Everything lives and eventually, everything will die. You can ask any scientist if this is true and he or she will say yes. From that annoying squirrel that crawls up your tree to those smelly socks on your feet, everything will die … or does it?
Take the legendary British rock band, the Beatles. Sure, the group broke-up in 1970 and granted, John Lennon and George Harrison died. The point is this: the music the Beatles have produced for nearly 50 years is still being listened to by millions. These men are musical icons.
Can musical icons die though? In 1999, the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and KoRn were selling records like the Roadrunner outsmarting the Wily Coyote. All three acts rose to the top and started revolutions. These artists became the mother/father figures in their own genre. Once they emerged to the mainstream, so did groups and singers similar to these breakout phenomenons. The Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and KoRn raised the bar in this so-called labeled “pop-culture,” selling out arenas and getting multiplatinum record status. But once those all-star albums came out, future projects couldn’t compare, those later being labeled as commercial failures. Confused yet? Let me try to break it down for you.
A lot of records are terrible, but it doesn’t matter if a particular CD sucks or not. If a CD sells more than 2 millions units, then how can someone say it’s a failure? Are critics saying it’s a failure because a lot of money was spent making it and they won’t make the dough back? That is kind of hard to believe, especially if a record reaches multiplatinum status. Is it a failure because an album doesn’t sell as much as its’ predecessor? Not necessarily. It just means it didn’t sell as well. Still a bit confused? Maybe this will help. Take KoRn’ 1998 release, Follow The Leader. It sold around 6 million copies while their 1999 album, Issues sold at least 3 million. Around 2002, they dropped another project, Untouchables and only 2 million copies were moved. Untouchables was later considered a commercial failure.
Not every album is a success story; every artist will have an album or two that isn’t hot. If you are a consistent-selling talent, then it’s nothing to dwell on, but if you are a one-hit wonder, one bad song could ruin your career. For those who are unaware, one-hit wonders are artists who have a major hit, which everyone talks about, but the next tune they try to make popular just blows up in their face and the talent falls off the planet. Remember Hansen? They came out with that memorable (and somewhat annoying) jingle, “MMMBop.” Everybody ate them up like devil’s food cake! These three boys were adolescents whom had a good tune and long blonde hair. They were on top of the world for a year … before the public got tired of them. Their next effort raised less money than a lemonade stand. Hansen joins the list of classic 90’s one-hit wonders the Cardigans, Billy Ray Cyrus, Skee-Lo and Chumbawumba, all of which are true commercial failures.
One-hit wonders die, but do music icons? I’m still trying to figure out whether they will continue selling millions of records of if they’ll die like that annoying squirrel and pair of smelly socks. Maybe I’ll find out later this year as the Backstreet Boys release their first album since 2001. But people, please do me a favor … don’t call multiplatinum success a commercial failure.
6 replies on “Open Mic: Selling more than a Lemonade Stand!”
Actually you’re point about hansen is entirely wrong.
They made a killing off their music and now own and run their own indie label. Their newest release was number 1 on the independent charts for a number of weeks.
Please man i don’t mean to offend you, but this article didn’t make much sense at all, even with the prior knowledge of our phone conversations. Your examples only focus on majorly maintream pop music and the rise and fall of them. An Album is considered a commercial failure when it doesn’t make back the money it cost to make, distribute etc. At that point the Band is a money loser for their label, but not necessarily a commercial failure, just no longer profitable. Billy Ray Cyrus is by far not a commercial failure, the man made a killing off of Achy Breaky Heart and will continue to till the end of his days? and sure maybe his next album didn’t sell as well but its not like it was heavily promoted outside it’s genra nor does it cost all that much to make a pop-country album, i would guess it still turned a profit.
You have no definition of failure, you don’t really cite an example of something that works, and your analogies don’t make as much sense as they could. I can’t figure out for the life of me why you touched on the Beatles those guys were profitable from day one and still are and will be for at least another 50-80 years. Mentioning them in the same breath as the backstreet boys would be like mentioning them in the same as foreigner or van halen, not bad musicians and both ver sucessfull but not music icons.
Selling platinum doesn’t make you a musical icon either… The Great Milenko by Insane Clown Posse is i believe double platinum and they’ve never had a commercial hit.
I guess what I’m saying is, i didn’t understand what you were trying to get at, your idea wasn’t clear at all, either that or i missed something (which is very possible)
I’m kinda in agreement with both of you,
I can totally see where Bear is coming from, that some successful bands come and go but the ‘real’ icons never die, however I think John is right with what he said about the scope of band of which you set the measuring stick, comparing the Beatles to Hanson for instance isn’t even a debate,
At the end of the day a music icon doesn’t manifest by way of sales, its about the impact these artists have on people.
The Beatles are at one end of this spectrum, the most successful band of all time, they had a great appeal to guys who loved the music and girls that just drooled over them, but then at the other end of the spectrum you have someone like Jimmy Hendrix who probably didn’t sell anywhere near as many sales but was such an influence he will never be forgotton, same would go for Bob Marley or even 2Pac for a present day comparison,
The term icon is purely down to the individual, people today may think Britney Spears or Usher are icons but in years to come they will be forgotton unlike people like David Bowie or Annie Lennox
All about opinions of course 🙂
Can’t say i dissagree Matt, (though i don’t think Annie Lennox is an icon, at least not here in the US)/
Hehehe just an example, shes a big female recording artist that hasnt had the commercial success she probably deserves, hence why i used her
Actually the Insane Clown Posse did have one hit on MTV, can’t remember which one exactly, but I remember years ago seeing an ICP video a few times, during one of the more popular programs.