WINNER OF THE WEEK: All year Rihanna, whose last couple of tours were not exactly massive universal sellouts, has been steadily parsing out great singles from her underrated 2010 album – including "S&M," which sold more than 2.7 million copies by mid-year, "Cheers (Drink to That)" and, this past week, "We Found Love," which just hit Number One on iTunes and Number Six on both Billboard's Hot 100 and BigChampagne's Ultimate Chart. If you have amazing singles, why not use them?
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Adele. But, you ask, how can we label the year's biggest pop star – who just returned to Number One for the 13th week this year, who has sold more than 4 million albums when Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne have struggled to sell half that – a "loser"? It's because Adele is suffering and we're mean. These days, in the music business, it's not enough to sell albums. Notice Gaga and Taylor Swift taking any breaks from the road lately? Yet Adele has had to cancel two concert tours this year due to vocal problems. At one point, she writes on a blog post, "my voice suddenly switched off like a light!" Top voice doctors assure us that, based on what they read about Adele's condition, it's extremely treatable, and concert-business sources assure us she'll be headlining arenas in no time. But it's worrisome when the biggest reason for music-business optimism in years has a pre-existing condition that directly affects ticket sales. For the sake of her fans, the people she works with and the future of the music business, we wish Adele good health. Oh, and this week, she sold another 106,000 copies while "Someone Like You" remained at Number One on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart.
DIY IS EASIER WHEN YOU'RE ALSO THE LEAD SINGER OF TOOL: Maynard James Keenan, frontman for Tool and A Perfect Circle, just put out his other band Puscifer's Conditions of My Parole in purely independent fashion. Rather than going through a major record label, Puscifer paid TuneCore $50 to include the album in iTunes (and other outlets), and with no Big Music or Big Radio machinery behind it, the thing landed at Number Nine on iTunes this week. "The money comes to us, which we need, because we're making a record – and if you like the record, buy the record, so we can make another record," Keenan tells us in an interview for another story on the digital economics of the music business. "And there's nobody taking another slice of it. We can just do what we do, and not have to worry about selling five times as many records just to make a record, in the way the pie is cut up." Stories like this are what makes us feel hopeful for the music business. Of course, Puscifer will probably drop off the charts next week, as just about every rock band seems to do this year, but it's certainly a boost for the band's future touring.
LAST WEEK: Evanescence Leads Rock Back to the Top