MACHINE HEAD’s ROBB FLYNN Speaks On ‘Catharsis’ Low Sales And Negative Reactions

MACHINE HEAD vocalist/guitarist Robb Flynn shared a new entry in his ‘The General Journals: Diary Of A Frontman… And Other Ramblings’ series, focusing on the sales of the band’s new album Catharsis.

During its first week of sales in the United States, Catharsis was reported as having sold 8,761 copies, less than half of the 18,250 copies its 2014 predecessor “Bloodstone & Diamonds” moved during its first week.

You can read his entire post below:


The more things change, the more – Bulls**t!

Because my fellow Head Cases, the times they are a changin’!

Our latest album “Catharsis” has bested ‘Bloodstone & Diamonds,’ ‘Unto The Locust,’ and ‘The Blackening,’ with “Catharsis” coming in at #17 on the physical sales-equivalent Billboard Top Current Chart.

Catharsis” sold more CD’s than #8 artist Post Malone, #12 artist Lil Uzi Vert, AND even Eminem‘s – ‘Revival’ this week in sheer physical sales. I know it’s an “all the moons aligned” moment to be in this company, but f**king aye, it’s cool to read!

Catharsis” came in at #1 on the Soundscan Hard Music Charts!

#7 on the top Rock Charts

And hit #65 on the consumption-based (streaming) Top 200 charts.

I know it’s a lot of numbers, but here’s where it all gets tricky.

As you may (or may not) know, the American Top 200 chart has changed, and is now based on a formula that adds up a combination of various music avenues (ie: consumption). It is now primarily based on streaming numbers (Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube), but also includes single-song-downloads (iTunes, Amazon, etc.), album downloads (same), combined with physical CD, and vinyl sales.

You’re with me, right? Because here is the CRAZY part. Outside of America I believe that only Australia is also “consumption-based” which is why it was so freakin’ amazing that we equaled #10 there in comparison to the sales-based ‘Bloodstone & Diamonds’ charting because CD sales across the board have plummeted.

I’d imagine by our next album ALL charts will be consumption-based.

And here is the really, REALLY crazy part.

I pulled up the Top 200 (consumption) chart to see what the top artists were doing in the CD market. Most of these younger pop/hip hop artists have massive streaming fan-bases… and it’s f**king insane!

#1 Top 200 artist Migos (biggest rap group in the land) had quite a few CDs sold at 38,000 copies, but the streaming… HO-LY SHIIIIIIT… 220 MILLION streams in one week. Insane! They had more streams in one week, then our entire 9 album catalog combined in 5 years! And 112,000 single-song downloads!

An artist I’ve been digging a lot lately, Post Malone (“I Fall Apart” is my jam), he is absolutely massive right now (his record came in at #1 on the Top 200 a YEAR AFTER release, singles are 3X platinum) well, he sold 2,600 CD’s, but again, had 42 MILLION streams in one week, and 30,000 single song downloads.

Another extremely popular rapper Lil’ Uzi Vert, who just sold out the Observatory in Anaheim (Los Angeles area), sold a mere 845 CD’s, but did 35 MILLION streams!! Rounding out the Top 20 of the Top 200 is #19 Kodak Black (who my 13 year old son Zander listens to all the time)… well, he did (are you ready?) 216 f**king CD’s (?!?) but again streamed 25 million streams, and had 8,000 single-song-downloads.

And these guys do these streaming numbers week after week, after week, after week…

And you wonder why you don’t recognize any names in the Top 200?!

Check this, Machine Head’s – Catharsis did 600,000 in streams, 1,800 single-song downloads, and 8,761 in actual CD sales and about 200 in vinyl sales. The Soundscan Top Current Chart is what would have been the former-Top 200 chart used in the ‘Bloodstone’-era, ‘Locust’-era, and ‘Blackening’-era, as it was the pre-streaming/pre-consumption based-era.

It’s the chart that compares physical sales to physical sales, and is comparing apples to apples. There we charted at #17, over former reigning chart position Bloodstone & Diamonds at #21. That is a victory.

Definitely a drop from the last record, sure… a lot of undo negativity around the album, but the fact is, people just aren’t buying CD’s anymore, and unfortunately the Metal community’s steadfast resistance to streaming has only made that more difficult for every Metal band out there, in what is now a steaming society.

And if the all numbers above don’t convince you the CD is headed to extinction in the U.S., check this out!

Just 2 days ago Best Buy (the former #1 big box music retailer) officially announced they will no longer sell/carry CD’s, and Target (another big box chain) announced at the same time, it would only sell CD’s on “consignment basis”. Meaning: it will only pay the label when a CD sells, rather than buy bulk in advance (but f**k them, they never carried Machine Head anyway).

