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-   -   Did the "Best Of" and ATYCLB "Save" U2? (https://www.u2interference.com/forums/f288/did-the-best-of-and-atyclb-save-u2-39160.html)

STING2 03-26-2002 03:22 PM

I think the only time U2 were ever in danger of being dropped by the label was after the October album. The label agreed to give 100% effort for the third album, but if WAR had failed, the band would of been on their own for the fourth album which would have had a harder time without the full support of the label. The initial contract signed in March 1980 was for four albums and that would have been the last one if WAR had not been a success.
In 1983 WAR sold 1.5 million copies and Island records went crazy and signed the band to a new deal after Under A Blood Red Sky completed the first contract.
In 1997 when U2 sold over 5.5 million copies, I don't think the record company ever thought of dropping them. Several albums in the top 20 worldwide last year failed to sale 5.5 million. 5.5 million is actually a huge sales figure. Most Dave Matthews albums sale less than 4 million worldwide. The label wanted to keep them after they sold 1.5 million in 1983, I can't see them wanting to get rid of them in 1997 for 5.5 million in sales. 5.5 million is a very large sum and would place in the top 20 in worldwide sales in just about any year.
Island Records never thought that ZOOROPA would sale as much as Achtung. What has really hurt ZOOROPA is not its initial sales, but the fact that people have not continued to buy that album after the first year.
There may of been a steady sales decline from Achtung to POP but I don't know of any record company that would turn down a band that can ship 4.5 million copies of album before it is even released. If you combine album sales with Concert Tours, U2 is the most popular artist in the world of the last 15 years. Rather than wonder if they would be dropped, one has to wonder about the competition that Island had to put up with to keep them on the label. So U2 was never in danger of being dropped.
Mariah Carey is a different type of artist from U2. She depends on instant sales in the first year and video and radio support is crucial. She is not really a popular live act compared to her album and single sales levels. Doing a concert tour for the last album to increase sales would not of worked and most likely would have only played to small venue's. Bottom line, she is a Pop artist that depends alone on heavy radio airplay to sale her product and if she does not get it she will not sale well at all. That is what happened with the last album. A total of 2 million copies were shipped worldwide including 500,000 copies in the USA. The album has reportedly only sold about half of the initial shipment. With rock artist, there is always the back up plan to sell the product with shows, plus rock artist tend to have much more loyal fan bases while pop artist fans are younger and more fickle, listen to a few songs on the album and rarely go to the artist shows. There are lots of pop fans, but you can lose them in a second if you hit a bump.
David Bowie was never a big seller in the same way that U2 has been, at least not in the USA. I don't think he has ever had a multi-platinum album in the USA.

STING2 03-26-2002 03:31 PM

Just like to state that U2 is signed to Universal Worldwide which owns Interscope. I think that its only in North America that Interscope is in charge of U2s album.
Also, REM has not been dropped partly because the band continue's to sale over 3 million copies worldwide with every release. Yes only 500,000 in the USA, but the total of 3 million worldwide is just as much as any Dave Matthews release except for the 2nd and 3rd studio releases.
Another thing to consider in all this is how well does the catalog albums by the artist continue to sale worldwide. Most POP artist have a short shelf life, while rock artist albums can continue to sale for decades. U2 on a global scale has one of the most impressive catalogs from a business perspective. Even if a new album is a true dud sales wise, you have the catalog which on a global scale year after year is huge.

Flying FuManchu 03-26-2002 03:33 PM

I thought U2 had sufficient buzz for their label with "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" which came out prior to Pop. Also wasn't the Mission Impossible Soundtrack's U2 offering a big hit and something that came before Pop as well? To be honest, I don't think U2 would have been dropped alah Carey. Isn't the Mariah circumstance an extreme situation and partly attributable to the how the music insustry is right now in terms of slumping sales, massive growth of internet/ file sharing, etc.?

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~ "You can't resist her. She's in your bones. She is your marrow and your ride home. You can't avoid her. She's in the air; in between molecules of oxygen and carbon dioxide." ~ RC

[This message has been edited by Flying FuManchu (edited 03-26-2002).]

Hitman 03-26-2002 03:37 PM

Good post Doctor Who...

Zooropa was considered a success. The album did big business around the world, was INCREDIBLY experimental, and as you said, there was little promotion and no US tour. Zooropa was considered the outlandish AB b-sides to many casual fans. Still, it did sell 7 million copies worldwide, and win a grammy for best alternative album. OS1 was not considered a U2 release. Most people I know were not even aware when it was released, and in the music stores it was in the new releases section and it did not say "U2" anywhere on the album. Besides, it is just about the strangest collection of "songs" I have ever heard. POP could have been considered a dissapointment, however. But the fact is, it just was not as strong an album as U2 is capable of making. I mean, LNOE is IMO the weakest U2 single of the past twenty years. I knew from the moment I heard they were making a video for it that it would not do well. I don't think U2 was in danger of being dropped, but I do think ATYCLB, and even before that 'Beautiful Day'... did a world of good to repair much of the luster that was lost for U2.

