For musical acts, Glastonbury slot a sure-fire album mover
AMAN IN A suit and bowler hat is talking to a banana. A topless woman does sit-ups while singing “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard”. You don’t need to check the SatNav to know where you are. You could say this is the music world’s equivalent of the World Cup, except there are less drugs at Glastonbury.
Glastonbury can still be ribald and radical, depending which turn you take at any given on-site crossroads. Still, there’s no disputing how TV-friendly the once mind-numbingly dull and worthy prog-rock/hippy festival has become.
Just as TV’s M*A*S*H lasted far longer than the actual Korean war, the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage lasted twice as long as the event itself (72 hours against 144 hours over all BBC platforms). The broadcaster defends its coverage by arguing that the festival is “one of the world’s most significant cultural events”. Yes, well, there’s also the fact that while it costs the BBC £1.7 million (¤1.9 million) to cover the festival, it makes all that back and more from selling the rights to overseas broadcasters.
With the London Olympics on in 2012, there will be no Glastonbury next year because they’re aren’t enough Porta-Pottys to go around (this really is the reason). That’s bad news for the music industry, as the week after Glastonbury sees the biggest spend on music outside of Christmas week. A good Glastonbury turn can give a band an exponential increase in sales, which is why the names are getting bigger and the old musical strictures have been loosened up. Last Monday (the day after the festival ended) the three main headliners all saw huge spikes in sales. U2 albums were up 747 per cent, Coldplay by 1,290 per cent, and Beyoncé by 713 per cent.
Beyoncé is best placed to take immediate advantage as (what a coincidence!) her new album, 4, went on general release the day after her concert slot. For U2 and Coldplay, the festival sales bump was spread over their entire back catalogue – in U2’s case, 12 studio albums, seven live albums and five compilation albums. Parachutes, Coldplay’s debut is back up to No 12 on the iTunes chart, with X&Y recharting at No 14 and A Rush of Blood to the Head at No 16. And their new album, which is due at the end of September, has been nicely teed up for them.
But it was away from the headliners that the really huge increases were seen. Mumford & Sons saw a 1,400 per cent spike in sales of Sigh No More, their only album. Mumford were very nearly one of the headliners, on stand-by in case U2 didn’t make it, but surely their down-the-bill festival days are over for now.
Winning this year’s Glastonbury knock-on sales effect (and deservedly so) were Elbow, who saw sales of their Build a Rocket Boys! increase 1,715 per cent (albeit from a smaller base). It’s poetic justice in a sense in that Elbow gave (for many) the best performance of the weekend.
When acts were gushing afterwards that Glastonbury was “the highlight of our career”, what they meant was that it was the highlight of their recent album sales career.
Meanwhile (he said, still scraping the mud off his boots and clothes), does anyone know the name of a non-judgemental dry cleaners?
Elbow room: Guy Garvey & co enjoyed big sales