Dog days for album sales, but one band in­tend to re­write the script

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion -

Wel­come to Q3, which be­gan last Tues­day and marks the time when noth­ing re­ally hap­pens in the mu­sic in­dus­try. It may be fes­ti­val-a-go-go ev­ery week­end but, in Q3, record com­pany re­lease sched­ules are one- para­graph af­fairs. It’s a time when mu­sic re­view­ers have to dou­ble-up as burger flip­pers (al­though even that would be be­yond most of them). If an album

re­leased dur­ing th­ese dog days, it gen­er­ally shows an un­der­whelm­ing lack of con­fi­dence in the prod­uct.

De­spite all the dig­i­tal/on-line changes of re­cent years, the mu­sic in­dus­try re­mains a deeply con­ser­va­tive body which still lines up its re­leases in tan­dem with old- fash­ioned pur­chas­ing pat­terns. Q1, or Quar­ter One, of the mu­sic in­dus­try cal­en­dar (Jan/Feb/March) is gen­er­ally a time when peo­ple are still broke af­ter Christ­mas and a lot of bands take their an­nual hol­i­days. Things perk up dur­ing Q2 (April/May/ June), when bands have to get their records out so peo­ple can be­come familiar with the songs in time for the fes­ti­val sea­son.

Q3 has al­ways suf­fered from the fact that most stu­dents (still a core de­mo­graphic) are away and that what­ever money peo­ple have to spend on mu­sic goes to­wards con­cert tick­ets. In Q4 (Oc­to­ber/ Novem­ber/De­cem­ber) the cashtills start to ring again. More mu­sic is sold in Q4 than the other three com­bined, and more mu­sic is sold in De­cem­ber than the other eleven months com­bined.

You might think that the block­buster bands would be in­su­lated from the va­garies of such spend­ing pat­terns, but even the big­gest don’t dare re­lease dur­ing Q3. The two big­gest-sell­ing al­bums of this year will be by Coldplay and U2. The for­mer dashed to get theirs out in Q2 and the lat­ter will most likely re­lease at the end of Oc­to­ber, thus giv­ing them­selves a few weeks to do the busi­ness be­fore the Christ­mas com­pi­la­tions/ great­est hits pack­age dom­i­nate the in-store racks.

For record shops, Q3 is a chal­leng­ing time. You might have no­ticed the many in-store live per­for­mances, and a lot of time and en­ergy goes into ex­plor­ing other “re­tail op­por­tu­ni­ties”.

The only real recorded mu­sic ac­tiv­ity over the next few months will come from la­bels us­ing the Q3 gap in the sched­ule to try and break in new bands – or to reignite the ca­reer of has-beens whose album would get lost when re­leased in any other quar­ter. New­com­ers have a bet­ter chance of get­ting press ex­po­sure; now that the big-hit­ters hav­ing done their shill, blank pages open up.

But one Dublin band is at­tempt­ing to fight against the Q3 curse. The Script have the un­en­vi­able task of re­leas­ing their ma­jor-la­bel de­but in the first week of Au­gust (the low­est-sell­ing week in the en­tire mu­sic year).

The Script, made up of Danny O’Donoghue (vo­cals), Mark Shee­han (gui­tars) and Glen Power (drums), have an in­ter­est­ing pedi­gree. Both O’Donoghue and Shee­han used to be fairly well­known record pro­duc­ers on the Los An­ge­les mu­sic scene, and be­tween them have twid­dled the knobs for The Nep­tunes, Teddy Reilly and Rod­ney Jerkins.

They’re now based in Lon­don, and the band’s de­but sin­gle, We Cry, was Sin­gle of the Week on BBC Ra­dio 2. They’ve also got DJs Jo Whi­ley and Chris Evans scream­ing their praises. With ra­dio play be­ing so cru­cial for a new band, that’s as good a start as they can hope for. The Script dis­play a ridicu­lously ma­ture grasp of mu­sic on We Cry, and the pro­duc­tion is top class.

Will The Script be the first band to break out of Q3? Most prob­a­bly yes. www.the­script­mu­sic.com

A good start: The Script

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