Arctic Monkeys' manager on the chart contest with Taylor Swift, vinyl sales and AM's enduring power

Arctic Monkeys' manager on the chart contest with Taylor Swift, vinyl sales and AM's enduring power

Arctic Monkeys are back with their seventh album, The Car (Domino Recordings). So to mark the occasion and a huge week for music retail, longtime manager Ian McAndrew has spoken to Music Week about the campaign - you can read the full interview in the latest issue.

There are huge expectations for the release - particularly on vinyl - following six consecutive No.1 albums for Arctic Monkeys. The new LP is billed as a “new and sumptuous musical landscape”. But this time they face a challenge in the form of Taylor Swift, whose Midnights (EMI) LP is out on the same day (October 21)

Arctic Monkeys’ previous album, Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino broke records in 2018 despite its low-key campaign. With almost 25,000 vinyl LPs sold in week one out of a total of 86,359, the album became the biggest seller on that format in 25 years (Harry Styles has since claimed that sales record).

The band are doing blockbuster business on their May-June 2023 UK stadium tour, for which dates have been added. There are now three sold-out gigs at Emirates Stadium in London, two at Emirates Old Trafford and a pair of homecoming shows at Hillsborough Park in Sheffield.

Arctic Monkeys dropped a new single, I Ain't Quite Where I Think I Am, this week ahead of today’s album release for The Car. Unlike many guitar-based acts, they have a strong streaming following and have maintained a presence in the singles chart. The Car’s lead single, There’d Better Be A Mirrorball, and follow-up Body Paint both cracked the Top 30.

With the announcement of their new album, Arctic Monkeys’ 2013 album AM - already a streaming perennial - returned to the Top 10 for the first time since 2014. It has sales this year of 122,886 and a cumulative tally of 1,596,093.

Here, Ian McAndrew, CEO and founder of Wildlife Entertainment, reflects on the success of that LP. But first he opens up about the campaign for The Car, including the chart battle with Taylor Swift…

Arctic Monkeys broke vinyl sales records with Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino - what are the ambitions for this release in terms of vinyl and overall week one sales?  

“On the last album, we defied all industry logic and chose to release the record with minimal formats and no advance single. The nature of the album demanded it was presented and framed as a body of work. It still enjoyed strong first week sales and was the fastest selling vinyl album of the past 25 years.

“For The Car, we will offer even fewer formats than before. There are no multiple CD and multi-cassette formats, nor a range of different album sleeves. To show our support, we do have an exclusive-coloured vinyl format for indie retailers. While the modest choice of formats puts us at a disadvantage in terms of week one sales, it honours the ‘no-nonsense’ approach of the band and, importantly, honours the fans.”

After six consecutive No.1 studio albums, what are your hopes for The Car, which is up against Taylor Swift?  

“I think The Car might find the No 1 parking spot is taken by a pop juggernaut. Either way, it will be a great week for music fans. There will be plenty to celebrate for everyone.”

The Car is the most remarkable and accomplished album the band have recorded

Ian McAndrew

Arctic Monkeys are one of the few non-heritage bands to crack streaming platforms with 36m Spotify listeners - what has been key to this success? 

“The ever-growing streaming success of Arctic Monkeys is driven by fans sharing their love of the band. It always has been that way. It started with fans sharing CDs, then moved to MySpace and is now on TikTok. The band do not use social media, but the fans do - and they love to share.”

How are the band developing on this seventh album - how is Alex Turner growing as a songwriter and vocalist?  

“The Car is the seventh studio album for Arctic Monkeys and, once you include the work of The Last Shadow Puppets, the ninth studio album from Alex Turner.  Creatively, it has been an exhilarating journey. They continue to confound and astonish us with incredible songs. The Car is the most remarkable and accomplished album the band have recorded.”

How will the campaign continue into 2023 - what are the touring and festival plans for this album? 

“We have just announced a large stadium tour for the UK and Ireland next June. This will be the biggest headline tour the band have undertaken. We are looking forward to returning to South America in November and to Europe, Asia and the US in 2023. It’s going to be a busy year!” 

We should also mention the enduring power of AM as an album that is streamed consistently - what do you think is behind its evergreen appeal as we approach its 10th anniversary?

“AM was released in 2013, so to find the album back in the Top 10 after all this time is incredible. The songs have an enduring resonance and have been shared and embraced by a whole new generation of fans. Tracks like Do I Wanna Know?, Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? and I Wanna Be Yours are bigger today than they were when the record was first released. It’s a celebrated collection of great work - and the party is still going on!”

See the latest edition of Music Week for the full interview, including insights on the band’s live business, plus music retail reaction.

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