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Live As If You'll Die Tomorrow, Dream As If You'll Live Forever

*Stormy* 03-26-2002 04:15 PM

Excellent points, Doctorwho. I agree.

Zoocifer 03-26-2002 05:16 PM

1. Album sales does not make a band.

2. Yes, the "Best of" and ATYCLB saved U2 in the public eye, but U2 would've still had a fan base.

~b~

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" You love this town - even if that doesn't ring true. You've been all over, and it's been all over you " - Bono

" Don't you know there ain't no Devil, that's just God when he's drunk " - Tom Waits

MBH 03-26-2002 05:45 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by doctorwho:
These days, it seems like labels are dropping anyone that doesn't sell a million copies of their new release the first week. Famous artists like David Bowie and Mariah Carey (who, like her or not, is the only person every to have a #1 hit for 10 consecutive years) have been dropped from their labels. New artists are dropped long before they even have a chance. This got me "a-thinking" (you can probably smell the wood burning now). https://forum.interference.com/u2feedback/biggrin.gif

U2, fortunately, was signed in the late 70's, when labels still gave artists a chance to make it big before being dropped. And that investment eventually paid off huge for Island.

However, I was wondering - were U2 in danger of being dropped after "Pop?" As we all know, AB was a huge hit. It sold over 10 million copies worldwide the first year and eventually went 8x Platinum in the U.S. This gave U2 three consecutive monster-selling releases (JT, R&H and AB).

After AB, as you all know, U2 released "Zooropa." The album hit #1 and went double Platinum in the U.S. "Zooropa" sold between 6-7 million worldwide. While this is below the "standard" U2 had set for themselves with JT, R&H and AB, for an album that was quickly recorded and received little promotion, the label had to be happy. Still, the drop in sales may have had a few people start wondering...

Then U2 release OS1. Granted, this was under the name "The Passengers" and received virtually no promotion in the U.S. Still, one might have thought that the U2 name alone would have been enough to at least generate moderate sales (enough to at least be certified Gold). Yet, the album only sold about 20,000 copies its first week (in the U.S.) and quickly fell after that.

Then came "Pop." One could argue that most people never even heard of OS1, and since it's not technically a U2 release, one shouldn't have expected big sales. Also, one could argue that the minimal promotion for "Zooropa" and the lack of a tour in the U.S. in support of this album caused sales to decline a bit. Both points are quite valid. However, with "Pop" there was promotion. There were tons of articles in Rolling Stone and SPIN. There were press announcements and "U2 days" on MTV. There was a huge world tour. Yet, despite it all, "Pop" only reached Platinum status in the U.S. and has sold between 5-6 million copies worldwide.

So, if one looks at it from a record executive's point of view, that's three consecutive albums ("Zooropa," OS1 and "Pop") that failed to generate huge sales. Furthermore, the trend from AB to "Zooropa" to "Pop" shows U2 declining in popularity and sales. Is having a platinum selling album enough in today's world? Is selling 5-6 million copies worldwide enough? Can one maintain a record contract with those sales?

Therefore, I wonder if some executives were really giving U2 "one more chance." If the "Best Of" and, more importantly, ATYCLB, failed to generate strong sales, would we now be hearing that U2 was dropped from their label? If ATYCLB only went Gold and quickly fell from the charts, would we even be talking about a new release? Did the fact that the "Best Of" and ATYCLB sell over 20 million copies worldwide between them help save U2's career (or at least their recording contract)?

Just some thoughts on a dreary Tuesday afternoon (as I avoid work).

[This message has been edited by doctorwho (edited 03-26-2002).]

Some good points, now get back to work!
Just kidding....

Really, I have thought some similar things, except that I have a different take on the subject altogether.

I wonder WHY U2 made ATYCLB. Did they make it to be popular? Did they make it FOR the public? Did their intentions come from the heart or did they just wanna be big and make money?

I have wrestled with these thoughts for quite some time. After hearing Bono say, "we wanted to be relevant with this record," and hearing Larry say during POP, "lets make a pop album for our next record," it make me wonder.

Look, I think that ATYCLB is an excellent album and U2's finest, most cohesive work since AB. However, these aforementioned remarks combined with some of their questionable corporate associations(i.e. Best Buy, Target) make me wonder if U2's intentions are now more motivated by money rather than love of music.

