FEATURE// Platinum To Plastic: Why Aren’t Our Favorite Artist Selling?

Published on Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gone are the days when being an established artist guarantees record sales. Now, it’s all about promotion, radio, and hustle. With the ever-powering dominance of the internet, it’s rare for an artist to excel unless they have an online buzz to push their product. But recently, even established artists in the news are falling short of the goal line.

For a multi-platinum-selling and multi-Grammy Award winning artist such as Toni Braxton, low sales are highly unexpected. Despite moderate success on the singles charts with “Make My Heart,” “Hands Tied” and “Yesterday” featuring Trey Songz;  “Pulse” (picture above) debuted as a number one album on the Billboard R&B Charts.  Great Right? However only a little over 54,000 albums have been sold in total since its release week on May 4th, 2010.

Kelis—an artist celebrated for her eccentric voice, style, and alimony payments—is back in the news due to her low sales. Her recent effort “Flesh Tone,” released last Monday, followed the #1 US dance hit “Acapella” that charted in seven other countries internationally. “4th of July (Fire Works)” made a dent on the US dance and UK charts, but failed to reach success on mainstream radio.  The album sold a paltry 7,800 copies in her first week, lesser than the 10,700 of her debut album “Kaleidoscope.” What happened?

Some might speculate the negative attention she received following the divorce of hip hop star Nas to be the cause, but  doesn’t that counter the saying, ‘any publicity is good publicity’?

Toni Braxton and Kelis are definitely not the only artists suffering this decline. Other established artists such as Mariah Carey and Amerie have all reached US platinum and gold status in the past, but have yet to revive the same momentum for their latest efforts—no matter how successful the singles.

This year record sales reached its lowest point since the 1970s, making it an all-time-low.  Soundscan and record labels seem to blame the fast-paced internet for the record low album sales, but could another cause be lackluster music?  SOUND OFF.

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