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Blog: Low, But Not That Low

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One of the loveliest things about having a webpage to call your own is that you get to find out how people came to visit it. The other day I followed a link from my server logs to find various people discussing this very website, where someone was finding it a "charming" look into the very lowest reaches of ROCK, drawing attention to the fact that the totaliser is currently at 70 copies sold. This is all very lovely and nice, but the INTERESTING thing is, I find, that 70 copies isn't actually THAT low! Many are the stories I have heard about Bands You Have Actually Heard Of selling similar quantities of albums, WITH advertising, rather more radio support, AND shop distribution. Talking to other label types I find a similar story, especially when you take into account RETURNS from shops of records unsold. Indeed, many of the bands I have known over the years who've thought they were doing well have found out years later that they sold very few CDs at all, usually far less than they gave away to their promotional people.

Usually, however, everyone keeps VERY quiet about this. It's not good for anybody's EGO to go around saying "An NME ON piece, live reviews online and 150 promo copies sent out has sold us precisely 2 extra albums!" and it's much nicer just to see a copy of your album in the local record shop and not think about why it's still there six months later. Lots of independent labels and bands seem to get quite hot under the collar about it, in fact, as it CLOUDS their self-images as potential million selling competitors with the majors.

I, on the other hand, am not that arsed. Everyone one of those 70 copies sold is a thing of joy and wonder to me, and through the MAGIC of the interweb I know exactly who bought about half of them, and can email them to say hello, if I wish to. I've also MET about half the people who've bought CDs too, which is also a beautiful thing, although the fact that there's people out there I DON'T know listening to it also fills me full of joy.

What I'm trying to say here is that yes, in some ways me and the Validators are camped on one of the lower plateaus on the mountain of ROCK. However, we're on the same level as an awful lot of people who'd claim to be much higher up, but unlike them we're looking around and appreciating the view.

posted 2/3/2004 by MJ Hibbett

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