‘On Air On Sale’ is in my opinion a step in the wrong direction for both Labels & artists. Not only does it take away from the impact a good ‘First Week’ campaign has, it 10000032% will not stop illegal downloading; especially if it’s a big artist.
Let’s take GaGa into account. ‘Born This Way’ was released in the UK the day it aired on Radio. Subsequently this never topped the charts whereas previous singles have. I think we can all agree if given the ’8-12 week’ promo run, this would’ve certainly been a number 1 (we all know how much labels crave a chart position). It’s not all bad for Gaga though, as an international artist, she has sold well over a million plus copies of this song worldwide so I’m sure Iovine is not waking up in cold sweats over it not being a number 1 in the UK.
This week Chipmunk released the 3rd single from his new album ‘Transition’; ‘In The Air’ Feat. Keri Hilson a few days after it hit radio. I’ve just checked the mid-weeks & it’s entered at #94. A far cry from the debut of ‘Champion’ on the charts a few weeks ago. The hope now is for the single to grow with continuous radio & TV play / support. Not a problem if there was a guarantee from Radio & TV to play the track for a substantial ‘growth period’. But in life we all know, there are no guarantees.
The main point I’m trying to make is that each artist is different. Gaga being the international superstar that she is will have no problems selling in today’s climate. Chipmunk being the national star that he is will get the play / support he needs to ‘grow’ as he has delivered before & media outlets are confident he has an active fan base. But where does this leave the new artist with no track record? Or even the independent artist? What if you don’t have the marketing budget required to grow the awareness needed to sell substantial amounts of singles to gain a healthy chart position?
Remember Skepta was ‘new’ to the mainstream once upon a time. Radio never really picked up on ‘Bad Boy’ (his 1st single from his album ‘Doin It Again’) until it charted in the top 40. This was after a successful 8-12 week promo campaign. If that campaign never existed would ‘Bad Boy’ have climbed the charts to peak in the top 40? As an independent artist @ the time it’s highly doubtful.
Another problem I have with this new system is that labels insist it will stop piracy. Really!? All I need to do right now is type into a search engine the name of the song & artist that’s just been released to iTunes & just like magic, an illegal download link shall appear, couldn’t be any easier. What they need to understand is that once it’s on iTunes, it’s on the web. But I’m sure they’ve employed a team of people to take these down. Once again it’s a case of labels being reactive rather than proactive.
So just to recap; Big artist on a big label with a good marketing budget should have no problem adjusting to this new system. New artists on a label with a lot to prove may have some trouble adjusting & independent artists have no chance.
Doesn’t sound fair does it? But what is fair? All I know is it’s a new day & age for the UK music industry which we all need to adjust to, I just personally think this wasn’t the route we needed to go down. Maybe switch the criteria up & have the UK chart reflect the ‘Spins’ as they do in America rather than the sales. But whatever …just my thoughts.