Which Came First, The Chicken Or The Egg?

11.18.09 8 years ago 86 Comments

According to Soundscan, Attention Deficit sold 28,100 copies last week. In this day and age, when album sales are as tough to pick as the winning lotto numbers it’s hard to gauge what’s a success or failure. But when you come to find out that only 30,000 were shipped it can cause one to stop and scratch their head in puzzlement for a second. So the question needs to be asked whose fault is it.

The chicken (Interscope)? Or the egg (Wale/Attention Deficit)?

“This is my biography. It’s honest. Raw emotion. It’s close to me. That’s why part of me will be a little offended if it doesn’t get heard. I don’t want people to take lack of sales as me taking a hit. This is something different. My label is letting me put out an album with a single that released seven months ago. We’re not going for first week sales. We’re only shipping out 30,000 of them. We’re going for that grind. We’re showing people that you can build a fan base the old fashioned way.” – Wale in  Honey Magazine

Sure “Chillin’” didn’t set the world on fire (although it does get spins), but there wasn’t much more Wale could have done. He’s made countless high profile media appearances & been on tour with Jay-Z for the last few months. I know for a fact that he was touring before that, because I’ve seen him myself twice this summer. He’s put out new material outside of the album and has been featured on other prominent artists’ work. So dude’s done his due diligence in regards to going out and keeping his self in the forefront. Since I don’t have idea on the particulars on his contract, it appears he’s saying the right things about his album being under shipped, because you’d think he’d want units sold to recoup. Or is recouping a thing of the past nowadays?

In my mind, the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the record label. Because if 30,000 is the amount they actually decided to ship out, they severely under shipped it. As it stands, 93% of the copies put out were sold, leaving roughly 1,99 copies on store shelves scattered across the country. I mean, 30,000 copies break down to 600 copies per state. What crackerjack executive had the envious task of diving up where the album went? You’d think they’d be able to sell 30,000 in the DMV area alone. And if they got extra copies, then it’d only makes fewer copies available for everywhere else.

Meaning people probably went out looking for the album and left the store empty-handed. I was not one of them, despite my affinity for the album. I’ve gotten into the habit of picking up multiple albums at a time when the mood strikes instead of running to Best Buy or Target every week. So I can appreciate wanting to keep album sales going week after week. . Hopefully, the old fashioned way will work for Wale & Interscope, but it hasn’t worked out too well for many other recently. Those same people, who didn’t find Attention Deficit, might not be so willing to trek out in search of it again. And that’s were under-shipping could come back to bite you.

First week sales don’t make an album a success or even good. But it’s the one time where (barring an Oprah appearance a week or so after your album release) that anything is possible.  Maybe Interscope played it right and it would’ve sold that amount if they had shipped out 115,000 copies.  We’ll never know now.  If you want to win, you have to play the game. It’s hard to play catch-up when you’ve already dug yourself in a hole.

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