One of the most asked questions we get when writing our column Metal By Numbers is why we didn’t include so and so band’s first week sales. Well, most of the time it’s because we only get to see the top 200 and top new artist charts, and an artist’s album may be left off those charts if they sell below a certain number of copies. Thus, that’s why Anthrax’s recent Icon compilation was didn’t make it in to this week’s column.
So how badly did the greatest hits album, which is part of UMe’s ‘Icon’ compilation series, actually do? Well according to Blabbermouth (via Nielsen SoundScan), the Anthrax Icon album only sold 64 copies in its first week. No, you did not misread, ONLY 64. We’ll give you a second to let that settle in…….Ready?
So the first question to pop into your head should be “How the hell did it sell so little?!” Considering that 2011 has been a big comeback year for them, with the Big 4 shows and the release of Worship Music, it would be understandable to ask such a question. However, there’s a few things to take into consideration, such as:
1. While it has Anthrax’s name on it, this isn’t really an Anthrax release. Remember, Anthrax are no longer signed to Island Records (who is owned by UMe). So while UMe still has the right to release material Anthrax recorded during their Island years, Anthrax don’t have any obligation to promote it. And since Anthrax’s focus is obviously on touring in support of Worship Music (rightfully so), then why would they want to support a compilation album they likely had no input on?
2. And speaking of promotions, UMe didn’t really do anything to promote the compilation either. Sure, they’ve done a few press releases, but nothing that was constantly in your face. And understandably so, since they pretty much release compilations for a crap load of artists in bulk. The point of the Icon series, from what we can tell, is more about providing listeners with a cheap compilation album to whet their interest in the band. But
3. Arguably the bigger reason, though, for the low sales is because to be frank, there’s really only one reason for another Anthrax hits package (they’ve released six total worldwide). As the actual number of physical record stores continue to decrease, the Targets and Best Buys of the world aren’t in the business of curating music. That means they probably don’t have any Anthrax albums aside from Worship Music. The ‘Icon’ series serve as a cheap and easy way to get some of the bands’ work in stores. They don’t really need to spend money marketing them, since anyone more than a casual fan has most or all of the songs on the compilations. A cash-in from a corporation trying to take advantage of casual consumers? Perhaps, but you can’t really blame them for trying.
That being said, 64 copies is still a comically low number. We’re not exactly sure how this matches up with other releases in the Icon series, but this is not a strong first week in any cases. Luckily for Anthrax, though, not only do most fans love their new music, but it also sold very well in its first week.