Wilco recently announced that their new album Wilco (The album) sold 99,000 copies in its first week. According to the band this is their best week of sales “by a longshot.”
While that’s great news for the band, moving 99,000 units in a week is rather unspectacular. In fact, it’s quite awful.
Our “awful” isn’t directed towards the band and their accomplishment, it’s directed towards the industry. For a band as good as Wilco, the 99,000 should be preceded by a “1” or a “2.”
Compared to other “alternative” artists with 2009 releases, Wilco’s 99k in first week is quite impressive.
Franz Ferdinand’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (released January 26th) sold 31,000 units.
The Decemberists’ The Hazards of Love (released March 24th) sold 19,210 units.
The Silversun Pickups’ Swoon (released April 14th) sold 43,000 units.
Depeche Mode’s Sounds of the Universe (released April 20th) sold 80,000 units.
Tori Amos’ Abnormally Attracted to Sin (released May 19th) sold 41,000 units.
However, who wants to be grouped in such a narrow category? If you’re in the business of recording music then you should want to sell as many albums as possible.
With brisk sales comes not only fame and fortune but power within the industry. Even if these goals are not important to Wilco, they should still want as many people as possible to listen to their music.
But if we compare Wilco to other 2009 releases, we learn that their sales were indeed quite woeful. This fact is rather shameful since there’s no artist listed below that far exceeds Wilco in terms of quality.
Bruce Springsteen’s Working on a Dream (released on January 27) sold 224,000 units.
The Fray’s self titled album (released on February 3rd) sold 179,000 units.
U2’s No Line On The Horizon (released February 27th) sold 484,000 units.
Kelly Clarkson’s All I Ever Wanted (released March 6) sold 255,000 units (90,000 in its second week).
Hannah Montana: The Movie Soundtrack (released March 24th) sold 137,592. In it’s second week it sold 87,000 units but it jumped to 196,00 in week three and 133,000 in week four.
Keith Urban’s Defying Gravity (released March 31st) sold 171,000 units.
Rascal Flatts’ Unstoppable (released April 7th) sold 351,000 units.
Jadakiss’ The Last Kiss (released April 7th) sold 135,000 units.
Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown (released May 15th) sold 215,000 units (in just three days).
Black Eyes Peas’ The E.N.D. (released June 3rd) sold 304,000 units.
Jonas Brothers’ Lines, Vines and Trying Times (released June 12) sold 247,000 units.
Wilco’s 99,000 copies is further diluted when consider that several artists on the above list outsold them at least 2 to 1.
Obviously, great music doesn’t necessarily lead to great sales. If it did, Wilco would have sold 199,000 not 99,000. Artists need to possess other characteristics to sell albums. What ever those characteristic are, Wilco doesn’t have them. That’s fine as long as Wilco keeps pumping out the music. After suffering through their best week of the sales, chances are they will.