Have Sony put X Factor winner Jackie Thomas on notice part II

Yesterday we were accused of unfairly comparing the debut week single sales of TV talent show winners Jackie Thomas and Ben Lummis.  The suggestion that Ben’s record breaking hit that was certified 4x Platinum practically came from a bygone era is something we don’t buy into.

In the first week after winning New Zealand Idol in 2004, Ben’s They Can’t Take That Away was certified triple platinum.  That’s at least 30,000 units.  For Jackie Thomas, it was at least 5,000.

The following graph shows the actual range of sales for both singles based on how they were certified.  As you can see, they are oceans apart.

ben-lummis-vs-jackie-thomas

The argument is that the record industry has changed and that it is harder to sell music now.  But is that really the case? 

Firstly, let’s not forget that Ben’s single was released in 2004, at a point where the industry was in real trouble.  There were very few legal alternatives for digital downloads and music piracy was near its peak.  The fact that They Can’t Take That Away became the highest selling NZ single of all time is not only impressive, it was a miracle.

If we take the assumption that things are pretty bad in the record business then you’d think it would be safe to assume that if it was pretty difficult to get a gold certified single in 2004, let alone a platinum one, reaching that achievement now must be even harder, right?  Well it appears as though that might not be true at all.

We’ve taken a look at some of the data from 2004 – 2011 to see how many gold and platinum selling singles there have been since then.  Ready for the surprise?

gold-vs-platinum

Key: Blue line – Gold certified / Red line – Platinum certified

So, in 2004, when Ben released his single, there were less than 20 singles certified platinum, let alone 4 times platinum.  Step forward to 2011 and the numbers have in fact skyrocketed by more than 400%!  Based on the trend, it would be difficult to assume that things haven’t moved higher still since then.

While Ben’s single success was an anomaly, especially for 2004, he was lucky enough to ride off the back of a highly rating television show that had enormous chatter.  In 2013, Jackie Thomas has followed a similar path but without the same commercial results at time when it appears more people are actually buying singles.

In 2004, Sony dropped Ben citing low sales.  So again I will ask the question.  Have Sony put Jackie Thomas on notice or is everyone as ecstatic with the numbers as TV3 were with the ratings?

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About the author

Regan is one of the co-founders of Throng Media.
If they're on, I'm usually watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, 24, Battlestar Galactica, The X Factor, Survivor, House of Cards, Mad Men and the NRL.
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  • Citizen Cane

    Just become one of the judges next year then.

    • Regan Cunliffe

      Do you seriously think this is a “judges” problem?

  • Citizen Cane

    Yeah.

  • Aaron

    Singles sales are pretty irrelevant, it’s how well the album sells. Ben spent 7 weeks at #1 with his single and SHIPPED 30,000 copies to stores – doesn’t mean 30,000 were actually sold though, especially if the stacks of copies at The Warehouse for 99 cents are anything to go by.

    His album only spent 7 weeks in the charts and seriously undersold expectations. That would’ve been why he was dropped, the same with Rosita and her 3 week-charting album.

    I think Sony’s current expectations are probably a little more realistic. Exposure on The X Factor hasn’t exactly helped Ruby Frost’s sales. Some of those performing like Joseph & Maia and Aaradhna – even Stan Walker’s latest song – can’t even get a top 20 hit off an X factor performance.

    • Regan Cunliffe

      There were at least 40,000 “shipped” as the single went quadruple platinum. At that level, 99c at the Warehouse is unsurprising.

      His album undersold because the whole thing was rushed and poorly managed. Dropping the artist was the easy thing for lazy team at Sony who took the easy route and didn’t want to take ownership for the screw up to do.

      I doubt screening a pile of steaming horse manure would have improved sales of that either. Ruby had the least X Factor of any of the performances on the series and not having new material to release was really poor form, ill prepared and shows how much of an amateur she is.

