Sunday, May 21, 2006

Can The Dixie Chicks Really Sell Ten Million Copies? IMHO: Not THIS Way

Today's New York Times reviews the new LP and talked to the Chicks about their aspirations for it:

On previous albums the Dixie Chicks wrote the more lighthearted songs and got serious material from other songwriters. This time, Ms. Maines said, "We knew we had things to write about." (They) brought in co-writers including Gary Louris, from the Jayhawks, and Dan Wilson, from Semisonic. "They took the fear out of us," said Ms. Maines. "You know, 'You need to say that because that's the truth and that's the way you feel.' "

(The Incident) keeps peeking through the pretty arrangements. The countryish mandolin and pedal steel guitar of "Everybody Knows" carry the confession: "All the things I can't erase from my life/Everybody knows." An affectionate ballad, "Easy Silence," praises a companion who provides a refuge when "Anger plays on every station/Answers only make more questions." In the fiddle-topped waltz "Bitter End," one verse mocks fair-weather supporters: "As long as I'm the shiniest star,/Oh there you are."

The album's finale, a gospel-soul anthem called "I Hope," insists, "I don't wanna hear nothin' else/About killin' and that it's God's will."

Three years after "the Incident" the Dixie Chicks insist that it liberated them. "When, no matter what you do, everybody's going to punch holes in it, then you just go and you do what you want," Ms. Maguire said. "And that's the most freeing place to be. It will mean a lot to me if people buy the album just sort of out of protest. The naysayers and the people who were so organized to take us down did a really good job. And they succeeded. So it feels good to let the music win out in the end and say, 'Even your hatred can't stop what people want to listen to.' A smiling Ms. Maguire had the last word. "See you at the
diamond record party," she said.

And, I guess they plan to achieve that by testing their fans' loyalty, offending as many country radio listeners as possible. For example, their press interviews/reports just today...

* Fox News:
Dixie Chicks' Maines Says US President Owed 'No Respect'
* CNN: Dixie Chicks in the line of fire
* KUSA-TV, Denver: Dixie Chicks' singer now says..

...which seems like a rather bizarre marketing plan to me, but then I guess I'm in business not politics. I had been hoping their new music would be about popularity not polarity. Hopefully, they are sanguine with whatever occurs, because I fear they've been getting some questionable advice if the goal really is to sell 10 million units of this project. I think it's going to have a hard time finding a home on any radio format with the kind of reach they would need to go gold or platinum, more realistically-attainable goals.

If they manage to sell even HALF that many without country radio's wind at their backs, it would be a most impressive accomplishment. Non-traditional, personalized music marketing is the future, but my guess in the spring of 2006: myspace (yes, I do have them on my page and consider myself a friend of the Dixie Chicks, which is why it pains me to say these things), aol, itunes, msn, goggle, yahoo, nabster and all of them combined aren't yet at the tipping point to sell 10 million.

If I'm wrong, I am going to learn something.

Here's hoping
Natalie, Martie and Emily feel that way too.

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