Vampire Weekend, a Spotify Holdout, Scores a Number One Album…

This is why ‘windowing’ could become a very serious problem for streaming services in the future.  Because even though Spotify insists that streaming has no negative impact on download sales, it’s really hard to prove that.  And, in the case of Vampire Weekend, it’s really hard to argue with success.

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According to stats compiled by Nielsen Soundscan and shared with Digital Music News by a major label executive, Vampire Weekend sold more than 134,000 first-week units of their latest release, Modern Vampires of the City.  These are US-only figures, and easily enough for a number one album chart position, according to the source.  Other releases from George Strait and Demi Lavato lagged considerably behind.

At present (Thursday), Modern Vampires still remains unavailable on Spotify, and it’s unclear exactly when the band will upload it for streaming.  In a recent Reddit AMA, the band indicated that Spotify’s seconds would come in a few weeks; ie, enough time to maximize the early download (and even CD) demand for the album.

Meanwhile, Modern Vampires remains a heavily-promoted iTunes exclusive, with top-level, masthead positioning across the entire iTunes Store (as of Wednesday afternoon).

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The attention now shifts to Daft Punk, whose Random Access Memories is now available on Spotify in the US and worldwide.  The album’s ‘official release date’ was the 21st, though that seems like a formality given a massive, week-plus streaming exclusive on iTunes (other countries got streaming access earlier).

Throughout the Daft Punk iTunes exclusive, streaming users were encouraged to pre-order a complete album download.  Those sales will now be ushered into the first week total, which technically starts now.

24 Responses

  1. McQuade

    This will always be the mystery of the music business. Mainly because each band and their fans buying/streaming behavior are different so there’s no way to determine any solid correlations across the industry. I would venture that a new Vampire Weekend album still would have been number one, regardless of its streaming availlability. They’re established and popular. At this point I don’t think either side has yet to prove their case definitively.

  2. Champion

    Justin Timberlake, a day 1 Spotify availability story, scores a number one album.
    Easy stories are easy.

  3. GGG

    Can you go through the last year+ of number 1s for us and match up who held out and who didn’t?

    • david@indigoboom

      Here is some research on this.
      No evidence so far that streaming a release damages anything.

      • hippydog

        except that research isnt “research”
        looking at the billboard charts where streaming data was included just recently..
        Where your comparing different genres and different fan groups and popularity
        Where none really have much in common (because of the small data represented)
        is completely meaningless..
        there is still NOT enough evidence for either aurguement..

  4. Stu

    Taylor Swift, Black Keys, Vampire Weekend: holdouts, big sellers. Bruno Mars, One Direction, Bowie, Mumford & Sons, (probably) Daft Punk: not holdouts, big sellers.
    In none of these cases do we know how many more or less albums they’d have sold if they were/weren’t streaming.
    So… Respectfully unsure why Vampire Weekend sales are a problem for streaming if the non-holdouts above aren’t an argument in its favour, or at least in favour of streaming complementing sales.
    All I can see being proved here is that a.) hotly-anticipated albums sell well in their first week, and b.) iTunes homepage promotions are still powerful.

    • GGG

      Based on the fact that they are still an indie band by association, I don’t think it’s crazy to hypthesize that holding out Spotify probably caused more people to pirate the music than to buy it, or they are at the least fairly evenly split. Holding out probably cost them a ton of Spotify money (ton being relative to Spotify) because people in that scene love to hear what everyone’s talking about. But they won’t buy it.
      Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

      • Hansh

        I guess it is easy. If you have switched from buying to Spotify will probably buy the album. If you are a former pirate you will pirate the songs. You go back to the terrain you know best.

      • hippydog

        Thats a tough one to predict..
        I agree with Hansh’s comment that people use what they are confortable with..
        and if there was a demographic of people who are comfortable with pirating, then Vampire Weekends fanbase is smack dab in that demographic..
        but on the other hand “real” fans are more likely to support the artist they love..
        It seems to me from what little evidence is out there, the one that is actually getting “hurt” is Spotify.. :-)

        • GGG

          Right, I just think the amount of people that don’t care enough to buy it but would stream it on Spotify far outnumber the people that would cave and buy it if it’s not on Spotify. Because the fact piracy exists makes withholding from Spotify not that much of an issue. Especially for the indie scene which really does thrive (from a cultural point of view) off of piracy.

    • Svantana

      This comment is way better than the article itself

    • hippydog

      QUOTE: Stu” All I can see being proved here is that a.) hotly-anticipated albums sell well in their first week, and b.) iTunes homepage promotions are still powerful”

  5. Trey

    If I didn’t even use Spotify, I’d probably not even know about Vampire Weekend in the first place. I bought their music because of the service. Daft Punk will be selling 200,000-300,000 copies its first week I read, and that was streamed on iTunes for at least a week or two on iTunes and is on Spotify right now, my purchase of “Random Access Memories” included.

  6. Josh

    Do record labels get off on being withholding?

  7. Chris

    The only assumption you can make from this is that Vampire Weekend didn’t receive any money from streaming.If they can afford to do that in this day then all power to them BUT please don’t try and say they got a number one becuase they weren’t on streaming stores as that simply isn’t true

  8. HGFX

    Given that most bands stuff in what we call “filler” I would NEVER purchase a full album without sampling it on Spotify. I’ve been loking foward to this release for a long time. Now, I couldn’t care less. Must be hiding some serious crap. I’ll wait.

    • hippydog

      QUOTE “I’ve been loking foward to this release for a long time. ”
      Name your top 3 favorite songs from these guys…

  9. princessgleek

    The last Vampire Weekend album was a holdout on spotify as well, I heard it was coming early next week on Rhapsody, not sure if that applies to spotify as well