Decca

All posts tagged Decca

With two weeks left until Alfie Boe’s new album, Serenata, is released, I thought it would be a good time to look at how record labels choose when to release an album. This is particularly pertinent for Alfie Boe fans as we all got very excited when Amazon and iTunes listed Serenata as being released a week earlier than the original date, 17th November.  Unfortunately, that was a false start as a few weeks later, the album was back to it’s original release date.  Officially, there is no reason for this; it’s just the way things turned out.

Of course, when I started looking into the subject, it turned out to be a lot more complicated than you might think – as does pretty much everything!  Record labels exist to sell records, pure and simple and so attaining a good chart position and decent sales are the be all and end all of making an album.  Excellent quality records are great but if they don’t sell enough to pay the bills they aren’t going to keep the artist on the Christmas card list.

Looking at Alfie’s previous albums with Decca, this will be the fourth to be released in the run up to Christmas (Bring Him Home was released just after Christmas) and they have all sold well in that time frame, so a good decision to go for that again.  All have achieved top ten status in the official album charts in the first week and have continued to sell well.  Amazon currently lists all Alfie’s Decca albums in their top 100 album bestsellers.

Social media and fan forums have seen a fair amount of concern that Serenata is due to be released on the same day as albums by Katherine Jenkins and Michael Ball.  Although most of Katherine’s previous albums have hit number 1 on the classical charts, they have not had the same degree of success on the official “normal” charts, although they have usually achieved top ten status.  Michael’s first album hit number 1 on the official chart and since then, he has consistently achieved the top twenty.  At first glance they might be seen to be playing to the same audience but a look at the numbers doesn’t necessarily bear that out.

Alfie’s Decca albums, all released in similar time frames to Katherine and Michael, have all achieved top ten status and with his much anticipated and talked about return to a more classical style, there is no reason to think that this year’s sales should be any different.  In fact, it could be said that releasing Serenata on the same day as Katherine’s  Home Sweet Home will work to Alfie’s advantage as he is guesting on that album – let’s face it, once everyone listens to Barcelona on Home Sweet Home they will instantly want to hear more and buy Serenata as well!

On the same topic, in 2013 there were murmurs of disgruntlement from Alfie fans when Trust was released on the same day as Gary Barlow’s album.  Trust still achieved the top ten in that first week so it didn’t seem to hurt and, much as it may hurt to admit, Gary Barlow has a much bigger fan base than Alfie and appeals to a much wider audience.  In reality, releasing on the same day as a mega artist like Barlow really makes little or no difference to Alfie’s sales.

As fans, if we want to boost #AlfieBoeSerenata in the run up to the album release and the #AlfieBoeUKTour the way to do it is to shout about it as much as we can on our social media platform of choice – use the hashtags in everything you tweet about Alfie and retweet everything else you see.  If possible, get Alfie to retweet as well (alright, I know I’m asking a lot here, but it’s not impossible!) and let’s get him trending.

Bombard your local radio stations, as well as ClassicFM, BBC Radio 2 and any other stations you can think of, to play Alfie – don’t forget the hashtag #AlfieBoeSerenata!  A huge number of people listen to their local radio station each week which is why Alfie does a lot of promo appearances and linked interviews with them.

Hope you enjoyed finding out a bit about why record labels choose to release albums when they do – if you did, just let me know in the comments box and please share!

In anticipation, let’s take a look at Volare:

 

Serenata can be pre-ordered below:

serenata

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On the face of it, it’s a wonder that Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins haven’t collaborated more.  Both are from distinctly non traditional classical backgrounds, he from Fleetwood, Lancashire and she from Neath, South Wales.  They even both won scholarships to distinguished music colleges (Royal College of Music and Royal Academy of Music, respectively) although their route to these life changing opportunities were markedly different.  However, it is their choices taken after graduating that may indicate the reason as to why their forthcoming duet on Katherine’s new album is only their second collaboration (they previously performed together at a John Barry tribute in 2011).

After graduating, Alfie began performing in opera houses around the world, taking the more traditional route of trained opera singers, whilst Katherine signed the biggest recording deal in classical music (at the time) at the age of 23.  Hit album after hit album for her label, Decca, followed and although she was often asked about venturing onto the stage in an operatic role, that has never really been part of the plan.

