Chris Christie sold 2,289 copies of his book “Republican Rescue.”
Now wait a second, this guy was EVERYWHERE! Does it really mean no one cares?
I think so.
But it gets worse…well, nothing could be worse, but… Billie Eilish sold 64,000 copies of her book, and Justin Timberlake’s “Hindsight” has sold 100,000 since its release in 2018. What does this tell us? Not only that selling a book can be difficult, but that being in the public eye, the beneficiary of reams of publicity, does not mean people will lay down their money for your work. Turns out fandom is oftentimes skin-deep. Of course there are superfans, who will buy every iteration of a CD and vinyl album, skewing first week sales so the public, even the media, thinks their work is a big success, but the truth is even some of our biggest heroes/icons/hypes are nowhere near as big as we perceive them to be.
Streaming is good for artists. Because the barrier to entry, to exposure, is so damn low. Don’t these wankers with few streams realize if it weren’t for Spotify, et al, almost NO ONE would be listening to their music! And the big acts benefit from this too. But just because an act has a track with a few hundred million streams, that does not mean it’s got a passionate fan base that will buy tickets.
Everybody is available, very few are desirable.
The media needs heroes to run up the flagpole, stars to influence somnambulant Grammy voters to nominate, but the public at large, do they really care? In most cases NO!
Where the rubber meets the road… There are very few automobiles with traction. Kind of like all those new electric car companies, the Wall Street IPOs…that’s all buzz, not reality. Manufacturing and shipping quality automobiles is not an easy task, never mind software and supply chain issues. You’d think Rivian is a powerhouse in the auto industry, but essentially it’s sold ZERO CARS!
Yes, we live in the age of data, and unfortunately data can be presented in a way to prove just about anything, to the point where facts no longer seem to exist.
And then there’s the spin. If people believe in QAnon, and are convinced Bill Gates has inserted microchips in covid vaccines, what chance do we have to get the truth to them re entertainers? Essentially none. Which is why entertainment has always functioned on smoke and mirrors. If Nielsen Soundscan was reporting troop deaths they’d give a lower value to those killed in tanks, and a higher value to those killed in a group, making the final number far from accurate, giving those who read them a skewed view, just like they do with album (sales)!
People don’t like reality. It hurts. Just ask Elizabeth Holmes. Let’s hope she gets convicted, but we already know there’s no truth in America anymore…you can’t even have faith in the Supreme Court, never mind some local court. Just like Steve Bannon’s bogus case scheduled to be heard on July 18th. Hmm… You’re arrested for robbery, if you can’t make bail your ass is in jail. But if you’re networked, in power, you skate, and in the end the President pardons you. I don’t care what you believe, but the truth is the public has lost faith in institutions.
Truth is Billie Eilish’s latest album is a stiff. She’s been superseded in the hearts of young people by Olivia Rodrigo, who will probably be superseded by someone else soon. And that’s fine, that’s the way it almost always has been, those who appeal to a younger demo, the boy bands, BTS, are flavors of the moment, they don’t last. But the media loves a story and those not living the reality 24/7 are prone to disinformation. The game in music is to last. Especially in the streaming era. And streaming is a way to make your name. Sure, you can get paid a ton if you have a big hit, but really it’s the road and other opportunities that generate your income.
Just like Miley Cyrus. Parents couldn’t get tickets for their kids. So the next tour went paperless and…turns out desire was just not that strong. It was a false mania, driven by scalpers. Which is why acts hate paperless, because too often it turns out demand is low, they can’t sell out.
It’s hard to get people to spend money. They’ve already got a subscription to a streaming service, they can check out your track, but lay down cash? Acts keep bitching that the new economics don’t work for them, but…who is going to actually buy their physical product? This is not the pre-internet era, with fewer than 10,000 releases a year. There are 60,000 new tracks A DAY, and it’s harder than ever to get noticed. Maybe you’re just not that big. But the truth is NO ONE IS THAT BIG! No one has the mindshare and reach of the pre-internet era, there are just too many options, and no one outlet where everybody is exposed to the same thing. If you’re bitching about streaming payments I hope you’re ready to give up your computer and jet back to 1988, because the world has completely changed and you must change with it.
Not that my words will make a difference. It FEELS like you’ve been ripped off, so it must be true. It FEELS like Billie Eilish is a big star, she’s got 97 million followers on Instagram, but she’s nowhere near as big as the perception.
And enough with the social media metrics, forget about the bots, the fakes, how many of those 97 million do you think actually see every post, even one post? How many never even check their feed?
At least in music the major label does not give you a deal until you prove yourself. Whereas in the book business they’re flying blind. They think these social media metrics are a reflection of hard core fandom, but they’re wrong.
Want to know if you’re a star?
Check your wallet.
Just like the corporate sponsors realized they were not getting their money’s worth sponsoring endless tours, the book business has been burned by social media stars and will tighten up the coffers.
So it all comes down to you. What you like, what you do. If nobody you know is talking about it, then it probably isn’t that big. Which is different from good, you can be good and go unnoticed in today’s topsy-turvy world. But if book publishers can’t get it right predicting success based on internet numbers, what are the odds politicos and pollsters truly know what is going on in America? Pretty damn low, ergo the Trump ascension. Chris Christie won as governor. But then he vacationed on a closed beach and uttered nonsense about Trump and he blew all his credibility. And the only people who didn’t realize this were those in the media! They should have said NO WAY to booking him. He’s toast, people don’t care about him, there’s no passion. And it’s all about passion. Without passion there is no sale. You want deep fans, who will stick by you, not looky-loos. Too many are caught up in the moment. Theranos’s idea was unworkable from the start, but fat cat oldsters, mostly men, were mesmerized by Elizabeth Holmes and invested nearly a billion dollars. And it turns out there was nothing there. Sometimes the truth is hiding right in front of your eyes. Chris Christie is a lug without fans, the public is not waiting with bated breath to read what teenager Billie Eilish has to say, and people were passionate about Justin Timberlake twenty years ago, when he was still in a boy band.
And Britney Spears is forty.
Can we please stop living in the past? It’s a changed world, but too many have not changed with it. The public was disinterested in Christie’s book, they knew the score. Forget publicity, if you want to know what is going on put your ear to the ground, listen to the people’s truth, but you might not want to hear it.