Talk about the times a changin’…

It’s all a bit confusing I know…

It is for us as well…

In fact the music business is quite confusing right now.

Hell, life is quite confusing right now!!!

But I call it how I see it, like my quote in the press release the other day, I really do gotta give the biggest SHOUT OUT humanly possible to the Head Cases of America who have stood their ground through a veritable hurricane of negativity, online hate, and belligerent-ass-reviews to go out there and grab this album. Frankly it’s a miracle we did those kind of numbers!! The sheer vitriol aimed at myself and the band, is to put it mildly, staggering. We make no apologies.

But the fact remains, you stood with us! You deserve to be applauded so f**king loudly our hands should hurt from clapping and our throats from cheering. We are unbelievably grateful to you… more than you will ever know.

What I’d also add to that we will rely on you, build off you, and champion you for standing with us, in what are frankly “weird f**king times.”

Weird cause of people’s beliefs, (or what they choose to believe), and weird inside the music business. We had 28 magazine covers overseas… 28… and here in the U.S. = Zero. Like I said, 4 of the top 19 artists on Billboard sold between 200 and 2800 CDs this week, but had streaming numbers so freakin’ high, it put them above ALL Metal acts.

It’s hard to wrap ones head around…

If there is a rock in this sea of confusion…

It’s that this current “Evening With” tour is doing the highest attendances and the best merch numbers we’ve had in 24 years of headlining / co-headlining. Bar-none! We’re hardly talking Taylor Swift numbers here, and as you can see in the nightly FB posts, there are some empty seats… but there’s ALWAYS been empty seats in the U.S.!

For various reasons we’ve had to beef up security a bit, just to be on the safe side, but the fact is, we are so glad to be out on the road again and as we progress we’re mixing up the sets a bit!! So who knows what we might do night after night, it’s been a good vibe on stage and reactions to the new songs have been awesome! The older material and the feedback we get, whether you’re in the pit or the balcony, we feed off of it!!

You know, we started on a journey with this album. When this record started taking shape we knew we were sailing away from where we’d been. We threw away the map and drained the phone batteries and just set sail. No idea of the destination, only that when we got there we’d know why we left in the first place. When “Catharsis” was finished and we all set foot on solid ground for the first time… we knew we needed this journey to survive.

There was MUCH discussion that went into the lyrics and subject matter on this album along the way. In the past we might have left songs off that weren’t “metal enough.” I could have toned down the lyrics, or even over-analyzed them, I could have softened the bluntness of them. We could have compromised and removed any music that could be deemed “controversial” to Metalheads (ie: “Bastards” or “Triple Beam“).

But that would have been the ultimate sell out.

Changing our music or our art for a group of people who may or may not even bother to listen…

And if you ask me, the divisiveness in this country seems to have affected the metal and rock community perhaps the most.

Like I said 24 years ago, “America needs some kind of radical change.”

And with “Catharsis” change it got.

More than a few people couldn’t be bothered to part with a measly $9.99, or stream it in order to see if that change was worth it.

Surprising? No, but a damn shame nonetheless.

But that doesn’t matter, were not going away.

Shit… We might be you’re only hope!

Seriously though, we’re out here working hard and playing hard and living hard… and connecting! Reconnecting a bit as a band, reconnecting with the diehards and looking to connect with the ones who will be seeing us for the first time, and there’s a lot of new blood every night! We hope you join us on this crazy trip around our World with no end or destination in sight. Come to think of it, maybe that’s the way life should be.

Maybe we all need to get a little bit lost in the wilderness right now, find ourselves again?

In the years to come, when the tale of this record is told, I’m gonna think back to the first week of this journey, and be reminded of the Head Cases that weren’t afraid of what their “Elitist Metal Brothers” thought of them.

The Head Cases that weren’t afraid of opposing viewpoints.

The Head Cases that don’t continually tell musicians to “shut up and play.”

The Head Cases that were unafraid to take a chance on (all modesty aside) a phenomenal album that speaks of love, and life, and sex, and darkness, and ugliness, and that occasionally gets ignorant as f**k! An album that focused on storytelling, speaking in simple, unflinching terms about rage and anger and depression, and yes… some difficult, tumultuous, confusing times that we are living in right now.

So for those reasons and ten thousand more, I am/we are unbelievably proud to be in your car, iPhone, CD player, record player and computers so we can continue this trip together.

We gotta A LOT to be proud of.

P.S. Head over to machinehead1 for links to the Billboard charts and the Best Buy / no more CD article.”