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Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

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Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Frisonic » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:37 pm

Saw this article on the BBC website about the success of Adele's 2011 offering 21. Its a phenomenal achievement by any standards. I am absolutely delighted for her and immensely heartened that someone can still sell that many records in one year. But to have done it at this moment in the history of recorded music seems remarkable.

So what's going on here? Is it simply that its a truly great album that has captured the imagination of a generation as no other has? Is it a sign that audiences are becoming fatigued by overly manufactured productions and hanker after more plausible music, performed using 'real' instruments? Is it a consequence of her management's bold refusal to allow her music to be distributed by the likes of Spotify or Pandora etc. (so you have to actually buy it like we did back in the day)? Its not as if it's a one off. Her first album 19 was also enormously successful.

I've stated my view in previous posts on the general health of the music business that at least some of the blame for the decline in record sales should be attributed to the quality of content. But I certainly don't think its all because so much music over the last decade has lacked luster. After all there is nothing very new about that! And there is no doubt that piracy has played an enormous role in declining record sales too. But in this commercial landscape she has now sold over 17 million records inside 12 months. So what do people think Adele's success tells us?
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Jonnypopisical » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:02 pm

In part I think she appeals to the over 30's who a) have the money to buy albums and b) still prefer to listen to music on a Hi-Fi / CD player. I think she is great but 'kidz' are still (on the whole) not going to buy it.

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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Tartaruga » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:07 pm

Sorry,but it looks more like ‘Music Industry Move’…Specially when you compare it to records like Pink Floyd’s and MJ...
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Scramble » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:28 pm

It tells us that a lot of women (and maybe some gay men) still like "heartbreakers". Especially when backed up by a personal heartbreak story (even if that story has been entirely invented, or at least greatly exaggerated, by the singer and her publicty team).
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby narcoman » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:29 pm

Frisonic wrote:But in this commercial landscape she has now sold over 17 million records inside 12 months. So what do people think Adele's success tells us?

30% hype!! I know it's 12 million. )

She broke the USA. That's where figures like that come from. I don't' think she's leading the way for anything. It's a success story that you get from time to time. The only remarkable thing is it's a UK talent breaking the USA.... something that doesn't happen a lot.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby ken long » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:41 pm

narcoman wrote:

She broke the USA.

I was gonna write exactly that.

Oh, and if you want to know how much Americans love her, just read that article Camille Paglia wrote about her:

"With her womanly dignity and her primal imagery of ocean, rain and fire, Adele has set a new standard."

Um...

yeah. OK Camille.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Phil O » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:58 pm

IIRC there's some 'name' co-writers behind the album some of them American (e.g Ryan Tedder). That has probably helped get the US industry peeps on board.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Frisonic » Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:33 pm

Thanks for the insights. Especially the inside track on the hype narcoman (30% almost seems modest)! But even at 12 million its still a huge number. Yes, she broke into the USA market. But the thing is she DID break into the USA market. Seemingly to rather greater effect than most/all of their home grown talent. If that's all down to connecting with hi fi owning women over 30 who get dewy eyed about oceans, moons and stars, plus a few guys who like to get in touch with their girl sides... that's one hell of a niche!

The idea that her own demographic (say under 25s) often wouldn't have the hardware to play a CD anymore is interesting. I can easily believe many wouldn't have decent speakers at least. I don't know what the breakdown between physical and downloaded album sales is for 21 but I seem to remember seeing that it was something around 60% of it got shifted on iTunes (from memory of a Rolling Stone article someone linked to in another thread last year about how much % iTunes takes). Which would suggest the possibility that a large number of people are listening to her records on MP3 players and headphones.

Anyway, I'm not going to think of it as a trend quite yet but it does fit in with reports that record, especially album sales were slightly up in the USA last year (for the first time since 2006). Rock albums especially. And New York has become a major consumer of country music! Of course, writing this I realise there don't seem to be any reliable numbers for pirated downloads over that period, especially with a genre breakdown. So no idea how that side of consumption is trending by contrast.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby narcoman » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:01 pm

Frisonic wrote:Yes, she broke into the USA market. But the thing is she DID break into the USA market. Seemingly to rather greater effect than most/all of their home grown talent.


That's the uk hype machine for you. Whilst 12 million sales is brilliant, it's brilliant for a uk artist ( and doing a bit of research even that figure may be high) About half of that is USA sales and as good as it is, even in today's climate, 6million ( again ive just been told by here publisher its nearer 3 nillion SALES) sellers a not a rare occurrence in the USA although 21 was 2011 biggest record. A brilliant uk success story, and a great success story in its own right. But not an unique story by a long way..... Lady gaga or Maroon5 for example !

