Clip: Free tunes a profitable notion for Wilco
- I am failing Carl Wilson's Wilco Challenge to tweak the RIAA. Once again,
free downloading appears to benefit Wilco as advertising, not piracy.
Free tunes a profitable notion for Wilco
July 1, 2004
BY JIM DEROGATIS Pop Music Critic
Once again disproving the music industry's argument that downloading is
hurting album sales, Wilco's strategy of giving its music away for free on
the Internet has rewarded the band with the highest chart position ever for
its latest album.
The Chicago group's fifth release, "A Ghost Is Born," debuted at No. 8 on
the Billboard pop albums chart with sales of more than 81,000 copies,
according to SoundScan, the agency that monitors sales of discs at the
point of purchase.
In 2001, Wilco became a cause celebre in the war over online music when its
fourth album, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," was rejected by its label at the
time, Reprise Records. The group subsequently gave the album away for free
on the Net for some nine months, allowing listeners to sample its new
sounds, before the disc's official release in 2002 on a new label,
Nonesuch, the group's current home.
When the disc finally became available in stores, it debuted at No. 13,
selling 55,000 copies in its first week, the band's best numbers to that
point. The numbers for "A Ghost Is Born" top that accomplishment by 55
percent, according to the band's manager, Tony Margherita, even though the
new music was available on www.wilcoworld.net for several months prior to
the official release.
Topping the Billboard chart was rapper Jadakiss, whose sophomore solo
effort, ''Kiss of Death,'' sold 246,000 copies in its debut week.
Also a member of the Lox, Jadakiss first gained national attention with the
group's 1997 multiplatinum tribute to the Notorious B.I.G., ''We'll Always
Love Big Poppa.''
Usher's ''Confessions'' remains solid at No. 2 for the third week while a
60 percent decline to 143,000 copies sends last week's chart-topper, the
Beastie Boys' ''To the 5 Boroughs,'' to the No. 3 slot.