2021 has been another busy year here at Townsend Music, with our roster of artist stores increasing, our community flourishing and the scope of our services expanding. With people spending more time at home than ever, online direct-to-consumer music services have continued to be a growing - and crucial - part of the physical music business and TM is here at the heart of it.
Here's Part 1 of our retrospective of a momentous year, celebrating the chart successes, new business and - most of all - incredible music that 2021 produced.
Seconds out! Townsend Music's 2021 got off to a knockout start with You Me At Six beating all contenders at the top of the Official UK Album Charts with Suckapunch, the Surrey-based band's seventh long-player. An impactful 85% of sales for Suckapunch were attributed to physical formats, including deluxe CD, cassette and a range of vinyl colourways and special editions.
A rallying cry for the band's ardent fans, the victory was celebrated on the Official Charts site with You Me At Six’s SUCKAPUNCH debut at Number 1. Proving popular on the band's official store was their own recipe Suckapunch Hot Sauce and all pre-orders for the album were entered for the chance to win Matt's Barnes' bass guitar, signed by the band!
"Thank you to everyone who wrote us off, this is for you" - You Me At Six
Also rocking our new year was the launch of an album campaign for heavyweights Royal Blood, whose Typhoons album and 7" singles blew in with exclusive signed prints and ticket pre-sale access. We continued our close relationship with Merseyside indie legends The Coral, whose Coral Island album was available to pre-order on an exclusive red vinyl colourway along with a host of supporting merchandise such as the Over Coral Island signed book.
With debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams finally dropping on January 29th, our February was dominated by the one and only Arlo Parks and her continued ascent. Appearances on Later... with Jools Holland, Live On Jimmy Kimmel and The Graham Norton Show, were amongst the hoopla surrounding the most exhilarating British debut album release in years.
Townsend Music's journey with Arlo began back at the start of 2020, running the official store for Arlo’s Super Sad Generation EP with her management team Beatnik Creative, a relationship which continued into the official store for Collapsed In Sunbeams. Alongside the Townsend Store-exclusive signed clear vinyl, fan bundles included a limited edition signed flexi-disc, showcasing Arlo’s poetry, and a signed Best of the Lo-Fi Lounge CD. By the time the album arrived, all the bundle extras and vinyl on the store were sold out!
"I’m so glad Parks is here to brighten this dark year". - The Independent
Top 10 chart success for albums from Arlo, Steven Wilson (The Future Bites) and Chip (Snakes And Ladders) plus rocking official store launches from Serj Tankian, Death From Above 1979 and Joe Strummer rounded out a busy month.
Also in February, a milestone for Townsend Music was passed with the launch of Kyle Falconer's No Love Songs For Laura, the first Townsend Music D2C+ campaign for an original studio album (more on D2C+ in the next Year In Review article!). Suffice to say that we saw the talent in Kyle and the potential in the album to expand our own provision of services to work with him and his team to get this vital record out into the world.
Way back in 1994, Oasis played London's legendary venue The 100 Club for the princely sum of £250 and, one imagines, a rider including 24 large cans of quality lager. In March 2021, the band spearheaded a fundraiser to raise money for the lockdown-beleaguered venue with a new limited edition t-shirt, sold through their official store.
50% of the profits from the concert-themed t-shirt design were donated directly to The 100 Club. Starting at 9 AM on Wednesday 24 March, the t-shirts were available for strictly 24 hours only from Oasis's official store and went like the proverbial hotcakes, helping the vital venue through the financial challenges of lockdown.
"The collaboration will help the club raise funds during lockdown... 50% of profits going straight to - @100clubLondon" - Oasis
Top ten successes in March for Maximo Park (Nature Always Wins), Digga D (Made In The Pyrex), Alice Cooper (Detroit Stories) and Central C (Wild West) were cause for celebration and the incendiary video for Garbage's 'The Men Who Rule The World' from their No Gods No Masters album campaign sent shockwaves through social media.
Continuing our relationship with Manchester indie pioneers james, the All The Colours Of You album campaign proved hugely popular amongst the Townsend Music community. A range of merchandise and exclusive formats such as the exclusive splatter vinyl and picture discs provided a much-needed lick of colour to an otherwise overcast month!
