New Arcade Fire Album Gets A Grand Opening
On the menu was a wild mushroom risotto with white truffle oil and a mixed grill of New Zealand lamb chops and beef tenderloin -- yes, the record release party thrown by Good Records in Dallas for theOn the menu was a wild mushroom risotto with white truffle oil and a mixed grill of New Zealand lamb chops and beef tenderloin -- yes, the record release party thrown by Good Records in Dallas for the Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible" was a bit more sophisticated than the typical midnight-sale fare.
At an event held in partnership with local restaurant Urbano Paninoteca, about 50 diners sampled albums that came out on the indie-heavy release date of March 6 (Air, !!!, RJD2 and Gruff Rhys, among others).
"Neon Bible" landed at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 after moving 92,000 first-week units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The band's 2004 debut, "Funeral," has sold more than 327,000 copies in the States.
"Neon Bible" was the largest release in the 17-year history of the band's label, Chapel Hill, N.C.-based Merge Records. Head of sales Paul Cardillo puts the initial ship-out at about 220,000 units, and says the label booked retail programs beyond anything it had done in the past.
"Neon Bible" was in the Sunday circulars for Best Buy, Circuit City and Target. "To compete with a release like a Norah Jones, and I hate to put it that way because we've never operated like that before, people need to see it," he says. "We did a program where there's a poster in every Borders store. Just keeping the visibility enough is much more important on a record like this. On our smaller releases, I feel it's more important for people to hear it."
Merge's marketing/publicity guru Martin Hall says the label typically budgets for its releases to sell somewhere between 15,000 and 50,000 units, and this time was working on an initial budget to sell 300,000. But Arcade Fire didn't finish the album until late December, pushing many marketing plans by the wayside. For instance, so far no video has been shot.
"They wanted to do some short films that they would distribute to their Web site in lieu of doing the traditional video," Hall says, "but that may not happen till April now." Sniping at bus stops in major cities was considered, but it was decided such a tactic wouldn't sit well with the heavily-DIY band. (Arcade Fire licenses its albums to Merge and pays for the recordings itself.)
The band also nixed some new-media initiatives. "We explored some digital phone stuff, but they're not into ringtones," Merge label manager Spott Philpott says. "It makes it hard to find something innovative that they're interested in, but that's what makes them who they are."