JIM CAR­ROLL ON THE RECORD

Record com­pa­nies want to find the for­mula for Adele’s suc­cess. They’re wast­ing their time

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC -

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

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