Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Pet Shop Boys' mis-handling by EMI

Neil TennantNeil Tennant via

We're used to hearing and reading how record companies don't have a clue about a great many things. To hear how one in particular can screw up the only thing it really knows how to do - release and market an album - well, that makes for interesting reading!

Tonight, when I got home, the latest issue of Pet Shop Boys' fanclub magazine, "Literally", was waiting for me.

Inside, was the story of the release of the duo's latest album Yes, back in March. It read like a catalogue of disasters the duo has faced at the hands of EMI's ineptitude. To be honest, the guys have been INCREDIBLY faithful to a label that has shown them contempt and disrespect over the years.

The problems, well documented but worth talking about again, would make me think twice about any allegiances I felt for my record label.

The download problem
On iTunes, 2 500 copies of the album had been pre-ordered. EMI ballsed up the release date data they provided to Apple, resulting in the album being available for purchase and download mid-week the week before actual release, and for the paltry sum of £5.49. It was eventually removed from purchase until the following week, but this action literally deprived the album of 2 500 purchases that would have counted to chart placement. A number 2 in the charts became a number 4.

As Neil Tennant says in the magazine, "All of the pre-order scams worked against the album, which makes my blood boil."

It was new technology that alerted the duo to EMI's cock up. Says Neil Tennant, "Someone Twittered us saying, 'I didn't realise the album was out already'."

Eastern promise
The physical release of lead single "Love Etc." was beset by issues of low to non-existent stock on shops like HMV or Amazon. This was put down to EMI pressing the discs in the UK and shipping half of them off to Europe for some reason.

Digital Bundle problem
One of the digital bundles EMI sold via iTunes for "Love Etc." featured two Yes album tracks as a pre-album taster. The plan was for the purchaser to only be able to purchase these tracks only as part of the single bundle with an offer to "complete the album" when Yes was released.

The tracks ended up being available individually and the "complete the album" offer never materialised.

Printing cockup
The initial run of the Yes Etc double CD set had a booklet that was printed with the pages bounded the wrong way round. A web page was set up where purchasers could apply to have a properly bound booklet mailed out to them.

This isn't a tale of EMI trying to come to terms with the new economy or trying to work out how to survive in the face of piracy. It's EMI trying to come to terms with releasing and marketing an album and single without cocking it up. Something they've apparently done for about 100 years.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
blog comments powered by Disqus