There is also the question of the press hyperbole. The scum, for example, have shouted " best selling album of the decade". Well seeing as the Beatles "1" album has done over 30 million and lady gaga did 24 million it sort of puts a few things back into perspective! In no ways belittling figure though..... Adele and her crew have done something brilliant.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby ken long » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:07 pm

Frisonic wrote:
Anyway, I'm not going to think of it as a trend quite yet

But it has been a trend!

Not to belittle her achievement in any way, but she picked up exactly where Amy Winehouse and Duffy left off!

I wouldn't be surpirsed if the most of the people who bought adele's album hadn't bought back to black also.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Gary_W » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:22 pm

It's good to see any artist selling this kind of volume of records - I quite take the point that the figures will have had a bit of a fiddle factor applied but there is little doubt that they're still impressive

If there is a secret, I think that it's crossed several boundaries without most of the groups concerned realising..... It's something that will appeal to the 'Buble' crowd but also the folks who would normally be at the Lady Gaga end will still go with it.... Many of the Buble end of the market are still happy enough buying the odd cd in tesco as opposed to bit torrent hence a fan in that market is probably worth 10 teenagers, all of whom will be tech-savvy enough to rip it off. Not saying they all will and I also realise some of the Buble crowd surf with the best of 'em but as a trend I recon it's significant. She's difficult to stuff into a genre and hence it has marketing appeal to a wider group. IMO anyway

Doing 'someone like you' at the Brits and on Jules and sounding like she meant every word got her a lot of kudos.... Personally, I despised the song 'chasing pavements' and hadn't given her a second look till I saw her do that in Jules Holland and thinking 'that woman can sing......'. I'm probably not alone.

Just for the record with the chap above who reckoned it was just ladies and gay men. I have friends and relations in both of those categories..... Some have the record, some dont..... I do have the cd and I'm afraid I'm a boring old straight bloke. I'm not the biggest Adele fan going but just thought I'd buck your trend for you
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Frisonic » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:30 pm

Has Lady Gaga sold a lot more records? I wouldn't know but I just had a look at her wikipedia page and it estimates 24 million album sales worldwide, for the both albums combined. I don't know how many Adele sold of the first album but it was certainly a lot less as it was prior to her success in the USA. I got the 17 milllion worldwide sales of 21 from her wikipedia page also, so if we accept hype inflation at a nominal 30% Lady Gaga has probably sold about 17 million in total (also a huge achievement). Doesn't sound like there's much between the two of them to me.

Anyway, so, no trend. But two young female artists, both selling tanker loads of albums and yet two very different musical styles. I'd love to see more artists selling in the six and seven figures again. Two swallows doesn't make a summer!
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby sirmatt » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:49 pm

hang on... isn't 'bucking the trend' the same thing as 'leading the way'?

and on the subject of adele - she's clearly a great singer, but there are loads of 'great singers' out there, encompassing many different styles. I find it a shame that her particular brand of 'soulful' moaning-about-old-boyfriends is so celebrated. Its boring.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Frisonic » Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:29 pm

sirmatt wrote:hang on... isn't 'bucking the trend' the same thing as 'leading the way'?

Well I guess it depends upon how successfully you do it! I think what I meant was the production values on Adele's records seem to be less processed than most of what gets released lately. So I was wondering how much this in itself might have contributed to her success. I am interested if younger audiences are becoming fatigued by over processed production or just prefer to listen to something easier on the ear at a different time of day. But apparently Adele's audience are mostly more mature than Lady Gaga's, according to an earlier reply. So if that's right its kind of a redundant question now. As for the work I don't listen to it for choice and I don't buy it. Nor do I listen to or buy Lady Gaga's work. But then neither are supposed to be aimed at me, so why would I? I make no judgements about how good either way but they are both clearly doing something very right.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Scramble » Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:42 pm

>Just for the record with the chap above who reckoned it was just ladies and gay men. I have friends and relations in both of those categories..... Some have the record, some dont.....

