The week after Mumford & Sons’ sophomore album Babel was released in the U.S. on September 25, it sold 600,000 copies in the U.S. alone. That huge number is not necessarily unexpected, but here are some notes that describe exactly how high that 600k number is:
- Babel had the biggest debut sales week of any album to date this year
- It is the biggest sales week of any rock album in almost four years
- It is the first number one hit on the Billboard 200 albums chart for indie label Glassnote Records
- It’s number one debut marks the sixth year in a row that an indie album has gone to number one on the chart.
Those last two points are the reason I’m writing about the British lads today. If you’ve read a couple of these blogs, you’ve probably discovered that we here at Sage Audio love us some indie artists, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s mainly indie artists that use our online mastering services. So we love it when an indie artist makes good.
As you would expect, so does Daniel Glass – founder of Glassnote Records.
“[There’s been] a lot of excitement, and a lot of validation to be an independent,” Glass told Billboard after the huge sales week. “I don’t get hung up on the numbers – it’s the first week, and you can go nuts with that stuff. I’m just so happy that people embraced the music and were as excited as we were… and the streaming figures are huge, but the sales are great.”
According to Billboard, Babel easily broke Spotify’s records for streams of an album in a single week. The album garnered around eight million listens during its first week. That translates to around one out of every 10 U.S. Spotify users.
“When you have quality and you’re in the sophomore stage of this band’s career, I think the fear of holding it back is worse than letting it go,” Glass commented about the streaming figures. “Opening up the faucet and letting people hear it, stream it and all that stuff is definitely very health, and I think people inherently want to purchase an artifact, a memento, so they have a piece of it now that they streamed it.”
This view is basically the exact opposite view of Scott Borchetta, founder of Big Machine Records. That company is also an independent label, and home to Taylor Swift. Borchetta said recently he feels like the only group benefiting from streaming music sites like Spotify and Pandora are the major record labels.
Of course, both Big Machine and Glassnote Records partner with major label distributors (Glassnote uses Sony’s RED Distribution). Additionally, Mumford & Sons is signed to Island Records or its parent company Universal in all parts of the world that aren’t the U.S.
Mumford & Sons’ first album, Sigh No More, scored Glassnote a number two hit back in 2011. The label also had a large indie hit with Phoenix’s 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.