Sophomore Hump

What does it take for a successful band to get over the second-album woes?

If they were in their infancy today, Page says, "You'd think, 'Jeez, October [U2's second album] didn't do so hot.' So you dump them after October. Then they get re-signed and put out Waron some Internet-only label and that sells 15,000 copies and that's the end of that."

In the Ladies' case, that scenario might have happened to them; their first album, Gordon, sold 900,000 copies in Canada, but their 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 most wary musicians in an ever-hardening, business-first, art-second world warn, "Don't count on it."

Sex and candy-less: Without a surefire radio hit, Marcy Playground's Shapeshifter may become another victim of the sophomore slump.
Sex and candy-less: Without a surefire radio hit, Marcy Playground's Shapeshifter may become another victim of the sophomore slump.
Barenaked Ladies: Success in their native Canada allowed the band to keep making records until they broke in the U.S.
Andrew MacNaughtan
Barenaked Ladies: Success in their native Canada allowed the band to keep making records until they broke in the U.S.

"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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