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  #1  
Old 04-18-2003, 12:39 PM
Interrobang!? Interrobang!? is offline
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Did the Dixie Chicks lose money because of what they said about Bush?

My father-in-law forwarded a column by Michael Moore to me the other day. (Link works for now, but may only work for a while; it's his "Mike's Message" column from April 7.)

One of the major points that he makes is that it's really not a financial risk to criticize the war or President Bush. He talks some about the box office performance of Bowling for Columbine after his controversial Oscar speech, and then makes a case study of the Dixie Chicks. An excerpt:
Quote:
Take the Dixie Chicks. I'm sure you've all heard by now that, because their lead singer mentioned how she was ashamed that Bush was from her home state of Texas, their record sales have "plummeted" and country stations are boycotting their music. The truth is that their sales are NOT down. This week, after all the attacks, their album is still at #1 on the Billboard country charts and, according to Entertainment Weekly, on the pop charts during all the brouhaha, they ROSE from #6 to #4.
Now, I seem to recall reading that although their chart rankings remained excellent or improved, sales were actually down. Because sales were down for just about everybody that week, though, the Chicks' chart positions weren't negatively effected.

Moore cites a couple more examples (concert tickets still hard to find, Internet downloads of their song still really popular), then makes this assertion:
Quote:
They have not been hurt at all -- but that is not what the media would have you believe.
This is the statement I'm really curious about, and I'd like as factual an answer as is possible.

Did their anti-Bush comments cause the Dixie Chicks to lose money? What was the economic impact of Natalie Maines snarking on Bush? Is the media wrong about this, is Michael Moore wrong in his assertion, or is the truth somewhere in between?

[Obligatory note: I'm looking for a factual answer to this question. Not a debate about what the Chicks said, what Michael Moore said at the Oscars. I'm really not attempting to start yet another Iraqi war wrangle. Please don't hijack my thread. Thank you.]
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  #2  
Old 04-18-2003, 12:45 PM
kpm kpm is offline
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They did lose some radio airplay of their music. I'm not sure all the details but that might lead to less royalties for them.

Their US tour starts in 2 weeks and from what I have read the ticket sales were very high. They did not give refunds to people who wanted to return their tickets. There might be no-shows at the concerts which could impact sales of T-shirts and stuff like that.
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Old 04-18-2003, 12:45 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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Are the media wrong about this. . .
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  #4  
Old 04-18-2003, 12:46 PM
Governor Quinn Governor Quinn is offline
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I'd say that what Ms. Maines said had some effect on sales and airplay, but not as big of an effect as was expected. This, in part, probably comes from the fact that they do well enough crossing over to "pop" listeners so that boycotts by country-music listeners (the people doing most of the complaining) don't have that large an effect.
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  #5  
Old 04-18-2003, 01:23 PM
Eats_Crayons Eats_Crayons is offline
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Oddly enough, I also know some non-country music fans who bought their album as a show of support (they thought it was a remarkably brave thing to do -- saying what you feel rather than what everyone wants you to say). Those albums will sit unopened on a shelf somewhere.

I also wondered a little if banning the song from radio play didn't end up encouraging some CD sales because you had to buy the album to hear the songs you'd been enjoying freely on the air waves.

As Quinn pointed out, the Dixie Chicks also have major crossover appeal, so ticking off one fan-base isn't going to hurt them as much as you'd expect.

Plus, U.S. audiences love the underdog, so if they are ever perceived as the "much-maligned Dixie Chicks" it can't hurt them too badly.
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  #6  
Old 04-18-2003, 01:47 PM
Beer Penguin Beer Penguin is offline
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Everything Mike Moore says about anything is cleverly disguised rhetoric and amounts to crap in reality.