Back of the Elementary Logic class for you, Gary. Suppose Toothy McGrin's latest record Flash Us Your Gnashers is bought only by dentists. In fact, 20% of all dentists have Flash Us Your Gnashers. But then you say "But I know lots of dentists and many of them don't have this album'. Good reasoning, or a fallacy? (Hint: it's not the former. Another hint: 'All As are Bs' is not logically equivalent to 'All Bs are As'.).
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby narcoman » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:50 am

There is no mandatory "30% hype". Adele has sold 12million ( a fab achievement). Gaga has sold more. Much more. She also has serious figure of singles sales. What Adele has managed to do is get a broad market slice rather than a huge take up in a narrow slice, as Gaga has done.

Wiki is of no use in finding sales figures as they're invariably edited by thrill seeking fans!!

So, Adeles success.... Brilliant. Can't be quantified, can't be planned for. Can't really even be analysed.... It is what it is, she's done well (as a group , not an individual). Music is a fickle thing!
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby narcoman » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:01 am

Frisonic wrote:

Well I guess it depends upon how successfully you do it! I think what I meant was the production values on Adele's records seem to be less processed than most of what gets released lately.
It's not any less or more processed. It's, perhaps, less auto tuned. But that wouldn't be part of the style. IT HAS been auto tuned, but not as a fashion effect. It absolutely is NOT an organic or REAL record..... But it may have a sound that is more palatable to none teen tastes....doubt it though, there are lots of records with this sort of sound released every year..... Just that Adele is part of the mainstream pop world.


Frisonic wrote:

So I was wondering how much this in itself might have contributed to
Absolutely no direct contribution whatsoever. As with all successful records, it's down to current tastes, novel marketing and the will of the gods. the way the music industry works is all about industry uptake. when you have the combo of marketable assets visible on 21 with the positive direction the wind is blowing then you have a hit. You can't plan for it, once that horse starts running its about having all your ns pointing in the same direction. It's a fab success, but I promise you.... Much more of a luck gambit in marketing than anything. You don't get those sort of sales by making a good record otherwise every good record would achieve it.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Shambolic Charm » Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:07 am

Once someone gets up there in the big sales they seem to get shot at. SO now her sales are hyped, she is autotuned, lucky; It's down to her management etc. etc.
I think a lot of it is down to her exceptional vocal performances on prime time TV. I know lots of people went out and bought her album after the Brits performance, a lot of teenagers included. Many of my friends have also gotten into Adele's music through hearing their children playing it. She is not as pigeon holed as some may believe.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Scramble » Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:21 am

Shambolic Charm wrote:Once someone gets up there in the big sales they seem to get shot at. SO now her sales are hyped, she is autotuned, lucky; It's down to her management etc. etc.
I think a lot of it is down to her exceptional vocal performances on prime time TV. I know lots of people went out and bought her album after the Brits performance, a lot of teenagers included. Many of my friends have also gotten into Adele's music through hearing their children playing it. She is not as pigeon holed as some may believe.

Yes, those performances made a big impact. But are you really saying that she isn't autotuned? That her management didn't play a role? (No-one here actually said it's down to her management). That the sales figures quoted are accurate?
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby OneWorld » Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:38 am

Phil O wrote:IIRC there's some 'name' co-writers behind the album some of them American (e.g Ryan Tedder). That has probably helped get the US industry peeps on board.


I thought Adele wrote all her own stuff, a completely solo effort? That's shattered my illiusions - You'll be telling me there's no Father Christmas next.

I think it does go to show though - a good song sells, it stands head and shoulders above something more formulaic. I am begining to find except for a visual prompt, I cannot differentiate between Katy Perry, Beyonce, Rihanna, Cheryl Lloyd et al all sounds like same song writer, same producer etc I suppose if you're going for the same audience - tots'n'teens then I suppose the product would be the same anyway
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Richie Royale » Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:52 am

I've not heard any of her stuff. My missus says it is on the radio all the time, so I guess this is one good reason why it is selling.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Shambolic Charm » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:36 am

Scramble wrote:
Shambolic Charm wrote:Once someone gets up there in the big sales they seem to get shot at. SO now her sales are hyped, she is autotuned, lucky; It's down to her management etc. etc.
I think a lot of it is down to her exceptional vocal performances on prime time TV. I know lots of people went out and bought her album after the Brits performance, a lot of teenagers included. Many of my friends have also gotten into Adele's music through hearing their children playing it. She is not as pigeon holed as some may believe.

Yes, those performances made a big impact. But are you really saying that she isn't autotuned? That her management didn't play a role? (No-one here actually said it's down to her management). That the sales figures quoted are accurate?

