Sebastian Bach Raises the Question: “How Many of an Artist’s Facebook Followers Will Buy That Artist’s Album?”
Sebastian Bach was recently interviewed on the radio by a fourteen-year-old kid, and he had this to say about the first week sales of his excellent new album, Give ‘Em Hell (transcription courtesy of Blabbermouth):
“I have over 800,000 people that like my Facebook page, that read every word I write on my Facebook page — over 800,000 — and yesterday, it said… You know how it has next to the amount of people on the page, it says how many people are talking about the page? 75,000 or 80,000 people are talking about it. I would like to thank the 5,000 out of the 800,000 that got my record, and I would like to ask the other 795,000 people, ‘Why are you on my page? Are you there to look at the pictures? Is that why you’re there? ‘Cause that’s simple. If that’s what you want, I’ll put some pictures up, or whatever.’ But I have no clue, when it says 800,000 people and 70,000 people today are talking about this, what are you talking about? What? Like, what are you talking about? [Laughs] I don’t get it. Like, what? What? What? ‘Oh, he’s got a new record out. I’ve loved him for years. I’m not gonna buy that.’ [Laughs] I don’t get it. I don’t understand. I don’t get it. I don’t know why you’re on my page. Like, for what? Why? What? [Laughs] I totally don’t get it.”
The answer to Baz’s question — “Why didn’t everyone who likes Sebastian Bach on Facebook but didn’t buy his new album?” — seems like an incredibly simple one, right? It’s all about the Benjamins! It’s free to like someone’s page (which, it’s worth pointing out, does not mean they “read every word” he writes on the page — hell, they may never even be aware of every word he writes on the page). And it’s definitely free to talk about someone and tag someone in a social network post. I’m not saying a strong social network presence isn’t important, because it most certainly is… I’m just saying, you can’t assume a large percentage of your social network followers will fork over ten bucks for something they can get for much cheaper (without even breaking the law, thanks to services like Spotify and Google Play).
But here’s where Baz actually has some right to be confused… he actually did sell to fewer of his social network followers than many other artists do. As Blabbermouth points out, the first week sales for Give ‘Em Hell (4,000 copies) amounts to about .05% of Bach’s Facebook followers. By contrast, the most recent releases from bands such as Black Label Society (25,625 sold/1,670,102 FB likes), Sevendust (15,000 sold/1,042,424 FB likes), Emmure (6,500 sold/596,515 FB likes), and Delain (1,850 sold/163,000 FB likes) all sold amounts equaling between 1-1.5% of their Facebook following.
Meanwhile, Baz’s Frontiers Records label mates, Winger, also only hit the .05% mark (3,600 sold/72,628 FB likes). And even though Baz and Zakk Wylde are roughly the same age (46 and 47, respectively) and broke into the music business around the same time (Ozzy’s No Rest for the Wicked came out in 1988, Skid Row’s self-titled debut came out a year later), Wylde isn’t as widely-associated with the ’80s hair metal scene as Bach and Winger are, and thanks to his spot in Ozzy’s band and BLS’ constant presence on Ozzfest, he managed to remain in the spotlight long after most of the world forgot about “I Remember You.” It stands to reason that a portion of his fanbase may be substantially younger than that of Sebastian Bach, and that younger people more frequently make purchases based on things they see on Facebook than older people do.
Then again: Aborted’s new album, Necrotic Manifesto, sold 320 copies in its first week of release, and that band has 327,518 Facebook likes, which means only about .009% of their followers bought the album… and, in theory at least, their fans should be much younger than those of BLS or Bach or Winger. So maybe some bands are just better at utilizing their social networks than others.