JIM CARROLL ON THE RECORD
Record companies want to find the formula for Adele’s success. They’re wasting their time
A few months ago when Enya announced her comeback plans, there was a feeling that this could be a good story to follow. Blockbuster singer who has been out of the frame for a few years, new single and album, decent story, big cape, dry ice, picturesque SoCoDu castle: the kind of things which command attention. Certainly, it’s a narrative with more going for it than The bloody Corrs.
And then, Adele decides to have a moment in the spotlight. Poor Enya. Poor aul’ Jim Corr.
At this stage of the game, I think every possible angle has been covered about the return of Adele. We’ve had pieces about the gazillions of albums she’s sold, her decision to blank the various streaming services, the attraction of a decent down-to-earth woman with no airs and graces, and any other angle you care to mention.
I was going to make a jape here about the effect of Adele’s album sales on dark chocolate until I found an article attributing her weight loss to that same thing. Truly, there’s nothing left to cover with this one.
Most of all, it’s a reminder that it is still possible for music to create a really gobsmacking moment. At a time when the same aul’ boring acts are filling boring festival bills in fields and musicians seem to spend their time whining about not getting paid enough, Adele’s extraordinary success story is a timely reminder that there’s still room for connections to be made.
That’s what those people who purchased the CD or paid for the download were doing – and that has nothing to do with the politics of windowing new releases or the economics of streaming, the stuff which dominates so much music business discourse. Sometimes, it comes down to the very simple fact that millions of people like the sound of a song or a singer and want more.
This very simple fact is something which drives the record industry around the twist. Industry is a process which requires repetition, volume and scale, but every single effort to replicate the Adele effect using singers of a similar ilk (female, big songs, bigger voice) has failed to hit the target in the same way.
She’s a one-off, a talented outlier. You just can’t make any more Adeles no matter what you do or try. The formula does not work because there is no formula.
Perhaps that’s the biggest lesson out of all of this. As in every industry, when it comes to research and development, the music business relies on an old-fashioned notion that what worked in the past will work again. There’s a lot of talk about gut instinct, but that usually involves your gut telling you that the world needs more singers like Adele or Amy Winehouse or whoever.
It’s far harder to find and nurture and develop and believe in that someone who’s a complete one-off. The next Adele?
Trust me, the next Adele will sound nothing like Adele.
Industry is a process which requires repetition, volume and scale, but every single effort to replicate the Adele effect using singers of a similar ilk (female, big songs, bigger voice) has failed to hit the target