In my experience in the business gossip is the greatest source of misinformation and I was pointing out the mostly negative slant being put on her success in this discussion.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby onesecondglance » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:59 pm

Shambolic Charm wrote:I think a lot of it is down to her exceptional vocal performances on prime time TV.

she's a pretty good singer but i'm not convinced she's an all time great, as many seem intent on presenting her.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby narcoman » Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:40 pm

Shambolic Charm wrote:

In my experience in the business gossip is the greatest source of misinformation and I was pointing out the mostly negative slant being put on her success in this discussion.

Nobody is decrying anything. There is no negative slant.

I shared some insider info (I could stop doing that if you'd all like..... September will be delighted that they had no impact in the deserved TEAM success). 12million sales is an incredible achievement.

17million sales is hyperbole. According to sources I bought my house on a million seller.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Shambolic Charm » Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:18 pm

Got plenty of sources of my own thanks
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Scramble » Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:21 pm

>Got plenty of sources of my own thanks

Share them here then!

Industry gossip is unreliable, but (a) I still want to hear it; (b) media figures are even less reliable.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Frisonic » Wed Mar 21, 2012 4:06 pm

Auto tune: I am a guitarist. I use a chromatic tuner several times every day and almost always before every time I record anything. Most instruments need tuning and most musicians will use the latest, cost accessible, most convenient method of achieving their own idea of the perfect pitch prior to every performance, even if its just for themselves. It used to be a tuning fork! So I fine tune my guitar to my own ear once I've tuned it into to 'technically correct' because that's a part of my sound and what makes me distinctive. So IMO for vocalists not to take advantage of the technology that is now available to them would be daft. But to use it the extent that their voice is no longer their own would be pointless (unless it was an occasional deviation made for 'artistic' effect). I have no problem with auto tune!

I was fascinated by Paul White's editorial a few issues ago, where he noted that we may be about to encounter the 'auto tune generation'. A generation that has had so little exposure to the raw human voice, in all its failings, that it cannot produce anything except perfect pitch. And a time when plug in makers are creating vocal humanizers instead of auto tuners!

What I mean by 'over processed' is faux instruments that have then been compressed and otherwise messed about with into a high impact, low nutrition vacuum packed product that relies upon oxygen starvation to maintain its shelf life. Or as narcoman more delicately put it current teenage tastes. Its probably just a prejudice based on my own tastes but to continue with the metaphor, if you've been living off fast food long enough there comes a time when 'slow food' begins to make a lot of sense...
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby blue manga » Wed Mar 21, 2012 4:15 pm

Shambolic Charm wrote:.
I think a lot of it is down to her exceptional vocal performances on prime time TV. I know lots of people went out and bought her album after the Brits performance

Really .. I don't follow 'pop' .. so having heard the hype over Adele I was surprised when I happened to catch her performance at the Brits (Disclaimer : I saw 25 minutes of the Brits by accident. Honest guv) ... well .. I thought it was about as good as an X-Factor performance.
Incredibly mediocre.

I have been informed that she has made great performances elsewhere .. although I'm not interested enough to .. well .. take an interest ..

- As for record sales .. she's a successful pop act with the full weight of the industry behind her. Sure she's gonna sell some units. I don't know what trend she's bucking exactly though.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby TheChorltonWheelie » Wed Mar 21, 2012 4:19 pm

OneWorld wrote:I thought Adele wrote all her own stuff, a completely solo effort?

The Spice Girls wrote all of their own material, according to their album sleeves, but the PRS statement, he says "no"...... step forward Stannard and Co.
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Re: Adele: Bucking the trend or leading the way?

Postby Pete Kaine » Wed Mar 21, 2012 4:31 pm

Shambolic Charm wrote:
I think a lot of it is down to her exceptional vocal performances on prime time TV. I know lots of people went out and bought her album after the Brits performance, a lot of teenagers included. Many of my friends have also gotten into Adele's music through hearing their children playing it. She is not as pigeon holed as some may believe.

Just to add to that and give XL a nod, they've done very well with not only licencing some very good remixes but also going lightly on the un-offical ones. The result is that everyone has heard of her, no matter what they are into.

I don't listen to the radio or watch music tv so the chances of me being exposed to an artist, even if they are that huge are admittedly small. I first heard of her via the High Contrast rmx of Hometown Glory and the NuTone rmx of Rolling in the deep is sublime both I suspect have helped raised her profile a great deal amongst those who normally wouldn't have listened to her.
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