For mu­si­cal acts, Glas­ton­bury slot a sure-fire al­bum mover

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

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

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