“We try not to think too much about the Billboard charts,” Asthmatic Kitty’s Michael Kaufmann told us last week, when we asked him about the label’s sales expectations for Sufjan Stevens’s newly released Age of Adz. Maybe not, but the label was also straightforward about the dilemma it faced: allow Amazon to sell the record for $3.99, and thus have a shot at the Billboard Top Ten, or defend the integral value of the LP, which Asthmatic Kitty pegged as quite a bit higher. Ultimately, the label compromised, allowing Amazon to sell their record at a discount, but not before reminding fans there were other, perhaps more responsible ways of purchasing Age of Adz. Yesterday, AK’s conflicted strategy paid off: Sufjan now has the seventh most popular record in all of America.
Or this week he does, anyway. We know by now the Vampire Weekend/Arcade Fire/Sleigh Bells cameos in the top ten tend to be extremely short-lived–especially when the discount disappears. But in the meantime, Stevens is enjoying his best sales week ever, with 36,000 copies of Age of Adz sold, a landmark for Asthmatic Kitty as well, and good enough to best the considerably more hairy-chested acts Toby Keith and Zac Brown Band.
“Why do we want them to buy the new Sufjan album?” Kaufmann asked us rhetorically, right before it came out. “So we can continue to put out albums by other musicians who use the financial support to continue to focus on their craft, as well as support our employees. We are committed to our artists for the long term whether they are turning a profit or not. And in many cases on our label they are not turning a significant profit to sustain their career.” At the moment though, Sufjan surely is. May that tide lift all boats. [Billboard]