If the record is ready, put the damn thing out now
WHEN IT COMES TO differences between the old music industry and the new music industry, there’s one line that says a lot. It pops up every so often and it always puts a smile on my face.
This week, it was the turn of Ferdy Unger-hamilton, the big kahoona at Polydor Records, to spin it. Speaking about his best-selling act Lana Del Rey, Unger-hamilton said she has “thee CDS’ worth of songs with loads of brilliant tracks. Enough for us to do the album and a deluxe edition and still have stuff left for later records.”
It’s a line that was previously used by U2 in the wake of negative reaction to the appalling No Line On the Horizon album. Here’s Bono in August 2010: “We have Songs of Ascent, which is the meditative work. We’ve got a rock album. We also have a club-sounding album.” Eighteen months on, we’re still waiting for any of these masterpieces to appear.
Word to the superstars: there are these things called Soundcloud and Bandcamp where you can get those albums out right now to your fans.
If the music is any good, it will go beyond your dedicated fanbase. If the music is really, really good, you’ll get hits. As simple as.
But that’s not how the record industry rolls. It’s about maintaining control, rolling out promotional campaigns and 18-month schedules. It’s a way of working that has no rhyme or reason in 2012, a time when fans want new music from their favourite acts now. If the record is ready, put the damn thing out now.
It will also mean an end to having your carefully choreographed campaign scuppered by a record going rogue and leaking six months early.
‘We have a meditative album; we have a rock album; we have a club-sounding album’