Nines went number 1 with his Crabs In A Bucket album on Friday, but how replicable is that for other artists?
Success is something Nines is no stranger to, but going number 1 with his latest album is something that very few artists from our scene can relate to. In fact, even a number one single is something quite a lot of artists can’t relate to despite the increasing success of artists commercially. J Hus hit number 1 with Big Conspiracy in February, Stormzy went number 1 in January and before him, it was Dave with Psychodrama over a year ago now. So that shows that it’s possible, but also how rare it is to happen for artists which considering the talents we have and the projects they’ve released is a surprise and shame. So what’s the trick to that number 1 album slot?
Well sadly the reason most artists don’t or haven’t reached the number one slot is down to the shift in consumers taking in music largely through streaming now. The conversion rate of streams to sales is terrible, and chart position is based on sales. There are specific streaming charts, but when we talk about number 1 album in the country we’re not talking about the streaming charts. Which means despite quite a few artists from our scene streaming really well, those numbers don’t quite do what’s needed to secure the number 1 album position.
More than that though often what really helps push artists to the number 1 album position is marketing. The way artists market themselves varies, but what tends to happen when it comes to albums is that most artists give us a little burst of energy towards the project a little before it drops and then another burst when it drops. This doesn’t keep people’s attention or make for memorable campaigns, which means people don’t remember to buy the project or stream it until the next time they see it which could be well after that initial release window.
Nines completely flipped this and rather than little bursts gave a sustained effort towards promoting the project. Whether it was the short film for the project, billboards, an exclusive Fire In The Booth, music videos, or spend towards advertising across social media and streaming platforms – Nines made sure we couldn’t forget his project was dropping. This sustained effort and the fact that Nines was making a much awaited return to music made for a marketing campaign that made the most of that hype and translated it to sales. Nines also used his socials to push for people to purchase the album physically or digitally rather than just stream it which only helped with the albums chart placement.
An additional thing that helps with that marketing is label backing. Labels will invest where they know they can make money and sadly labels don’t always see a lot of extremely talented artists as financially lucrative. This means that the bigger pushes in marketing – getting the big billboards done, premium playlist placements, and advertising on streaming platforms – is reserved for the artists the labels want to push hardest. Nines is one of those artists they are prepared to bank on, and so are J Hus, Stormzy & Dave.
Ultimately what this means is that whilst there are things you can do to increase your chances of getting that number one, your name and branding will be a large part of whether it’s possible for you or not. It’s also important to note that whilst going number 1 in album charts is an incredible achievement it isn’t the most important thing in the world as an artist. We have legends in the scene who haven’t hit number 1 in album charts but have timeless bodies of work that propelled them to their status as legends now. The most important thing in music is to be an artist that can maintain whilst creating great work, the accolades are nice but in reality, they’re of secondary importance especially when it comes to legacy and longevity.