August 14, 2017 monokrome

The Vamps & The Fate of Physical

Well, well, well… The Vamps have saved physical. Where Arcade Fire, Neil Young and Stormzy have all failed, hair-gelled heartthrobs, the Vamps, have stepped up to the plate and single-handedly (well actually octuple-handedly – there is four of them) stopped CDs falling into oblivion. Ok, not quite. Streaming is still by a country mile the most prevalent form of music consumption and CD sales have still been falling year-on-year, off the cliff towards the sea of obsoletion. The Vamps have just provided something of a parachute to slow the descent.

They managed to score a number 1 album, largely off the back of great physical sales in the week of release (chill out, Arcade Fire still got number one!). So good was the quality of The Vamps’ various deluxe CD packages and so frenzied is the nature of their fanbase that nearly all of the people who were going to buy a physical copy of the album did so in the first week.

The upside is that the healthy immediate physical sales pushed them to the top of the UK charts, as physical sales count more towards chart positioning than Spotify streams. The downside is that the rapid drop-off in CD sales after their most obsessive fans had purchased the album meant that they dropped straight down to number 35 the following week – the largest drop from the number 1 spot in British chart history. Oh well boys, at least good looks aren’t fleeting…

There are lessons to be learnt from the chart-topping/chart-dropping boy wonders though. Or perhaps, more specifically, the marketing team from Universal behind them. The key was in the gradation of the offerings. Lightweights could simply purchase the standard 8 track digital edition, middleweights could get the deluxe digital edition with 10 tracks with some videos from their Wake Up World Tour Live DVD whilst the heavyweights had a choice of the ‘Brad edition’, the ‘James edition’, the ‘Connor edition’  or the ‘Tristian edition’ – each with 2 exclusive tracks, a copy of the full live DVD and a poster of the respective band member. Full-on obsessives had the option of the ‘Collectors’ edition – all four versions of the album, signed by each member of the band, and a pre-sale code for the band’s upcoming tour. Why anyone would want to buy four versions of the same Vamps album at the same time is beyond my comprehension but, clearly enough of these uber-fans existed to help the Vamps secure the top spot, even if it was only for a week.

Clearly physical sales are not going to be surpassing streaming any time soon (or indeed, ever) but as George Garner puts forth in MusicWeek, “what these victories highlight is that music fans still want physical products”. He remains convinced that “so long as artists can think of inventive ways to package or complement their art by creating things worth owning, physical will keep on doing the business”.

Clearly then, it’s more vital than ever for artists to have a good distributor on their side; one with a solid understanding of the physical market as well as the streaming and download side. After all, as we saw last week, physical sales can make the difference between clinching the top spot and not. MonoKrome are working with Proper, the UK’s largest independent distributor, to give all our artists that crucial physical edge. We’re also working with pioneering Dutch distributor FUGA to deliver complete online distribution with a playlisting promotion service to make sure our brilliant digital repertoire gets the airplay it deserves. Having both physical and digital distribution handled by MonoKrome means that our artists are able to focus on creating their music and we can focus on putting it into the best formats possible. After all, we can’t leave the fate of physical in the hands of the Vamps!


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