James Murphy is recalling a marketing meeting with executives from Capitol Records. The man behind the dance-punk of LCD Soundsystem — and one of the founders of New York’s DFA Records — was discussing tactics to boost the first-week sales numbers for his upcoming album. Murphy wasn’t sold on what he was hearing.
LCD Soundsystem will release “Sound of Silver” March 20 via DFA/Capitol, and some of the ideas bandied about included a limited-edition print with bonus tracks, or perhaps a DVD to accompany early pressings of the new album. But Murphy offered a simpler, more cost-effective solution: Why not just ask fans to buy it?
“They all laughed at me and said I was retarded,” Murphy says.
But Capitol soon took to the idea. “He did mention that, and I do think it’s a great idea,” Capitol product manager Reed Seerman says.
Murphy took his goal to DFA’s online message boards, pleading with fans to come out in the first week of the album’s release. Outlets from NME to Pitchfork picked up on the request, which Murphy describes as a “sociological experiment.”
“We are literally just asking people point blank to buy my record because I want a good chart position,” Murphy says. “It’s refreshing to me.”
Murphy is aware that his chart goals won’t be easily reached. LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled 2005 debut has sold 62,000 units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. A top 40 debut for “Sound of Silver” will likely require at least a five-digit first-week sales number.
“Doing this social-experiment stuff doesn’t seem like it would help Capitol,” Murphy says. “But it does. Posting that thing about us trying to be No. 1 seems like a disastrous idea, but it wound up generating press.”
The one-on-one dialogue with fans has re-energized Murphy. He says he was “devastated” when “Sound of Silver” was leaked to the Internet in late 2006. “I hadn’t even given the record to the band members or my family,” Murphy says.
“Sound of Silver” features plenty of the playful production of the act’s self-titled effort, but adds some political irony with the guitar-driven “North American Scum,” and also sees Murphy delving into lighter, more ambient territory (“All My Friends”).
If there are fewer overt dance songs on the album, Murphy says there’s plenty forthcoming. He put aside numerous dance-heavy tracks while recording, and he’ll keep promoting “Sound of Silver” by releasing dance 12-inches during the next few months.
“We’re a pop band,” Murphy says. “I’m totally comfortable with that, but I make dance music. One of the things that irked me about the last record was that as the singles came out, there wasn’t new dance music from me on those 12-inches. It was the old song from the album, and a remix of that song from somebody else.”