I wonder if there is anything we can do to help. How about we all start bombarding these supermarkets and Decca/Universal with emails complaining about lack of availability. If enough of us do it, perhaps somebody might listen.
To be honest Jillian, they would have already been aware that her CDs wouldn't be stocked in the supermarkets. Getting an album out on the shelves is all pre-determined before the release.... The sales team meet up with chain stores bosses and try to convince them that their product will sell.
I think they have done all that they can. It's a downhill slide. Once one album doesn't sell enough, it's hard for any further albums to be put on the shelves. Then the next album isn't put on shelves at all, which makes it even harder for the next album. If it's not stocked in the first week, it won't be stocked at all. Regarding Tesco - they were selling RoD for £3 this year - because they had so many unsold copies. That tells them that Hayley Westenra is not worth investing in. But hopefully, Hayley's next release will come at a less competitive time so it will be easier to get Hayley on the shelves.
Whilst I agree with a lot of the above, I think there's more to it than the last album's performance, it's a series of things.
Yes, River of Dreams was a problem and a lot of our own members (including me) were surprised when it was released last year. The consensus was (I think) that it was too early in Hayley's recording career, after only three main albums, the third of which (Treasure) didn't sell particularly well (which in itself was partly down to poor timing of its UK release, we have discussed that before too). "Best Of" albums usually sell a lot worse than an artist's normal studio albums unless there is a lot of material to draw on, or the artist is for some reason in the news in a big way. River of Dreams was never going to do much and Decca should have known that it would impact adversely on the next release. Well, it did, but it could and should have been overcome - for example by pointing to the previous studio album, Treasure (19,000 first week/87,000 in all).
Hayley has been in the UK for most of the second half of the year and has had lots of good media exposure due to her charity involvements, so her public profile was good this time (unlike with Treasure, where she left the Country as soon as it was released). Most importantly, she was heavily involved with the ever-popular Dame Vera Lynn, the huge Poppy Appeal, sung at the Festival of Remembrance and appeared on Titchmarsh... very popular National TV programmes. Her Children in Need involvement too added to her public profile.
Decca would (or should!) have known about all the above months ago and frankly Nicola, me or you could have "sold" a 9th November release date to any supermarket music buyer, that and the week before and the week after after being at the peak of Hayley's media exposure. Failing that, we could probably have sold the 16th too... or possibly even the 30th, if planned at the beginning. But no, they had to mess about with the track listing and release date, clearly without getting a committment from the supermarkets to take it on the new date. It was a shambles.
Pre-sales performance is the other thing and that helps to determine how many will be ordered in, and the shelf positioning. Hayley's pre-sales were better than Camilla's and every bit as good as Faryl's so given a prior decision to take the album, it would have had similar prominence and availability as them. The fact that it has still managed to get inside the top 70 based on Monday's sales (with zero from supermarkets) proves it.
I say again, you or I could have sold this album to supermarket buyers months ago if we'd been given the job, given the known amount of forthcoming media exposure and that Hayley's last studio album Treasure sold as many as Pure in it's first week (19,000 - yes, really!).
This is something that obviously depends partly on all the above, for example, it would have been chopped right back (mainly to Classic FM) once Decca realised the supermarkets wouldn't be stocking it. It can of course be used in advance, to help persuade them to stock it... but they'd expect some TV ads and a release date near to Hayley's TV and media appearances (weeks ago!!!).
Potential Sales numbers
Christmas Albums in the UK never sell well. They do in the US, but not in the UK. A few examples: Josh Groban reached no. 58 with Noel (the biggest selling album of the year in the US). Celine Dion reached no. 20 with hers when she was at her peak, Mariah Carey peaked at no. 32 with hers and recently, Ronan Keating only reached no. 16 last week - 6 months ago he had a no. 1. Also, Andrea Bocelli this week... only no. 14, but no. 2 in the US. So they just don't, and as I said a few weeks ago, Winter Magic would be a success if it got into the UK top 40 at this time of year (assuming that it was in supermarkets). But now, the bar is "Top 100" and hopefully, Hayley will do that in spite of everything Decca can throw at her. But she will stuggle to reach the R o D sales total now (maybe 25-30,000) but if this had been done properly, she could have challenged the 87,000 sales of Treasure.
Management or Record Company?
Bedlam Management may have done all they can - their job is to get exposure for Hayley and they did that well. I think the problem more likely lies with the record company, who control the releases.
So there, I'm still annoyed and I don't care who reads this - but I've said enough.
Yes, a good analysis I think. I too am furious about this. And if things happen the way you suspect, then her NEXT album will also be affected. And it is possible that that will be her last! That is too horrible to comtemplate. So something has to be done.
Things like refusing to shop at the places that don't stock her won't help, they won't even notice, they have become too big in my opinion. A barrage of complaints and some bad publicity might.
But we need to know the root cause of this. If we know what had happened, we would know what has to be got right next time. And hopefully we could do our bit to help.
