The Web's most intriguing music-related destinations. This week: Sarah McLachlan and Mantra Girl.
THE RISE OF 'FALLEN': After a lengthy absence, Sarah McLachlan is back and making a strong impact on the Web. Two different versions of the Canadian crooner's new single "Fallen," her first new release in more than four years, debuted at No. 1 and No. 4 on Billboard's Hot Digital Tracks chart last week. The album mix came in with 2,500 paid downloads, the largest one-week tally in the chart's three-month history.
Both versions of "Fallen" were added to Apple's iTunes Music Store Sept. 16 as 30-day exclusives, and a spokesperson for the store says they have both been consistently in the list of its top-10 individual track downloads in the three weeks since. At press time, both were in the top-5 (the service's charts are updated continuously).
Combined, the two versions -- the album and radio mixes -- of "Fallen" accounted for more than 4,000 paid downloads last week, a number which -- if translated into traditional retail sales -- would equate to a No. 7 position on the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart. Elvis Presley's "Rubberneckin'" claimed the top spot on that chart last week with 6,500 units sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
That a paid digital download is selling in comparable volume to traditional retail single sales should be seen as a harbinger of the changing face of digital music, and a good sign for a beleaguered industry which is finally gaining a foothold in a market long dominated by peer-to-peer trading services.
"I think it's phenomenal," says Zeeshan Zaidi, senior director of new media at McLachlan's label Arista. "It just says that as a singles medium, digital distribution has very quickly gotten to the point where it's a serious format.
"We were confident that the song would do really well," he continued, "because it's been a while since Sarah put out an album, and her fan base is so strong that there are a lot of people waiting for this music."
To further capitalize on this success, Zaidi said that Arista is planning to release more digital McLachlan music later this month. A five-song set, "Acoustic Live EP 2003," will be released Oct. 21 as a 30-day exclusive at the iTunes Music Store.
REPEAT AFTER ME: Los Angeles-based electronic trio Mantra Girl -- singer/composer Erin Kamler, producer/composer Adam Smalley and instrumentalist Dan Powell -- has launched an online campaign to raise awareness and funds for six human-rights organizations.
Dubbed "99 Cents for Peace," the initiative involves six songs from Mantra Girl's new CD, "Truth" (Adamas Records). Each is donated to a different organization, which will then offer, via mass E-mail alerts, the opportunity to download a Mantra Girl track for 99 cents. One-tenth of the proceeds from each song will be donated to the respective group.
Organizations who have signed on for the initiative include Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Team Survivor, Next Aid and Yoga on the Inside.
The band's songs are based on ancient Sanskrit-derived mantras, set to dance rhythms and orchestral arrangements. The New York Philharmonic added its talents to "Truth," the title track of which is donated to Next Aid. The band chose each song specifically to correspond with the spirit of each organization's mission. For instance, it donated the liberation-themed "Gobinday" to ANSA and "Adi Shakti," which honors female energy, to the Human Rights Watch.
For more information about the "99 Cents for Peace" project, visit Mantra Girl's official Web site.