Monday, January 05, 2009

The Definition Of A Flop

OK, so I got in this morning, only to check my voicemail and find numerous messages telling me that I'm dumb in not-as-nice terms.

You see, in my column about 2008, I joked about the crapstorm that happened when I panned David Archuleta's debut record. The folks on my machine wanted to let me know that the album did not flop, and that, in fact, I am an idiot.

Well, I would call them back and explain that it did flop and that I might be an idiot, but not about this, but, you see, these folks call at 10 p.m. at night and don't leave phone numbers.

So, let's get this out here: If you're a major-label artist with a company that invests millions on your promotion and your record hasn't even gone gold after two months, you're a flop. A flop. Let's say it one more time for good measure: You're a flop.

It doesn't matter that the record debuted at No. 2; that doesn't mean much. Oh, sure, it's a great accomplishment, but the key to not being a flop is to actually keep momentum, not plummet down the charts immediately. For example, David Cook's album, which came out a week later, has sold just about double the amount of units and will more than likely go platinum because it is still selling product. That is not a flop.

Or, let's put it in terms of a movie: A film may come in at No. 1 its opening weekend, but that doesn't make it a hit or mean it earned its budget back. Remember when "Semi-Pro" topped the box office in March by making $15 million in its first weekend? Well, the "comedy" then only made $18 million more, coming nowhere close to making its budget back. That's a flop. It doesn't matter that it topped the box office. That movie needed to make $100 million to be a real success, $75 million to be respectable.

To end this by responding to one guy who went to great pains on my voicemail to tell me that I need to check facts: Do not compare David Archuleta's debut to Taylor Swift's last album.

Her disc is a huge, huge hit that was also critically lauded, for good reason. She writes her own songs and will be around for a very long time. Archuleta's album was killed critically and tanked commercially. When you sell 400K on a major label, you usually get dropped by said label. That's the truth. So, to repeat my claim from my column: David Archuleta's debut tanked critically and commercially. You can love the album and buy three copies for yourself, but, in all honesty, the album tanked both ways. It's actually impossible to argue otherwise. Really.

Happy Monday everyone. I'll write up another blog entry later. Woo-hoo. But I'll leave you with this video, which I find hilarious. And, like another truth in my 2008 column, it's always good to see Erin Andrews. And this USC player knows that, which is another reason that the college should be playing for the national championship.


Annie said...

Dude, what are you talking about? David Archuleta's (DEBUT!) album WENT Gold 6-7 weeks after its release.

If David's album is a flop and his sales numbers so far mean he should get dropped by his label, well, sorry, but then its goodbye and Aufwiedersehen for quite a few well established stars, too!

You need to put things into relation!

As of mid-December 2008, when David’s sales already were around 560K, Pink (album out since October 2008) had just broken the 500K mark.

Katy Perry (album out since June 2008), who had two massive radiohits, had sold 660K.

Ne-Yo (out since September 2008) had sold almost 700K.

And T-Pain (new album was released on the same day as David's album) hadn't yet sold 350K.

Just to name a few who are considered as the big stars right now.

Artists like John Legend and Jennifer Hudson have sold less than David over a longer period of time. Christina Aguilera’s sales numbers are lower than David’s.

Look, he's not breaking sales records, and no one is claiming he is, nor is anyone expecting him to - leave that to Britney Spears, Beyonce and Taylor Swift (her album is a beast!). But he is doing pretty dang good, especially considering he is a new artist.

And before you say "But Cook is selling more"! - Great! Good for Cook! But just because David Cook is selling more, it doesn't mean that David Archuleta's album-sales are bad. David's are pretty dang good, Cookie's are even better. Good for both of them. It's as easy as that.

All that aside, I am pretty sure David Archuleta's promotion budget wasn’t as massive as you believe – because Jive doesn’t usually work like that. They push their artist via radio airplay, which David got with his (platinum!) debut-single “Crush”. From what I have seen, his promotion was mainly below-the-line: TV shows, radio station visits, public appearances, jingle ball shows, online buzz. I have seen moderate classic advertising for David’s album, nothing that would make me think Jive pushed massive amounts of money into advertising his album.

Sorry, dude, but maybe you should do some research and put things into relation before posting claims like “David’s album flopped”.

Pat Ferrucci said...


Thanks for the post. A lot of this is good information.

Here's my question to you: Where are you getting your sales figures? If I'm wrong, I have no problem admitting that, but the only figures I can see say about 440K. Are you looking at albums shippped? Because that's a completely different thing. Billboard has no gold certification for this album either in its certification listings or even on its chart.

I'm not sure where you're getting your other facts either. Jennifer Hudson's most recent disc went gold in barely a month. I don't have John Legend's handy, but ...

Also, his promotion was quite extensive. He was on numerous TV and radio shows, which is the only kind of promotion there really is with music anymore. He did pretty much every major TV show I can think of.

As for the responses here that I didn't publish for many reasons, if you still don't think this album flopped even critically, you need to get a life. Metacritic has it compiled as one of the worst scoring records of last year (

Anyway, I'm done with this subject. I got in to work yesterday and had to listen to about eight idiots ramble on through voicemails at odd hours so they knew I wouldn't pick up the phone, so this blog post got written.

Annie, if you have numbers I don't, send them over. And thank you for a good, informative post, even if I don't agree with it.


Anonymous said...

After giving a fair read to both your initial album review and this follow-up piece, I wonder how any intelligent reader could refrain from openly questioning your biases and motives in writing about Mr. Archuleta? Not very many, I would suspect. Not even amongst the non-fan set. Probably closer to zero than to 100. Indeed.

As an aside, I do note that you were raised in or around the same area as was Mr. Archuleta; yet obviously, you left that Mormon stronghold for New England. So, how do you feel, personally, about Salt Lake City, your childhood experiences there, the greater Mormon Community, the Mormon faith, and a Mormon's role in the US entertainment industry? How does it feel to be a native Utahn--a state known for producing conservative sons and daughters-- living amongst effete, liberal New Englanders?