The latest Dixie Chicks album was really good, and anti-Bush sentiment is strong enough even in Texas that it shouldn't really have hurt them. As a Texan I have to say that I'm pretty mad that Bush claims to be one.
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  #7  
Old 04-18-2003, 02:24 PM
Sauron Sauron is offline
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I think it's too soon to get a definitive answer to the question. It might be worth asking again in a year or so. The answer should be fairly obvious by then.
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  #8  
Old 04-18-2003, 02:40 PM
Interrobang!? Interrobang!? is offline
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Sauron, that's a good point. The real impact of their statements may not be known for a long while. Of course, it's going to be difficult to figure out what would've happened to their career if they hadn't made those statements. That's probably too hypothetical for GQ.

I guess my question is more specific: as of April 7 (the date of Moore's column), was there conclusive evidence that the Dixie Chicks lost money, made money or broke even because of those comments? I'm willing to believe any of those scenarios at this point.
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  #9  
Old 04-18-2003, 02:49 PM
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Heh, no offense, but buying the Dixie Chicks' album to "show your support"? How could their single purchase possibly stand out against the millions and millions of others who buy it? It's called "popular music" for a reason, ya know.
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  #10  
Old 04-18-2003, 02:52 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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It is very hard to talk about whether they "made money", for several reasons. First, most measurements of "made money" have to do with unit sales of their records, or sales of concert tickets. Those are not direct measurements of how much income the Dixie Chicks themselves get. Some acts are able to get terrific deals with concert promoters that guarantee a certain (high) minimum, regardless of ticket sales.
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  #11  
Old 04-18-2003, 03:15 PM
Rysdad Rysdad is offline
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The Dixie Chicks' concert series was announced, and basically sold out, before Natalie made her comment. I suspect that, had she made it prior the road trip was announced, it might not have sold out so soon (but, it probably would've sold out anyway).
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  #12  
Old 04-18-2003, 03:34 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quote:
Heh, no offense, but buying the Dixie Chicks' album to "show your support"? How could their single purchase possibly stand out against the millions and millions of others who buy it? It's called "popular music" for a reason, ya know.
A single person buying their album, who otherwise would not have, as a show of support, makes exactly as much sense as a single person who otherwise would have bought the album boycotting it in protest. I won't discuss (in GQ, at least) exactly how logical that is, but it's equally logical either way.
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  #13  
Old 04-18-2003, 04:15 PM
Stephe96 Stephe96 is offline
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I believe I read somewhere recently (sorry, I don't have a link) that the Dixie Chick in question has retracted a bit from her initial anti-Bush comments...saying, in effect, that they were meant as a joke or something like that.

IF this is true, I think it would indicate that the Dixie Chicks themselves believe the comments are hurting CD and/or ticket sales. I mean, you wouldn't backpedal on comments that caused sales to SURGE, would you?
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  #14  
Old 04-18-2003, 04:33 PM
astorian astorian is offline
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As usual, Michael Moore is completely misreading the controversy.

When the media reported that the Dixie Chicks were losing sales due to their political remarks, they were NOT doing so with a "Ha ha, those stupid liberals are losing money, serves them right" tone. Quite the opposite. They reported it it with an outraged tone. "This is terrible! Those women have constitutional rights! How DARE anybody boycott their CDs and concerts."

It was the same during the first Gulf War. I lost count of how many times liberal columnists and commentators shed tears for poor Woody Harrelson, who was allegedly losing roles and paychecks because of his opposition to the war ("thirtysomething" devoted a whole episode to a thinly disguised Woody Harrelson). I repeat, it was NOT conservatives who reprted that Woody HArrelson was being hurt- it was liberals who made that claim, in hopes of gaining sympathy for Woody. (In reality, it's hard to imagine how Woody's career could have gone much BETTER after the Gulf War!).

Now, HAS the controversy cost the Dixie Chicks money? My GUESS (it's only a guess) is that it's cost them a small amount of money, but not enough for anybody to get excited about. People who liked their music before, still do. People who bought tickets for their upcoming concerts aren't going to burn those tickets.
But most people just don't take entertainers all that seriously as political spokespersons. VERY few people take the Dixie Chicks seriously enough to bother boycotting them.