Katherine Jenkins was born in 1980 and began singing as a child, appearing in the Choirgirl of the Year competition and the BBC radio 2 Welsh Choirgirl of the Year (winning twice).  She was also a member of the Royal School of Church Music Cathedral Singers and the National Youth Choir of Wakes.  A performance at a mass honouring the Pope’s silver jubilee at Westminster Cathedral followed her graduation from the Royal Academy of Music and she also supported Aled Jones on tour, before performing at the Sydney Opera House as a special guest of Max Boyce.  Since then, in between releasing her albums, and appearing on Dancing with the Stars on US TV (she came second) she has also been the Forces Sweetheart, only last month appearing at the D Day 70th anniversary commemorations at the Royal Albert Hall.  As I write this, I’m struck by the thought that maybe this early career trajectory is also in the minds of those masterminding soprano Laura Wright’s career.  Laura is also signed to Decca, has a couple of hit albums to her name and also appeared at those D Day commemorations, albeit in France in the morning and not at the Royal Albert Hall in the evening.

Katherine is now back with the label that started it all, Decca, after an ill-fated detour with Warner Bros.  I’m guessing the title of her new album, 10 years after her first signing, Home Sweet Home, is about more than just returning to a more traditional classical repertoire.

Perhaps we will see more of Katherine and Alfie together in the future, given that they have duetted on Barcelona.  Certainly, their PR machines seem to be working in accordance; tracks from both albums were played by John Suchet on his ClassicFM radio show recently, both have CD and calendar bundles available from Decca and both albums are due for release on the same day, 17th November.  Click here to pre-order Alfie Boe’s Serenata and Katherine Jenkins’ Home Sweet Home.

Let’s take another look at Barcelona, from the Edinburgh Castle concert last weekend:

for more info about Katherine, click here for her website:

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Earlier in the year, Alfie Boe fans were thrilled to discover that he was recording a song for a Decca label mate’s next album.  Speculation was rife as to the artist in question and the song they would sing together…now I’m happy to say that I was right and Alfie will be appearing on Katherine Jenkins’ new album, Home Sweet Home.  The  song is Barcelona, so memorably performed with Laura Wright at the Freddie for a Day evening last year.  This version made the top 5 f the recent Alfie Boe’s Best Ever Duet poll so no pressure for this version then!

Click on the album cover below to order through the thoughtsofjustafan Amazon store:

katherine jenkins

 

Alfie fans were spoilt when the album was released as it was released on the same day  Serenata.  Serenata is also available for to buy, so if you haven’t yet done so, click on the album cover below:

 

Great to see Alfie duetting with Katherine on her new album, they have sung together before, although this will be with first time on an album.  The previous occasion was at the Classic Brits in 2011 when they teamed up for a John Barry tribute and again at Edinburgh Castle in advance of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (just don’t ask Alfie what Commonwealth sports he likes!):

 

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For Alfie Boe fans, this is a hot topic at the moment; Alfie and his management company, Brilliant! have gone their separate ways and we are waiting to find out who the new manager will be.  Although Alfie and Neil (Ferris) have had a great working relationship for the past eight years and we will be sad to see him go, it will be interesting to see what the new management does.

In a recent blog, I asked you for your questions for the new manager and the areas of concern seem largely to be based on fans location: US fans would generally like to know more about promotional opportunities there while fans elsewhere have a wider range of questions.  Watch this space for a more detailed analysis.

In the meantime, this seems a perfect opportunity to ask what a music manager actually does.

So, the role of a music manager is basically to bring together the people and projects which meet the goals of the artist and their record company. That could be anything from generating a top 10 hit or booking gigs. In whatever you do, you need to be organised, have excellent people skills and a good understanding of the modern music industry as you have to co-ordinate all aspects of the project, work with individuals and organisations such as event promoters, publicity agents and talent-booking agencies – as well as the artists and record labels you represent.  The manager is responsible for ensuring that the various projects run smoothly and deadlines are met.  At all times, the end target and goals must be kept in mind as each individual party will only be worried about their allotted task.  The manager will have to bring all the loose threads together in order to make sure the artist’s needs are met.

If the artist is signed to a record label, the manager needs to keep in mind what the label wants to achieve for the musician. In order to achieve success, the manager needs to have a thorough understanding of the field that the artist represents.  When Neil first became Alfie’s manager, he didn’t know much about opera (the field in which Alfie was then working) and he and Alfie embarked on a quick learning curve.  However, Neil had worked in the music industry for a long time, has great contacts and was thoroughly conversant with the way record labels work.  Having said that, there were still huge struggles to get Alfie signed to a record label after his EMI contract fell through.  It took the phenomenal success of the Les Mis 25th anniversary concert to get Alfie noticed and signed by Decca.

Just in case you were wondering, I did ask Neil for an interview about this very subject but he declined (whilst sending his thanks for all the good wishes sent his way).  Hope this sheds some light on the role of a music manager and look out for your questions for the new manager…”soon”.