• PoThePanda

What Does It Mean To "Flop" in 2020?



There was a time in music, specifically the CD-era, where if your album didn't go at least gold in less than a years time, it was considered an all around failure and disappointment of execution otherwise known as a "flop". With no social media or many file sharing platforms at this time, the only way to really hear an album was to buy it first. This meant even independent artist like a young Ludacris were able to move 300,000 units of his own mixtapes within months just from driving state to state, popping his trunk, and blasting the music out of his speakers while making his sales pitch to anyone in the parking lot. Fast forward to 2020, and most major artist on the biggest label rosters are lucky to see those numbers in a years time even with viral videos in the tens of millions of views. With the industry's adjustment to streaming platforms, what is it that truly signifies a flop in today's music market?



What sparked this topic was the recent events involving the rainbow haired troll of hip-hop, 6ix9ine. The New York rapper and convicted felon saw a surprising twist with the release of his album 'Tattle Tales' when first week projections dropped from 150k to 35k. With his first two singles of the year both respectively doing massive streaming numbers and landing Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100, fans were quick to call out the industry for once again meddling with the rules of album sales and bundle packaging just as the album's roll out hit it's peak. The merch and album bundling strategy would have given 6ix9ine the numbers he was looking for, but unfortunately after country legend Kenny Chesney finessed a number one spot on Billboard collecting over 200k album "sales" with his tour tickets bundle deal, it was reported only around 20,000 units were actually moved. The industry had to reconsider it's rules after this incident seeing that multiple artist outsold him in pure album sales including Drake who had also released his 'Dark Lane Demos' project that week. 6ix9ine ended up selling 55k first week, which on one hand beat the final projections and on the other hand is not even close to the original projections without help from bundling. From one perspective, selling 100k less than originally predicted is a huge sign of flopping, but selling 20k more than final projections with pure album sales can't quite be considered a failure, especially with unexpected changes that are out of your hands.



In this day and age of music, it's hard to tell if flopping matters or not since so many artist thrive off being social media personality's almost ninety percent of the time. You see most independent artist or less socially active artist like Frank Ocean do the same numbers as their peers who spend more time on the internet, but his bodies of work speak for themselves and don't need to be marketed to a certain audience to be critically acclaimed worldwide for years to come. You have rappers like Danny Brown who regularly see his projects end up on year end 'Best Albums' list while not always seeing that same album sell over 50k by the end of the year. With that being said, neither Frank's fans nor Danny's fans care about charts or accolades or Rolling Stone magazines list of what they think we like. They care about music they can enjoy until the end of time. Although sales can be telling on how long a career last, the longevity of an album is what really defines what legacy the artist leaves behind. If more artist focused on making timeless music instead of forcing the image of an artist that makes timeless music, selling stuff that's not music to make your music sell, and going viral on socials, the end result would be fans solely focused on the music again. A step in this direction is a step closer to Billboard and music culture in general being being back to what it was.


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