While the majors persist with their “smash hit” model, where anything less than platinum equates to failure, niche indies like blues label Blind Pig make a living from modest sales:
- Michael Jackson’s last album “Invincible” sold 2 million copies but was considered a commercial flop by Sony.
So where does that leave a disc on the Blind Pig label that sells a paltry 60,000?
To label co-owner Ed Chmelewski, there is no question. Those numbers make it a smash hit in the world of the blues — the “devil’s music” that devotees describe as something that can have a man simultaneously fixin’ to die, get wasted or laid.
“If the big boys had a record that sold 60,000, there would be people jumping out of windows,” said Chmelewski. “It would be a dismal failure. If we sold 2 million, I would be looking to retire.”
The difference is that Sony and the other big labels are trawling for success in the fickle, overcrowded pop market, at the mercy of fads that make them shell out millions on top of recording costs to promote the next hot thing.
In contrast, Blind Pig, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, preaches to the converted. The label’s birthday disc, a compilation of some of its best recordings since 1977, has already sold more than 60,000 copies.
The 25th anniversary collection is a tremendous sampling of blues styles over the last quarter century. I also love the tough, rocking electric guitar blues of the new Magic Slim release, which we recently featured on Cool Tunes.