how these sales reflected the end of G-Unit as a viable commercial force. This week, superproducer Timbaland opened up with pretty much identical numbers to Buck's, at around 140,000. I think it is safe to say that the Young Buck naysayers have been silenced. If he can sell the same amount in his first week as one of the hottest properties in music right now, not just rap, it's a fair assumption to say he won't be rapping (or stabbing people with forks) for his dinner anytime soon. It's also a sad indictment that rap fans have pretty much given up on going to the store, as I would presume many of Tim's sales came from fans of Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, and Fall Out Boy, all guests on the album. While I wouldn't deem it out of the question for Shock Value to pick up steam over time and outsell Buck in the long run, it has to be considered a mild upset that such a star studded album couldn't make it over 150K in the first week of sales. In an era where Mims can't ride the #1 single in the country to much more than 75K 1st week sales and Rich Boy can't parlay his smash hit into much more than 110K to start and what looks like a finish in the 300K region, it begs the question of how much longer labels will continue to put money into the promotion of rap albums. Some signs suggest that people are tired of being pandered to and that they will pony up their hard earned dollars for an album that truly derserves it. Young Jeezy has sold almost 3 million copies of his first 2 albums during this dark period, and without ever making that crossover grab song, only relenting by allowing Akon & R. Kelly to sing hooks about selling drugs rather than crafting them himself. Ludacris and Jay-Z have maintained their streak of platinum hits and T.I. still has the highest selling non Black Eyed Peas rap album over the past year and a half. It's time for labels to stop trying to trick rap fans out of their money and start building an artist's fanbase off more than ringtones and MySpace pages. I don't buy all of the bootlegging allegations, because artists like Nickelback and Justin Timberlake are still doing monster numbers and their albums are just as easily downloaded as anyone else's. The Shady/Aftermath camp is another prime example of rappers who have built the fan's trust enough so that they can still maintain their sales. The Re-Up compilation of mostly Shady second stringers dressed up with a few verses from 50 & Shady himself is nearly platinum off one poorly promoted single. Here's hoping that the label execs stop creating paint-by-numbers affairs and start allowing their artists' real personalites to shine through. The major label machine could take a big cue from Jim Jones, who has managed to move almost 400,000 units independently, using his catchy single to bring people into his world. Casualties like Mims, Rich Boy, and Timbaland could stand to learn a lesson from Jones' relentless self promotion and creative marketing schemes. Until then, people will continue to refuse to part with their money and opt for downloading.

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