Sophomore Flops

Record companies to artists: "What have you done for me lately?"

In the Ladies' case, that scenario might have been a reality. The band's first album, Gordon, sold 900,000 copies in Canada, but its second, Maybe You Should Drive, sold only a third as many. "I think, frankly, we never got dropped because we sold lots of copies of our first record in Canada," Page says, laughing. "We always sold just enough to recoup everything, but it sure looks nice for a label to say, 'We've got five albums with this band before they broke.' And maybe it will set a precedent for other labels to go, 'Maybe it will take five records before they make it big.' " But as many wary musicians in an ever-hardening business-first, art-second world warn: Don't count on it.

Contrary to expectations, sophomore records by Everclear and Radiohead were successful; though it took Barenaked Ladies until its fifth album to obtain any noticeable acclaim.
Contrary to expectations, sophomore records by Everclear and Radiohead were successful; though it took Barenaked Ladies until its fifth album to obtain any noticeable acclaim.

"Everything has gotten really oversimplified," says Wozniak. "Everybody wants to oversimplify the whole process of marketing records. The public's not that simple. The bands aren't that simple. You end up getting all these A&R people at record companies signing bands that they think sound like Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock because Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock have done well. The fact of the matter is you can't do that without destroying the music business in the process."

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