Why worry about chart placings when  your tours sell-out? - Kevin Buckle

Camera Obscura's new album,  Look To The East, Look To The WestCamera Obscura's new album,  Look To The East, Look To The West
Camera Obscura's new album, Look To The East, Look To The West
​​For those who pay attention to such things there have been a couple of disappointing chart placings for Scottish bands recently when initially things had seemed very promising.

On Tuesday May 7 the official Charts Company tweeted “Scottish indie-pop outfit Camera Obscura (@Camera_Obscura_) are set for their first UK Top 10 album with Look To The East, Look To The West, their first studio release in over 10 years”.

This didn’t particularly surprise me as they have a loyal fan base that would have ordered one of the exclusive versions given to a couple of other shops and those sales would all be registered on day of release, meaning on this occasion it was at number ten.

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The next day the band announced that the album had dropped somewhat so their label Merge Records were offering the album on iTunes for £4.99. What surprised me was that the band or their label cared about the chart placing. The band were in the middle of a sell out tour which is a far better show of their popularity.

On the Friday the album was placed at 36, which is a perfectly respectable result but was viewed by some as disappointing given the high hopes raised earlier in the week.

A week later Assai Records, the small Scottish indie chain tweeted that the new Arab Strap album was number 14 in the midweek chart and were asking fans to show support by buying their exclusive version with a signed Japanese inspired obi strip.

I knew this was doomed to end badly and it was just a matter of how far the album would drop by the end of the week. I should add their label Rock Action had kindly sent us some signed prints and we too had the emoji yellow vinyl, but unfortunately there was a far better offer available from Glasgow record shop Monorail, who had an exclusive signed text bubble blue vinyl and a free flexi disc that would be of far greater appeal to any fan.

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As is shop policy, we didn’t actively promote we had an inferior offer on the album but did have a nice surprise for those who bought it in the shop.

However, I do have to say we only sold a handful of both albums while in our 40 years of supporting both bands we have sold well over 1000 albums by each of them and their earlier albums feature extensively in our all-time Scottish album sales chart.

As such, we haven’t lost the sales to other shops, as before these shops became so active we had already lost the majority of sales to the websites of the labels and their bands. The fan base sales are fairly predictable and all that is happening is the sales are being moved around with no new fans created.

It has been suggested that Avalanche should ask for exclusives but we are happy to rely on who we are and have no wish to steal sales from our good friends with record shops in Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle etc who I know have supported Scottish artists for decades.

The Arab Strap album dropped to 65 with a title that sums things up nicely - ‘I’m totally fine with it don’t give a f*** anymore’.

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