Foxxern 03-26-2002 06:22 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by MBH:
However, these aforementioned remarks combined with some of their questionable corporate associations(i.e. Best Buy, Target) make me wonder if U2's intentions are now more motivated by money rather than love of music.
Yeah, that combined with their failure to tour ATYCLB outside of NA and Europe due to the "weak currency" in many of these countries. It makes me wonder how they were always able to cover the rest of the world before. It's not as though they have only toured countries during strong economic times.

Sometimes I wonder if Interscope isn't taking too much control over the band nowadays. I remember Edge saying that he was surprised that there were no singles being released in the US. This makes me think that the band was not even approached for their opinion here. I'm starting to think that Interscope are the ones keeping them from touring more elsewhere, and also are the ones promoting all of these deals with retail outlets here.

The reason Mariah was dropped from her record label was most likely a combination of poor album sales, as well as her well-publicized psychological problems. Virgin Records likely saw her as too much of a liability, and decided that she had fallen well off of her peak popularity. With U2, Interscope/Island still saw that they had a strong fan base, and so I doubt U2 being dropped was really ever a possibility. Like it was stated before, U2 are the most popular band of the past 15 years. Even if ATYCLB hadn't been such a success in the US, it is likely that Elevation still would have done well.



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Change is the only constant

what a bomb! 03-26-2002 08:42 PM

WHO THE FECK IS DAVE MATTHEWS??????

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Round and round the forum I go, where I stop nobody knows, cos I'm a annoying little piece of...Interference!

doctorwho 03-26-2002 10:30 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by Zoocifer:
1. Album sales does not make a band.
Of course not. However, if they want a recording contract, sales sure do help. https://forum.interference.com/u2feedback/biggrin.gif

Quote:

2. Yes, the "Best of" and ATYCLB saved U2 in the public eye, but U2 would've still had a fan base.

Again, I agree. Their past success alone would have been enough for many fans. But that wasn't the point of my post now, was it?

Thanks for playing though! https://forum.interference.com/u2feedback/biggrin.gif

STING2 03-26-2002 10:43 PM

The band waited almost two years after the Joshua Tree tour was over to come to Australia for only the 2nd time. Also U2 skipped New Zealand on POPMART. Their first time ever to South America was on POPMART.
My point is that the only places that have recieved tours on a consitent basis through out U2s career are Europe and North America. The decision not to tour is not a radical departure from what the band has done in the past. The band stated on POPMART that they were prepared to go places and not make money, but they were not prepared to go places and lose money.
I've heard BONO using the word relevent a lot over the past 15 years. Based on the bands history I don't see anything very different from a business perspective when looking at ATYCLB and Elevation. The band wanted to make the best album they had ever made, and according to the Edge they almost did, "2nd only to Achtung Baby".

doctorwho 03-27-2002 02:25 AM

Did the "Best Of" and ATYCLB "Save" U2?
 
These days, it seems like labels are dropping anyone that doesn't sell a million copies of their new release the first week. Famous artists like David Bowie and Mariah Carey (who, like her or not, is the only person every to have a #1 hit for 10 consecutive years) have been dropped from their labels. New artists are dropped long before they even have a chance. This got me "a-thinking" (you can probably smell the wood burning now). https://forum.interference.com/u2feedback/biggrin.gif

U2, fortunately, was signed in the late 70's, when labels still gave artists a chance to make it big before being dropped. And that investment eventually paid off huge for Island.

However, I was wondering - were U2 in danger of being dropped after "Pop?" As we all know, AB was a huge hit. It sold over 10 million copies worldwide the first year and eventually went 8x Platinum in the U.S. This gave U2 three consecutive monster-selling releases (JT, R&H and AB).

After AB, as you all know, U2 released "Zooropa." The album hit #1 and went double Platinum in the U.S. "Zooropa" sold between 6-7 million worldwide. While this is below the "standard" U2 had set for themselves with JT, R&H and AB, for an album that was quickly recorded and received little promotion, the label had to be happy. Still, the drop in sales may have had a few people start wondering...

Then U2 release OS1. Granted, this was under the name "The Passengers" and received virtually no promotion in the U.S. Still, one might have thought that the U2 name alone would have been enough to at least generate moderate sales (enough to at least be certified Gold). Yet, the album only sold about 20,000 copies its first week (in the U.S.) and quickly fell after that.

Then came "Pop." One could argue that most people never even heard of OS1, and since it's not technically a U2 release, one shouldn't have expected big sales. Also, one could argue that the minimal promotion for "Zooropa" and the lack of a tour in the U.S. in support of this album caused sales to decline a bit. Both points are quite valid. However, with "Pop" there was promotion. There were tons of articles in Rolling Stone and SPIN. There were press announcements and "U2 days" on MTV. There was a huge world tour. Yet, despite it all, "Pop" only reached Platinum status in the U.S. and has sold between 5-6 million copies worldwide.

