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