Tom Silverman, founder of Tommy Boy Entertainment, talks about The State of the Music Business:
Here’s another statistic in 2008 there were 1500 releases that sold over 10,000 album units. Out of that there were only 227 of them that were artists that had broken 10,000 for the first time. So in the whole year only 227 of the artists were artists that had broken what we call the “obscurity line.” When you sell 10,000 albums, you’re no longer an obscure artist; people know about you. You may not be a star yet, but you’re in the game. That gets you out of the glut and into the game. We looked at the 227 and identified that only 14 of them were artists doing it on their own and all the rest were on majors and indies; a little more than half were on indies. And that includes Lady Gaga in that number of 227. It includes the biggest artists and ones that sold 10,000 as well, whether they sold a million or 10,001. That’s a pretty daunting number.
Of course, those figures don’t take into account any of the tens of thousands of releases on TuneCore, many of which—according to a post on the company’s blog—sold over 250,000 copies: “Should a band that sells 500,000 songs in one month spread across multiple releases be thought of as less successful than a band that sells 50,000 copies of an album in one month?” I don’t know, but it would be pretty tough for anybody to argue that TuneCore bands such as Nevershoutnever, Boyce Avenue, Secondhand Serenade, and Colt Ford have come even close to crossing the “obscurity line.” Who? Exactly.