In my opinion, IF the war had gone badly, they MIGHT have experienced a more severe backlash. But since the war SEEMS to have ended fairly quickly, easily and painlessly, there aren't likely to be many real repercussions.
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  #15  
Old 04-18-2003, 05:10 PM
Achernar Achernar is offline
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Okay, so far we've had seven speculations and zero sources of information to the answer to the OP, which includes, "I'm looking for a factual answer to this question." Just making sure we're all on the same page.
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  #16  
Old 04-19-2003, 02:33 PM
Payton's Servant Payton's Servant is offline
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I was flipping through the April 5, 2003 issue of Billboard and there is a regular column in there which deals with album sales. It said that sales of the Dixie Chicks album had declined after the remarks were made, but it was still the in the #1 position on the Top Country Albums chart. Also, album sales are traditionally "soft" at this time of year, so a downward trend in sales isn't unexpected.
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  #17  
Old 04-19-2003, 03:12 PM
I can't believe that's butter! I can't believe that's butter! is offline
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Well, it looks that Lipton fears that such comments are potentially volatile to sales.
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  #18  
Old 04-19-2003, 04:01 PM
manhattan manhattan is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Beer Penguin
Everything Mike Moore says about anything is cleverly disguised rhetoric and amounts to crap in reality.
If that's the case, feel free to debunk each individual statement when it comes up, rather than making a sweeping generalization like that in GQ.

I agree that it's too early to tell for certain, and accordingly I'm going to close this thread before it gets more political.
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  #19  
Old 04-19-2003, 04:05 PM
manhattan manhattan is offline
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I changed my mind. I'm leaving it open, and I'm just going to summarily ban the author of any subsequnt post which is not a factual contribution to the question below.

Quote:
Originally posted by Interrobang!?
I guess my question is more specific: as of April 7 (the date of Moore's column), was there conclusive evidence that the Dixie Chicks lost money, made money or broke even because of those comments? I'm willing to believe any of those scenarios at this point.
Fair warning.
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  #20  
Old 04-19-2003, 07:18 PM
Eats_Crayons Eats_Crayons is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by occ
Heh, no offense, but buying the Dixie Chicks' album to "show your support"? How could their single purchase possibly stand out against the millions and millions of others who buy it? It's called "popular music" for a reason, ya know.
*shrug* I think the theory behind buying the album in "support" is that, as Chronos said, it offsets the "damage" of those who would normally buy it but aren't. I don't think it's particularly meant to stand out in any way.

I'm sure the songwriters who wrote the songs are happy enough to get their 7 cents.
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  #21  
Old 04-19-2003, 07:40 PM
CelraySoda CelraySoda is offline
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On Fox News, I caught the last bit of a segment from an interview of the PR guy for the Dixie Chicks. He seemed like he was in a hurry and he said something to the point of..."They are losing popularity from our pro-Bush fans but we are also gaining new fans who agree with what Maines said. I don't think this will affect any sales of their new releases or their upcoming tour."
(Not a quote but a summary of what I heard)
I tried to find this quote, word for word but no deal.
-M
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  #22  
Old 04-21-2003, 02:03 PM
kpm kpm is offline
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Their album is #1 on the country chart right now:

http://www.billboard.com/bb/charts/country.jsp
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  #23  
Old 04-21-2003, 03:07 PM
LanceUSMC LanceUSMC is offline
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I heard on the news yesterday that they took a 40% dip in record sales, which to mean means they lose money.
And yes, they may have cross over pop fans, but their heart and soul is country. The country stations more than anything are leading the 'ban the Dixie Chicks' hype. I know I enjoyed their music, but tend to turn it off now if it comes on the radio.
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  #24  
Old 04-21-2003, 08:17 PM
Payton's Servant Payton's Servant is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by LanceUSMC
I heard on the news yesterday that they took a 40% dip in record sales, which to mean means they lose money.
And yes, they may have cross over pop fans, but their heart and soul is country. The country stations more than anything are leading the 'ban the Dixie Chicks' hype.
According to Billboard , sales for the Dixie Chicks concert tour have been completely unaffected beyond the odd comment to a bvuilding asking for a refund. The Chicks sold $49,000,000 worth of tickets during the March 1 weekend.

