Guitarist/vocalist Michael Sweet of Christian hard rockers STRYPER says that he is "deeply puzzled" by the fact that sales of most bands' albums keep declining even as their social-media presence continues to grow.
STRYPER's latest studio album, "No More Hell To Pay", sold around 9,600 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 35 on The Billboard 200 chart. This was more than double the first-week tally registered by "Second Coming", a collection of re-recorded versions of STRYPER's classic songs, which opened with around 4,400 units back in May 2013 to land at No. 117.
STRYPER's covers album, 2011's "The Covering", premiered with around 4,600 copies to enter the chart at No. 175, while the band's previous collection of new material, 2009's "Murder By Pride", sold 5,900 copies to debut at No. 73.
While promoting STRYPER's latest release, a live CD/DVD combination called "Live At The Whisky", Sweet told the "Totally Driven Radio" podcast (hear audio below): "The one thing in this world, I think, every band faces — and I know Sebastian Bach has talked about it recently — and that is the album sales don't equate to the followers on Facebook and Twitter. If you have a million followers on Facebook and you sell ten thousand copies of an album, something's weird, something's wrong. I don't know what it is; I don't think anybody's figured it out. I mean, there are all the reasons that play into it, obviously, such as, you know, people just don't buy music these days, people download, the economy's bad, people don't have the money… blah blah blah… you know, it goes on and on and on. But there's still something puzzling about that — like, deeply puzzling. And it's very concerning, because it's, like, 'What's going on?' And it seems to be that the sales keep going down. And, again, [it's] all relative, but all around the board. I mean, it doesn't matter what genre in music, sales are just declining. People just, I guess, aren't buying, or, for whatever reason, don't wanna buy music anymore."
Sweet also commented on U2's decision to team with Apple to put the Irish rock band's new album, "Songs Of Innocence", on every single iTunes account in the world for free regardless of whether it was wanted or not. He said: "I'm not jealous or upset with the guys. They made their business move and made a whole ton of money, and then Apple gave their album away. But I still feel that that was a big blow to bands like us because we can't afford to give our albums away. And it sets the precedent that everyone's going to eventually expect for all albums to be given away."
He added: ""I just feel, though, by U2, one of the biggest bands in the world, [doing this], other big bands are gonna follow — you know, the Lady Gagas and the COLDPLAYs and all these bands that are huge. That's gonna be the new trend — at least that's my opinion — of music albums being given away, and then it's gonna set the trend for everybody. And the next album we release, if we're not giving it away, or giving it away for practically nothing, people are gonna say, 'We're not gonna pick it up,' or 'We can't afford it.' Or 'So and so's album is only $2.99 and yours is $10.99, or $9.99.' You know what I mean? It just sets the tone. I guess we have to follow."
After "Totally Driven" host Bay Ragni pointed out to Sweet that the U2 album can be easily removed from the iTunes music library once it has been downloaded, the STRYPER frontman said: "Well, I know. I read a lot of stuff and I heard a lot of concerns, and I understood some of them. I mean, for example, what if you don't want it? What if you're not a U2 fan, you don't like that kind of music, and you wake up and it's in your inbox. It's a bit like spam, right? Some people don't wanna be inconvenienced or hassled to have to delete it. I mean, as silly as it sounds, I get it. I understand. I mean, I get frustrated when I go in and I've got a porn in my inbox. Yeah, I just go delete it, but it still frustrates me that I have to."