Knowledge Bank

news category created 5 April 2014 written by shona wright

What’s a “hit” record these days?

Music sales charts don’t seem to mean much these days – how do we know whether or not a record is a “hit”? The number of Twitter “mentions”? Facebook “likes”?


Hi Mick,

Good question. It’s a debate I frequently get into to cut through the smoke and mirror’s of today’s saturation/viral marketing. Most people are unaware that there is a position in 2014 at most major record labels of head of/director of viral marketing. Some of these positions are at vice-president level. Most labels will call anything that charts, a “Hit”. The word “Hit”, like the word “Legend”, is vastly overused in 2014, almost comically.

“Viva La Vida” by Coldplay, was a hit. “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele was a hit. These songs were ubiquitous in all media. You heard them everywhere. Radio, TV, shopping, at a restaurant, walking down the street.

More importantly they drove record breaking massive live gate for Coldplay, and will as well for Adele when she goes out. These were hits like The Beatles had hits. They drove the sales of albums into the tens of millions. Songs like these while certainly at the top of the pyramid, are the bellwether of a true hit.

Does this mean someone can’t have a hit unless it reaches those heights? Of course not but it keeps things in perspective.
A throw-away pop act can have a “Hit” that is everywhere for a month or two and does none of this (Drive live gate/Album sales).

Social media hits can be false-positively manipulated at an institutional level, so I don’t think that plays into a sustainable career level act. I can’t remember a word from any Justin Bieber “Hit” song, but I can remember Adele’s. Bieber has more social media followers than Adele…..My money’s on Adele!

The charts for the most part are irrelevant to a lasting sustainable career. Not long ago the fewest number of sales ever to get an album to go in at #1 happened. I think it was less than 50 thousand.

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