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Historians point out that that this is not the first time the issue of singles killing albums has reared its head. Back in the day, many argued that commercial singles were hurting album sales, and that argument was partly responsible for the demise of the commercial single, which has been virtually extinct since the mid-’90s.

I.B. BAD: IS THE BIZ SINGING A DIFFERENT TUNE ABOUT ONLINE SINGLES SALES?

IDJ’s Embargo of iTunes on Ne-Yo’s Radio Hit Reopens the Dialogue on Singles Killing Albums
Ne-Yo's chart-topping debut—which sold a bracing 306k last week, as Reid and Bartels continue their torrid hot streak—suggests that IDJ got an uptick in album sales by holding back lead track “So Sick,” a smash at radio, from iTunes and other online services in an effort to eliminate the cannibalizing of album sales. Handicappers are pointing out that R&B/pop singer Chris Brown, the most recent comparable artist, bowed at 155k in December on the heels of a radio smash and a huge iTunes single, as Jive followed the standard practice of making the lead track available online in advance of the album release. (It should be noted, however, that the Brown album has gone on to sell more than 1 million units under the astute leadership of Barry Weiss.) These same handicappers believe IDJ's holdout was a factor in optimizing first-week sales, despite the impossibility of quantifying, or even substantiating, the theoretical uptick. The only rookie to have a bigger first week since the beginning of last year was The Game (611k)…  Further complicating any attempt to analyze the factors that contributed to Ne-Yo’s big first week was the fact that IDJ set an aggressive price point on the album as part of its marketing plan. Whatever value the iTunes pre-release boycott had on Ne-Yo’s sales, this is the first time it has been applied to a high-profile album, setting the benchmark while giving strategizers another intangible to ponder. While it’s too soon to say whether the embargo strategy will gain in popularity, there’s no question that it’s now a major topic of conversation among marketing geniuses... The Ne-Yo situation begs the question of how much additional traction a new act derives from racking up a chart-topping debut with a big number... Historians point out that that this is not the first time the issue of singles killing albums has reared its head. Back in the day, many argued that commercial singles were hurting album sales, and that argument was partly responsible for the demise of the commercial single, which has been virtually extinct since the mid-’90s. Here in the Digital Age, more and more in the music industry are once again coming to the conclusion that selling large quantities of singles—online singles, in this case—isn't always in the best interest of label or artist…  While most majors continue to constrict in response to dwindling revenues, UMG ruler Doug Morris, who saw a jaw-dropping 19% increase in profit for fiscal 2005 at $573 million, continues to be in an expansive, aggressive mode,  putting two teams on the field at Universal Motown Records Group. Industry eyes will be on the label group in the coming months to see whether the doubling of key departments under Monte Lipman and Sylvia Rhone will dramatically impact marketshare. The conventional wisdom says that, in most cases, having a second promotion team enables a company to substantially grow its marketshare. Jimmy Iovine’s IGA, with a bigger than 10% piece of the pie, and Tom Whalley’s Warner Bros., with more than 6%, are presently demonstrating the value of double dipping. On the other hand, Columbia and IDJ are both at about 6% with one promotion department each. Go figure... In a closely related matter, the business appears to be on the verge of the most widespread promotion-executive shuffle in recent history, as the dominos start falling from one end of the Big Four to the other. Rhone and Lipman are each looking for a new promo domo, Lava's Mike Easterlin is rumored to be getting Andrea Ganis' post at Atlantic and three other majors are said to be in the process of revamping their promotion departments from the top down. Of course, rumors of Ganis’ demise have been circulating for ages, and she’s still standing… It isn’t just Fox’s American Idol that is turning TV viewers  into music consumers and making a record mogul—in this case, BMG’s Clive Davis—look like even more of a genius. Disney’s High School Musical continues its  growth pattern with a 14% increase to 121k this week, to bring the project north of 500k, driven by tactical TV airings backed by Radio Disney spins, as Bob Cavallo and his team continue to exploit the phenomenon, which is already working to perfection with Aly & AJ (whose LP is at 400k-plus). Up to now, these two teen starlets have been seen separately on Disney cable, but the next phase in the marketing plan kicks off later this month when they co-star in the Disney Channel movie Cow Belles… Fear and loathing in Burbank and at Warner/Chappell HQ in Westwood, as staffers await word one way or the other on the truth—and consequences—of the much-rumored move of both operations to New York. In the meantime, the name that continues to be bandied about as the leading candidate to replace Rick Shoemaker as WCM President is that of well-liked free agent Will Botwin, who already has a place in New York… Names in the Rumor Mill: Michael Caplan, Polly Anthony, Steve Moir, Andy Lack, Tommy Mottola and John Branca.
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