I would like to know what Hayley thinks about this, but I don't expect she will say anything. It isn't in her nature to bad mouth people, even when they deserve it. I expect she will just treat it as water under the bridge and carry on regardless.
Yes, Dave, I agree that moaning about it won't get us anywhere. We need to think about how this trend can be turned around.
Post by stevemacdonald on Dec 2, 2009 22:36:16 GMT
There might be a lot more to this album's sales figures than currently meet the eye. Winter Magic could potentially be re-released every year, with improvements and modifications along the way. Its song could wind up on future compilation albums, just as some of her previous Christmas songs have. Plus, there are so many more Christmas songs for Hayley to cover... one version cannot be all there is to it.
What will eventually make this a success story is Hayley herself gathering new fans each year. If she triples her fanbase and then re-releases WM with new songs to replace the ones that were considered too unremarkable, watch what happens. It's not uncommon for artists to tweak their Christmas material over time. I fully expect Decca to see this as a long-term investment. The initial WM we're all discussing is not the complete picture.
Maybe it is interesting for you that WM is on the 37th place on amazon.de classical new releases chart. on the website of the german electronics store "Saturn" she is even listed as 25 in classical new releases. That is quite good, when you think of the fact that hayley isn't very known here. I think that she will also be listed as classical in the official chart, but the media-control classical charts are only made mothly in germany so we won't know 'til the end of december how well hayley did if she doesn't get into the main album charts.
Well, Classic FM played an orchestral version on Sleigh Ride this morning, prompting me to ask my travelling companion whether he though that was a classical piece. He made the interesting comment that yes, it was, it is the instruments that are used that determine that. So since Hayley includes that song on WM, perhaps it is one more that I had discounted, and perhaps anything backed by a string quartet is then automatically classical. We shall see tomorrow if Classic FM includes WM in its chart.
It isn't merely the instrumentation that determines whether or not a work should be deemed classical. It also has to be written by a "recognised classical composer". So the question here is whether or not Leroy Anderson is one of those.
Leroy Anderson: American Composer of Light Concert Music (1908-1975). Mmm, he could be but who decides these things?
Yes, that's very debatable. Does Hayley herself qualify as a classical composer? CFM seem to want to help her, so maybe they will stretch the point for her. After all, some of the film music they play, and even orchestral versions of Queen's hits seem to qualify. So who knows.
Well, Classic FM played an orchestral version on Sleigh Ride this morning, prompting me to ask my travelling companion whether he though that was a classical piece. He made the interesting comment that yes, it was, it is the instruments that are used that determine that. So since Hayley includes that song on WM, perhaps it is one more that I had discounted, and perhaps anything backed by a string quartet is then automatically classical. We shall see tomorrow if Classic FM includes WM in its chart. Martin
The relevant Classic FM chart will not be revealed until one week after tomorrow, it is broadcast 6 days in arrears each week. However, I should be able to find out about the Classical Artist chart on Sunday evening (both charts use the same "classical" qualifying criteria).
But it is the main album chart that really matters as that will let me estimate the actual sales achieved this week. The classical chart alone is unlikely to allow such an estimate. Hayley may or may not be in the top 75 of the main chart, we shall have to wait and see. If it is in the top 75 I'll know on Sunday, if not it will be Monday. If forced to guess, I'd say she's sold around 6,000 from HMV and online (a half to a third of what she could have expected if in the supermarkets and with a bit of TV advertising).
It is usually possible to guage whether or not a Hayley album will qualify for the classical charts but on this occasion, it is not. If Decca want it in, they will have had to submit it to the official charts classical committee for a judgement on the marginal songs, of which there are several on Winter Magic. On this occasion, I simply don't know.
Personally, I do not consider releasing a Christmas album at this point in her career to be any better an idea than her previous greatest hits release was. Nothing about it plays to her strengths. With one or two exceptions the songs are pedestrian and do not allow her to showcase her voice. The only country where Xmas albums sell very well (the US) also happens to be one where she doesnt sell particularly well, and the album was never marketed here at all anyway.
While I understand and largely agree with your analysis for why the album is underperforming, Dave, I simply dont believe the concept has very much going for it to begin with. I never really understood the logic behind the greatest hits release either. The album will only sell half as well as it might have.....which to me only means they took a very bad concept and made it worse.
Too often, "Best of" releases, and Christmas releases merely indicate that someone is running out of ideas.
Nothing in life is perfect - and I thank God for that. When we say that something is perfect we are also saying that there can be no growth because any change must be for the worse. In the end, it is our errors which declare and affirm our humanity.
I must admit Jon I tend to agree with you. I don't think this album is as good as "Treasure". If only she'd made an album like Faryl which has a better repertoire. "O Holy Night" and "On wings of time" are serious omissions. I never understood why her Japanese albums weren't released in the UK anyway.
"My love is like a red, red rose that's newly sprung in June, My love is like a melody that's sweetly played in tune." (Robert Burns).