      • David

        Yet she came out with a lot of respect from people for her ability to critique well. When she brings out her new material (which would have had to be rushed if she was to bring it out in time for the series) she will have new fans ready to buy it. Interesting how you expect her to rush new music out, but that is the same reason why you say Ben’s album sucked. Sometimes it seems like you just want to be a cranky fool without even thinking your comments through.

        • Citizen Cane

          Hence my judging suggestion, At least the mood of the articles would be more positive (he said optimistically).

          • Regan Cunliffe

            I am happy to seriously offer my services and expertise and am quite prepared to throw my hat in the ring as a consultant if they run another series.

          • Citizen Cane

            Seee told you it was a judging problem. (If I could i’d tweak the end of your nose right now) you rambunctious scamp.

          • Regan Cunliffe

            Except the changes that need to be made go well beyond the judging

          • Citizen Cane

            Baby steps

          • Regan Cunliffe

            The problem is that the judges are the last line of defence. The bigger issues, if dealt with higher up, will filter down

          • Reganisadork

            Lord save us all

          • Regan Cunliffe

            Are you suggesting that every piece of advice I provided this season was bad?

          • David

            I actually think you would have good ideas – you have the experience. You should see if they will hire you to be a consultant. Try to get them to be able to sing the songs they want to sing! Would they listen though? It sounds like they follow that x factor bible to the tee.

          • Regan Cunliffe

            it’s not necessarily the song choices that were the problem. Even bad song choices can be made to work.

            Talent show bibles are valuable tools. So is the instruction manual for my chainsaw. Giving it to my five year old won’t necessarily help him understand the power of what it is capable of doing however.

        • Regan Cunliffe

          Ruby Frost was announced as a judge on The X Factor back in January. We can safely assume that the decision wasn’t made overnight so there have been at least six months between when she knew she was going to be on the show and now and quite possibly more. Planning for that is not rushing it.

          Ruby’s debut album was released on the 8th of June 2012, now over a year ago. The single she performed on the show was an old one and didn’t even hit the top 40. In fact, two of her other songs sold more units the following week. Based on that, I doubt very much that the fans that you speak of actually exist.

          Only a fool goes on a TV series without any plan to capitalise on it. You only had to watch Daniel Bedingfield’s shameless self promotion to see he was making the most of it. What did Ruby do? Nothing. No tour. No new material.

          The only cranky fool who hasn’t thought through their comments is yourself, thank you very much.

  • David

    How easy was it to get songs off youtube or other means back in 2004? I can’t remember if youtube was as huge a thing back then or not. If I wanted Jackie’s single, I could get it onto my computer from youtube in about 30 seconds. Maybe the ability to NOT buy it is hampering sales? Compared to Ben Lummis. Or, maybe it is just a crap song.

    • Jeseta

      Youtube was launched in 2005 but there were still methods to illegally download music on the net, for those who knew how and desired to, which is probably a smaller group than it is now.

      Having said that I think we have to be realistic about what Sony expects from Jackie. If they weren’t happy with triple platinum from Lummis are they really going to be any happier with Gold from Jackie? Even 10 years later? The real problem is they rush album production and have very weak material for the artist to record. Jackie has a lovely voice but she won’t succeed and that’s not her fault, it’s Sony’s.

      • David

        I think it will come down to her album sales. The sales of the top three’s singles will be an interesting comparison. Perhaps Jackie won because of a few people voting heaps (yet only buying her single once).

        • Jeseta

          I think that’s a definite possibility. In the lead up to the final there really appeared to be more people backing Benny, on twitter, online etc. His single has also taken number one on iTunes this week (I acknowledge it was the 2nd week of Jackie’s sales so hers were likely to be lower). I think it could be that Jackie (and possibly Whenua) were receiving multiple votes from passionate supporters. Unfortunately this doesn’t translate to $$ spent on albums.

          • Trevor Ashman

            I only voted for Jackie once per week 🙂

          • Jeseta

            Your wishes were so strong they manifested into votes Trevor.

