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Blog: Financial Drivers

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For today's FINAL bit of specific analysis (don't panic, FACT FANS, there is BROADER analysis still to come!) I'm going to look at specific SALES DRIVERS in terms of where I played, who I played with and WHAT I played. In theory, by doing this, we should be able to work out where, what and with who I should go out and play in future in order to MAXIMISE REVENUE. I can see no possible way in which this could not work, and anybody who says otherwise is just a member of the left-wing economic establishment and/or anti-growth coalition!

So, let's kick off by finishing off the VENUE analysis from last week. Back then we looked at sales by specific venue, but today we're going to look at cities and general AREAS. I've got 24 seperate overall areas listed in The Database Of ROCK, and here's how they rank in terms of average sales.

Average Units Shifted Per Gig By City/Area
citySalesGigsAvg per gig
Outside UK55143.93

The first thing to say is that The Indietracks Effect is in full flow here, pushing Derby right to the top. In the nicest possible way, and with all due respect to that wonderful city, I do not recall selling HUGE amounts of MERCH there outside of Butterley!

After that though - Manchester! MANCHESTER?!? What the?!? Now, this is partly due to the fact that we did the Retrovision convention there and sold all those t-shirts, but is not the whole story, as looking through the records I have clearly sold other stuff there at other gigs. This is WEIRD for me because I have always thought that Manchester was one of those places (along with Brighton and Leeds) where I have never sufficiently BROKEN into people's hearts, but this seems to suggest very much otherwise.

Lovely HULL is next, which pleases me no end, followed by General Non-UK Places, which largely means GERMANY. Further down the list we can see that London and Leiceseter are not particular HOT SPOTS for me, despite playing there so often - or perhaps, fellow Economics Experts - it is BECAUSE I have played there so often? As we've already discussed, sales tend to be higher in places where the audience are less likely to have already seen me and BOUGHT stuff, so it must therefore be true that they will be lower in places where they've had AMPLE chance to do so in the past.

None of this analysis, however, can quite prepare us for the fact that Edinburgh, fantastic Edinburgh, is right down at the very bottom of the list, with a paltry average of 0.04 units sold per gig! To be absolutely fair to AULD REEKIE, the vast majority of my gigs there have been at The Fringe and buying merch is on NOBODY'S list of priorities there. I discovered this very early on when Steve and I set off the first time with a big bag full of copies of the It Only Works Because You're Here/My Exciting Life In ROCK EP which we'd DESIGNED to be able to sell at that show... and came back with a big bag STILL full of them. When a performance finishes at The Fringe the audience is practically DRIVEN OUT ready for the next show, so commercial activities are rather restricted!

These facts will, I feel, feed into our next table, as we look at how the different LINE-UPS fared in sales terms.

Sales By Gig Type
Gig TypeSalesGigsAvg per gig

As I say, clearly Fringe Shows are NOT the ideal space for selling merch, especially when your entire production and audience management team are ALSO your entire cast! Crikey though, look at how much more likely we were to shift units with The Vlads rather than just on my own! Again, this is at least partly due to the fact that all of the Big Unit Shifting Gigs (Indietracks, Retro Conventions, shows abroad) were ALSO Validators ones... although I am sure that some people (i.e. The Validators) might argue that those were Big Unit Shifting Gigs BECAUSE they were Validators ones! It's pretty clear either way that something is going on here - could it be that people LIKE The Validators more than just me? Or do they FEAR the larger group more, and feel compelled to please us with CA$H?

Or could it be something to do with WHAT each of these different line-ups play? For the final table today (and possibly final table for this whole thing) I'm going to have a look at the SONGS played, and the average UNITS SHIFTED at gigs WHERE they were played!

Sales By Songs (for songs played at 10+ gigs)
SongSalesGigsAvg per gig
I Want To Find Out How It Ends163208.15
Quality Of Life Enhancement Device210316.77
(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock334704.77
Better Things To Do213454.73
Leave My Brother Alone198434.6
Mental Judo141314.55
Tell Me Something You Do Like48114.36
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid4781223.92
The Gay Train5861523.86
The Saturday Lunchtime Wrestlers36103.6
Payday Is The Best Day116333.52
Do The Indie Kid5291513.5
Easily Impressed8712493.5
We Only Ever Meet In Church65193.42

Now, before we go any further, I am a little unsure of the methodology here - what I did was get the total sales for each GIG and then apply that number to each of the songs played AT those gigs, then divided it by the number of times those particular songs were played overall - with all figures taken from 2005 onwards, as that's when the setlists data properly begins. I've also PRUNED the overall table to remove one-offs and so on - if I hadn't then Hey Hey 64K would have been the overwhelming winner, as it was played ONCE only, at a retro computing show. I decided to go for songs that have been done at least 10 times to get round this, which I think sort of works, but I'm sure an Actual Statistician would want to weight it all somehow for setlist length etc. As I've said before, I'm going to UNLEASH the data soon, and so the aforesaid Actual Statisticians can GO KRAZY then!

With all that said - CRUMBS, what a RUM old list eh? The only way I can even start to explain it is by saying that most of the big hitters are songs I'd usually do with The Validators, and which were played mostly during our POMP when we were selling more CDs in the live environment. GRATE examples of this are Quality Of Life Enhancement Device and Better Things To Do, which were played A LOT during the promotional period for WE VALIDATE! (which is far and away our best selling album on overall sales, by the way) but then were NOT played very much in later years when, SHALL WE SAY, our appeal became more selective.

The clear winner though is I Want To Find Out How It Ends, which was released comparatively recently on Still Valid, so doesn't have the benefit of our POMP years. However, as we can see from its list of gigs played at, it WAS played at several festivals and all-dayers where people hadn't necessarily seen us before, and then WASN'T played by ME at later gigs where people were more SHALL WE SAY in tune with nature than grubby monetarism. Still, it is a REMARKABLE finding, and not at all what I was expecting to discover here!

The bottom of the list mostly features songs from shows, but then right at the VERY bottom is a bit of a surprise - Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer with an average of 0.02 units shifted per gig i.e. it has been played at 41 gigs, but only ONE item has EVER been sold at any of them! Now, obviously there are LOADS of other songs that have never been involved in a unit-shifting operation at ALL - Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer comes 97th in the chart of sales, and we already know that I've played 267 different songs at shows over these years - but STILL, I thought that song would do better. It WAS part of the Hey Hey16K Fringe show so would suffer from the "the audience has left the building immediately" factor, but it's also been played by The Validators at festivals quite a bit... although, actually, that's been at BEER festivals which, despite being festivals that people go to specifically to GET DRUNK, have never really been great places for sales, almost as if seeing LIVE INDIE ROCK was not people's primary focus there.

I'm sure there's MUCH more to say on this and all other matters, but I think we'll leave that until tomorrow, when I will attempt to answer the burning question: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN EH? See you then!

posted 20/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett

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