Indie act upstreamed from RED to Columbia.
As indie releases get fewer and farther between from now until January, one that has shown remarkable tenacity during this early holiday season is the third effort from gentle rock act Copeland, "Eat, Sleep, Repeat." The album arrived at No. 90 on The Billboard 200 in its first week, with sales topping 11,000 units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
It is the band's highest chart position and on par with its top sales week. In two weeks, the album has sold 16,000 units. The total impressed Columbia Records, which announced Nov. 14 that the band had been signed to the major.
The Militia Group sales manager Wyatt Miller says "Eat, Sleep, Repeat" received the label's largest-ever ship-out at 70,000 units. The label spent about $120,000 at retail alone for the album, which is a charmingly melodic mix of electronic atmospheres and pop hooks.
"We focused a lot on not getting the most pure tone out of instruments," singer Aaron Marsh says of the group's finest and final album for the Militia Group. "We focused a lot more on the sounds that the instrument makes that you may not think about, like the sounds of fingernails on piano keys or the motor on a vibraphone."
It's an adventurous album from a label that has been steadily branching out since achieving mainstream success with pop-punk acts like Rufio and Cartel. The Militia Group is also home to Luscious Jackson's Jill Cunniff and just-signed Parisian pop act Tahiti 80.
But had the Militia Group waited until January to release "Eat, Sleep, Repeat," the risk of it being lost in the fourth-quarter shuffle would have been minimized, and it could have avoided year-end hikes in co-op prices.
"Everything is so expensive right now," Miller says. "It was a little risky for us, but we wanted it out. We're trying to be a player, and sometimes you have to take chances."
Miller and label founder Chad Pearson also admit that the Southern California label was in need of some fourth-quarter billing and was happy to oblige the band's request to get the record out.
Pearson knew there was a good chance the album may soon be taken off the Militia Group's hands, as the label, whose releases are handled by Sony BMG's RED Distribution, has an upstreaming deal with the major. Cartel moved on to Epic once the Militia Group had gotten the act to about 45,000 units. With Copeland's 2005 album "In Motion" having sold 80,000, Pearson wonders why it took so long for a major to jump at the band.
"It's been one of those things that dumbfounded me," he says.