          • Trevor Ashman

            YAY …..it worked 🙂

      • Dave Ian Batten

        That’s a good point. What these types of shows intend to do, is make new artists. But the labels head isn’t there. That’s the real problem.

  • Trevor Ashman

    I don’t understand the stupid comparison, Jackie isn’t under any threat…..why do you hate Jackie so much? 🙁

    • Regan Cunliffe

      I don’t hate her. She just doesn’t have the X Factor. Something that the show was supposed to uncover.

      • K

        Each to their own i guess, I think out of what talent was on the show she was closest if not the X Factor

        • Trevor Ashman

          So true 🙂

      • Trevor Ashman

        Actually in your opinion what is X Factor? in my opinion of X Factor, Jackie has X Factor galore

        • Regan Cunliffe

          The X Factor is more than just a good voice. It is walking into a room and having all eyes on you. There is a presence about people who have it that is different. They those who have it hold themselves, speak and act is in an entirely different league of confidence than those who don’t.

          • Trevor Ashman

            Have you seen interviews by Jackie since she won X Factor NZ? she comes across VERY well which I regard as having X Factor 🙂

          • Robyn Gallagher

            On any given night, there are dozens of people on One News or 3 News who come across well in interviews. That doesn’t mean they have the X Factor. Not everyone talks like a monosyllabic rugby player.

  • Tim

    TL:DR We are spreading negativity again.

  • Trevor Ashman

    I love the cover of Jackie’s first hit album 🙂

    • Jeseta

      We know you do Trevor….

      • Trevor Ashman

        That’s good to know 🙂

        • Jeseta

          You aren’t disappointed they put cheap nasty hair extensions in her angelic locks?

          • Trevor Ashman

            I don’t see any hair extensions on the album cover 🙂

          • Jeseta

            Her natural hair is a really healthy, shiny, almost-black. At the very bottom you can see lighter brown, dry, split curls. They didn’t do her beauty justice Trevor!

  • boxtv

    Ben Lummis tanked because his second single was crap to a degree even C4 didn’t place it on their rotation at the time. The single did really badly and subsequently the album. Rosita and Matt fared a lot worse as even with their number 1 debut, it didn’t stabilize in sales. Then again, NZ music talent shows have a history of doing poorly after their first single because people just don’t care about them when the show ends.

    I think Jackie is off to a decent start, being already certified Gold, which according to RIANZ website, is 7500 sales. If she wasn’t certified, let alone not chart in the Top 5, then it would have been concerning. I suppose we will have to wait and see how she does in coming weeks and eventually her album sales. I’m surprised that TV3 didn’t air 2012 season of Australian X Factor, before the local edition. Considering how Reese Mastin, the 2011 XFAU winner, did well enough here in the singles chart after his “victory” song. Reese Mastin is still doing good in Australia.

  • Robyn Gallagher

    The latest iTunes chart shows Benny still at 1, Jackie at 3 and Whenua way down at 7. I think we can safely assume that Whenua won’t be hitting the top spot with “Something Special”, but will Benny bump Jackie off there when the next chart comes out?

    • Trevor Ashman

      Jackie will still be number 1 🙂

      • Robyn Gallagher

        Jackie will always be number one in your heart, etc.

    • Jeseta

      I’m not sure how I feel about Benny’s contract option being picked up by Sony. Is he going to be able to release his own music? With the release of his pre-recorded ‘winner’s single’ and the artwork for it (I can’t believe all three are identical, such a lack of creativity) It looks like they are just putting all three finalists on the exact same path. I really hope all his songs will be originals after this first one.

  • cherrish_me

    alot of people download these days,

  • Dave Ian Batten

    Nobody buys cd’s anymore, they download the mp3 version.

  • Trevor Ashman

    As Jackie is still number 1 I guess the notice has been ripped up 🙂

  • Trevor Ashman

    Jackie’s album is number 1 on iTunes already ….mine is on it’s way from Mighty Ape 🙂