Their album is back in the #1 slot on the Top Country Albums chart after spending a week at #2.

And it is at #30 on the Billboard 200 chart, which counts all albums regardless of genre/style.

And I have seen nothing about their sales being down 40% and even if that's true, it's not that surprising, as this is usually a slow period in terms of album sales.

They haven't lost any money.

Perhaps they haven't made as much as they might have, but they haven't lost any.
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  #25  
Old 04-21-2003, 08:38 PM
Saxman Saxman is offline
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from the wire services
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  #26  
Old 04-25-2003, 09:42 AM
Sauron Sauron is offline
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This article from New Zealand implies that their views have hurt them financially. In addition to the 40 percent dip in sales noted earlier, their album is basically number one by default; nothing new is being introduced right now.

How much they've lost because of their stance is open to debate, but I think it's obvious they've lost some money they otherwise would have made.
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  #27  
Old 04-25-2003, 10:22 AM
puddleglum puddleglum is offline
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http://att.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,11476,00.html
This article says that radio play declined 20% and album sales declined by 21,000 copies from the previous week. This decline was not as large as other country acts. What the album sales would have been in the absence of the comments is unknowable, but it makes sense that a 20% decline in radio airplay would probably hurt sales somewhat. On the other hand they have received huge amounts of free publicity.
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  #28  
Old 04-25-2003, 10:47 AM
astorian astorian is offline
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Sticking purely to factual data: it appears that all of the Dixie Chicks concerts in Texas for 2003 have sold out, as have all but 3 of the concerts booked throughout the South.

Now, it's certainly possible, even likely that the Chicks have alienated some fans, but not enough to prevent sellouts. So, it appears that SCALPERS will be the only ones to suffer, if there's any backlash!
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  #29  
Old 04-25-2003, 12:48 PM
Padeye Padeye is offline
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I won't get into the debate aspects of this discussion but just add Derf's commentary.
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  #30  
Old 04-26-2003, 02:00 AM
Interrobang!? Interrobang!? is offline
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This week's Entertainment Weekly just arrived, complete with naked-cover story on the Chicks. A quote:
Quote:
Sales of their current album, Home, plummeted from 124,000 the week the story broke to 33,000 a week – the result [Simon] Renshaw says, of the group's near-complete absence from radio.
There's also a chart of their album's sales from the week ending February 9 through the week ending April 20. On March 9, 145,788 copies of Home sold, down from 202,350 the week before (the high in the period, labeled "a post-Grammy-show bump"). March 16, sales were 123,952. March 23: 71,732, called "the post-Bush-insult freefall." March 30, sales were 51,379, and April 6, 41,554.

Given that, in the context of my original question, Moore's statement that sales are not down is simply false. Pre-Bush-comment: 145,788 sales. April 6, the day before Moore's column is dated, sales were 41,554 -- a 71.5% decline in total sales in four weeks. (Re: Renshaw's comment: sales bottomed (so far) at 33,127 the week ending April 13.)

Whether or not their sales would've gone so low if they hadn't made their comments is probably unanswerable.
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  #31  
Old 04-26-2003, 03:32 AM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is offline
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So sales went like this over a 6 week span?

202,350
145,788
123,952
71,732
51,379
41,554

That's not an uncommon six week swing, especially for a CD that's been out for a while. See recent albums from Creed, NSync, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilara, and the Now collections for similar examples.

The comments prove nothing.
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