« Swing Out Sister to Release New Album | Main | Traveling Music »

Prodigy Sales Disappoint, Going Indie?

Liam Howlett lashes out

(EXCLUSIVE) Liam Howlett is not very happy. The band leader of the Prodigy is upset with Maverick Records for supposedly doing a lousy job of marketing the group's latest record "Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned." U.S. sales for the new CD, which was released on September 14, have been a huge disappointment.

The album sold only 16,000 copies in its first week (compared to 396,000 for Nelly's "Suit" that debuted in Billboard's top spot). Things are different in Europe where this fourth Prodigy album is ruling album charts.

Howlett lashes out in an interview this week with arjanwrites.com. "This is Maverick's fault. They don't know what to do with this record. They didn't get behind it and push it hard enough," he says from London. "I don't think people in America know it is actually out yet."

He wonders if a smaller indie label would be a better fit for the Prodigy's electro-punk instead of Maverick, which mass markets artists like Madonna, Alanis Morissette and Michelle Branch to a pop-oriented audience. "To be honest I don't think [Maverick] is the label for us to be on. We probably need to be on a label that understands how to build us from the underground up. That is what this record is about," Howlett says.

Howlett takes his anger with Maverick even further and argues that the Prodigy's previous success in America cannot be credited to the label's fat marketing muscle. "'Fat of The Land' was already a huge hit in England with 'Firestarter' and everything (. . .) and we got huge support from MTV in America. All the [success] relates to before Maverick put the record out."

"I know America is different," he says. "We need to build a cult presence. That's why we have more succes in Europe than in America. It is a shame really. But it doesn't really affect us as a band. We're still coming across to America to play some shows and stuff.

Besides the need to reevaluate his own artistic instincts, Howlett has a point. Maverick has continued to be in disarray after Warner Bros. has taken full control of the label. Talented Maverick artists like Tyler Hilton hardly get the attention they deserve and proven sellers don't fare any better. Alanis Morissette's new album did only so so and Michelle Branch keeps postponing new work.

The Prodigy might just as well go back to a smaller label to get the creative and fresh marketing ideas they need for their ahead-of-the-curve sound. Yet another reason for major label talent to stick to indie imprints as recently discussed in the Japan Times Online (via Largeheartedboy).

September 30, 2004 in Interviews | Permalink


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

yes i have to agree, maverick did a lazy job, i got the album and its great!

Posted by: matt at Oct 4, 2004 4:50:26 AM

I think it's a collective group failure - from both their record company and their PR agency. With a group like the Prodigy you need an intense internet online campaign to reach their core fan-base. Traditional retail marketing will not necessarily work.

Posted by: at Oct 5, 2004 10:13:13 AM

People in America don't know what techno (well done) music is. The Prodigy is only known for "Firestarter". In Europe is a different story though. If The Prodigy still wants to play shows in America, they have to realize that Americans are into another type of music, that's why is called "Pop America" Liam shouls consider to drop Maverick and stick with an india label that perhaps wold do a better job promoting the album. Perhaps if they change labels, the next album wuold be heard in America.

Posted by: Narayan008 at Oct 5, 2004 1:03:22 PM

The music industry is fading, in my opinion, selling out. I am one of the few people in my town that even listens to trance, techno, electronica, house, drum and bass, ambient, and often industrial music. I make music as well, but I don't do it for money, because that's the wrong reason to make music in the first place. You have to have a passion for what you do, and love what you do, for yourself, not for others, and not for money. I think a lot of people socially sell out as well. They listen to whatever is popular, mostly to fit in. "Fitting in" is a fucking American social tragedy that is eating up our culture. I don't think us Americans even have what could be considered "culture". We have so many hypocritical contradictions as well, like, we are the number one distributor of porn, but we have a fit when something controversial airs, and we rush to censor it. Strange huh. We really need to loosen up, listen to different music aside from 50 fuckin' Cent and whatever Pop whiny junk you got playing on the radio, and give other music a chance. MTV isn't really MTV anymore, there's so much garbage on it now it's not even fun to watch. Maybe if they started mixing in some Fluke, BT (Brian Transeau), Kansai, Amoeba Assassin, Aphex Twin, PRODIGY, Chemical Brothers, Moogwai, Andain, Andy Gray, Rom Di Prisco, Junkie XL, Saki Kaskas, Felix Da Housecat, Miss Kittin, or maybe some Tiesto? I don't want to force my type of music on others, but if all you ever play on the radio is rap, pop, rock, and country, then what else are people supposed to like? I think it's a matter of exposure, really. Well, I've ranted long enough,

Posted by: David at Sep 30, 2005 5:01:24 AM

Its now 2009!, "Invaders Must Die"!!!!!

Posted by: Invaders Must Die at Apr 19, 2009 8:53:24 AM