So, if one looks at it from a record executive's point of view, that's three consecutive albums ("Zooropa," OS1 and "Pop") that failed to generate huge sales. Furthermore, the trend from AB to "Zooropa" to "Pop" shows U2 declining in popularity and sales. Is having a platinum selling album enough in today's world? Is selling 5-6 million copies worldwide enough? Can one maintain a record contract with those sales?

Therefore, I wonder if some executives were really giving U2 "one more chance." If the "Best Of" and, more importantly, ATYCLB, failed to generate strong sales, would we now be hearing that U2 was dropped from their label? If ATYCLB only went Gold and quickly fell from the charts, would we even be talking about a new release? Did the fact that the "Best Of" and ATYCLB sell over 20 million copies worldwide between them help save U2's career (or at least their recording contract)?

Just some thoughts on a dreary Tuesday afternoon (as I avoid work).



[This message has been edited by doctorwho (edited 03-26-2002).]

Am I Zoo 03-27-2002 02:46 AM

I think it would depend on the specifics of the band's contract w/the record company. When a superstar like M. Carey is dropped it's because she's simply too expensive to keep. Some people probably detect that Carey's time as an A-list status is on the wane; and yet, she needs consistently mega-sized sales to justify her big contract. I a perverse way, a small band can be far more profitable -- not nearly as much overhead.

I think the REM deal must have spooked a lot of record execs. If I remember right, the band signed w/Warner Bros for a whopping $80 million in the mid-90s. But they have failed to justify the investment -- their records don't even go platinum anymore.

I do think U2's big comeback over the past couple years gives them major muscle in any negotiating in the near future. I have no idea how long they're committed to Interscope. Anyone know if it was a multi-album agreement?

By the way, doctor who, since you're usually a pretty damn knowledgable chap, please check out my Genesis of JT thread (just posted) and see if you can illuminate any of my questions...

elevatedmole 03-27-2002 02:50 AM

That was a really good post, doctorwho.

Unfortunately, I believe that Best Of and ATYCLB probably did save U2, as hard as it is to say. U2 didn't reach the mainstream like they did with previous albums and they would be falling off the charts if they kept going in the direction they were headed, I think.

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"You must not look down on someone just 'cos they are 14 years old. When I was that age I listened to the music of John Lennon and it changed my way of seeing things, so I'm just glad that 14 year olds are coming to see U2 rather than group X." - Bono, 1988

Saracene 03-27-2002 04:52 AM

"I wonder WHY U2 made ATYCLB. Did they make it to be popular? Did they make it FOR the public? Did their intentions come from the heart or did they just wanna be big and make money?"

I think they simply did what they've always done: they've made a bloody good album they were proud of and they also wanted it to sell gazillions. They were millionaires many times over way before ATYCLB, I think it indicates pretty well on what they think about making money. It's not as if they earned all those millions accidentally. Anyway, it would be naive to think that they got to where they are now by simply following their hearts and making music just because they loved it. It took that -and- some clever business strategies and calculated decisions.

Bono's pet Frog 03-27-2002 05:29 AM

David Bowie wasn't dropped by Virgin, he left on his own accord.
Also, he sold quite a lot of albums in america (young americans and let's dance to name but two, granted that was eons ago).

Dima 03-27-2002 07:40 AM

don't be fool...5 million copies worldwide is still in top 40 of any year's album sales chart...would you drop a guaranteed top 40 act?...be serious https://forum.interference.com/u2feedback/wink.gif

doctorwho 03-27-2002 08:48 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Dima:
don't be fool...5 million copies worldwide is still in top 40 of any year's album sales chart...would you drop a guaranteed top 40 act?...be serious https://forum.interference.com/u2feedback/wink.gif

It all depends on how much I spend on this Top 40 act. If I'm an executive spending millions of $$ for studio time, millions on videos and millions more on promotions, perhaps 5 million copies sold isn't enough. I don't know this type of data, so I'm not sure. Hence why I asked my question. https://forum.interference.com/u2feedback/biggrin.gif

STING2 03-27-2002 11:51 AM

The band has stated on many occasions that what happens and turns out on the record is about accidents and evolutions. The contrived idea never happens simply because writing music can be difficult and a bit of a mystery even to the writer.
Lets Dance only sold 1.5 million in the USA by the way.

MrPryck2U 03-27-2002 12:26 PM

No, those albums didn't save U2. I'm not gonna spend 3 paragraphs explaining why. U2 don't need to have multiplatinum success to be able to continue. I mean look at Pearl Jam. They haven't had major success from an album since Vitology and that was back in '94/95.

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The goal is ELEVATION!


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