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CORSON HEADED WEST (REPORTS)
Animal follies: From Nipper to the Bunny. (9/26a)
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IS ROCK WASHED UP?
8/28/17

By Bud Scoppa

Arcade Fire manager Scott Rodger makes some provocative points about the disadvantages rock bands face nowadays in the Pitchfork think piece “Why Indie Bands Go Major Label in the Streaming Era.” In the piece, Marc Hogan asks, can the Big Three help bands like Grizzly Bear (Warp to RCA), The War on Drugs (Secretly Canadian to Atlantic), LCD Soundsystem (DFA to Columbia) and Arcade Fire (Merge to to Capitol to Columbia) better navigate the shift to streaming?

Rodger reveals that although Everything Now was his clients’ third straight #1 album, it sold 60k fewer iTunes downloads than 2013’s Reflektor. Applying the 1,500-streams-to-one-sale measurement, it would have taken 90m streams to make up that difference on the charts. “We’re probably still getting the same amount of people in real terms listening to the music,” Rodger speculates, “but it’s not volume enough to make a dent on streaming.”

According to the manager, “Our whole ambition on this campaign was just, how do we engage our audience and try to be a talking point for people who have never heard of our band? How do we become that talking point over dinner, over coffee, over breakfast? That really was our ambition. We’re not gonna be on daytime TV… They want to play with the Beyoncés, the Taylor Swifts. They will never be as big as some of those acts, but they want to play in the same field.”

In the same piece, SONGS CEO Matt Pincus points out that “The only guys that are going to get you on Pop radio are the majors, or people with a bona fide promotion system. Alternative radio doesn’t move volume anymore.”

The KillersBrandon Flowers and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. expressed a more troubling view in an interview posted on Noisey and picked up by Pitchfork. When asked if they thought a band like theirs could gain similar traction in the present day, Flowers replied, It could happen—but there hasn't been anybody good enough. If there was a band like The Strokes or Interpol, people would talk… But there isn't.

Vannucci reinforced his bandmate’s point, stating, “People are very quick to blame a changing of the times for a lot of things, when it's really that they're just not good enough yet.”

“A lot of us in that scene were fully realized on our first record,” Flowers continued. “In the ’80s and ’90s, people had time to grow, and that is definitely not going to be allowed anymore. Look at us, The Strokes, White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand—even Razorlight, Kaiser Chiefs, all that stuff. Kings of Leon. The songs were strong on those first albums. Usually it takes people three or four records to get there.”

It bears mentioning that all the bands referenced in the Pitchfork piece have released four or more albums.