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Posted on: November 5, 2008

When Word of Mouth Promotion Goes Wrong

Apparently Wu-Tang Clan is something to F’ with.

That is if you go off the GZA/Genius’ first week sales for his latest album Pro-Tools. First week out and the lyrical assassin for the Clan sells only 9,000 albums.

And, considering how fresh the album is, that’s a travesty.

In fact, GZA’s album sold 50k less than Lil’ Wayne’s Carter 3 did last week. The sad thing about this is that low album sales have a word-of-mouth effect that lowers everybody’s expectations. Low albums sales create a low opinion of the album which discourages people from even checking it out.

Since when did first week album sales determine what was hot?

The point is, GZA’s album is fresh. It’s possibly the best record he’s put out since Liquid Swords, and any true hip-hop fan can tell you how much weight a statement like that carries. The release of Pro-Tools brings up one of the biggest issues at hand in the music industry today: how word-of-mouth can kill an album’s sales.

For quite some time, there’s been the notion that the first week’s album sales are what dictate whether or not a record is hot. It seems like hip-hop fans no longer go out to buy records based on liking the artist’s work, but rather because they were told by the charts that a record was hot. And while most people would argue that the hot records are the best sellers, they’re probably forgetting that some of the most heralded rap albums in history didn’t do so well on the charts.

Take Illmatic, for example. Nas’ debut album redefined hip-hop as a whole and put Queens back on the map, but it took that album almost a decade to sell a million copies. Does that mean that Illmatic wasn’t hot when it first came out? Of course not. It means that it just took people – die hard hip-hop fans mind you- a while to realize the album’s greatness.

Hopefully the same thing will happen here and GZA’s Pro-Tools will get the accolades it deserves.

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