April kicked our 2021 into overdrive with a busy month for campaign launches, including Back The Way We Came: Vol 1 (2011-2021), a 'Best Of' celebrating the first decade of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds available to pre-order across limited-edition deluxe formats. Another treat for indie-rockers came when Travis continued their run of vinyl reissues with their fifth studio album The Boy With No Name, including the store-exclusive gold vinyl edition.
The Townsend Music Blog, launched late-2020, grew exponentially across 2021 and in April we were proud to publish our most popular article and giveaway to date. A joint effort between TM and The Vaccines (who we'd see again later in the year!) we offered the chance to win a copy of the sold-out pink solid vinyl of What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? generating thousands of entries - and one lucky winner!
"I hope everyone is enjoying the nostalgia trip as much as us x" Justin Hayward- Young, The Vaccines
Another highlight of the month was the top ten album success for Imelda May’s sixth studio album 11 Past The Hour - Imelda and her team are friends and allies who are a pleasure to work with and whose continued success always brings a smile to our faces. But it wasn't only guitar music that made our April memorable this year. The official store for Jorja Smith's Be Right Back, her first body of work since 2019's Mercury Prize-nominated debut Lost & Found, expanded our roster and pop fans received a treat with the shock announcement of 'surprise Steps album' What The Future Holds Part 2 on the Steps Superstore.
Was it ever in doubt? Following the trajectory of number one successes for their previous two full-lengths, Royal Blood's Typhoons blew in at the top spot of the charts, attracting the best reviews of their career. In a fantastic week for Townsend Music, The Coral's Coral Island followed Royal Blood in at number two, with another TM Store taking the number three slot via the BMG box set Mick Fleetwood And Friend Celebrate the Music Of Peter Green. More tremendous chart placements followed, with a top ten hit for Jorja Smith and a momentous showing for Gary Numan's latest studio album Intruder - a record that explores “climate change from the planet’s point of view” - seeing off stiff competition from Twenty One Pilots to land at number two on the Official UK Album Charts. Townsend Music Sales Director Bruce McKenzie had the pleasure of talking to Music Week about our Making Music campaign's 'honest and transparent' part in the success of the record.
“Gary was brilliant at supplying engaging video content for our Making Music updates and the fans loved it." - Bruce McKenzie
As Arlo Parks took a well-deserved win in the Best Breakthrough Artist category at the BRIT Awards (and performed a stunning rendition of 'Hope') our blog continued to go from strength to strength with our most popular original article, Why We Still Love Compact Discs, dedicated to all those still rocking the CD in 2021! Store launches continued with Futurepast, the 15th studio album from Duran Duran, boasting exclusive vinyl variants and signed prints with album bundles.
May delivered another Townsend Music first with the launch of the So Young: Suede 1991-1993 book, a deluxe document of the formative years of Suede, packed with unseen memorabilia. The project was conceived and undertaken as a joint venture between TM and Suede drummer Simon Gilbert, further cementing our expansion into the provision of music industry services from the conception of a project to the delivery of the product into the hands of the superfan.
As summer heated up and football fever swept the nation, Noel Gallagher's Back The Way We Came: Vol 1 (2011-2021) hit the back of the net at number one on the Official UK Album Charts. Also confirming our own premier league status were top 10 hits from Texas (Hi), James (All The Colours Of Your), Del Amitri (Fatal Mistakes) Bugzy Malone (The Resurrection), Garbage (No Gods No Masters) and Joan Armatrading (Consequences).
With giveaways providing customers with another reason to pre-order while helping to bolster chart-eligible sales, exclusive store-based prizes from artists like Garbage and Royal Blood have thrilled fans and artist teams alike in 2021. The offer of a signed Fender acoustic guitar for one lucky customer helped Joan to secure her first top 10 studio album since 1983's The Key!
In what has become one of the biggest annual events on the music calendar, Record Store Day kept us busy in June with the range of records filling the shelves of our bricks and mortar shop and holding pride of place on our own Townsend Music Store. Notable artist store launches included George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of George's masterpiece with a suite of new releases, including the store-exclusive colour 3LP.
Another D2C+ labour of love bore fruit in June, with the launch of the remixed anded remastered version The Byson Family's debut Kick The Traces. We're huge fans of these guys, (as any fans of The War On Drugs, The Black Crowes and The Temperance Movement should be) so it was a pleasure and honour to once again partner with Absolute Label Services in order to get this record ready for a full-scale release.
Look out for Townsend Music 2021 Year In Review - Part 2 coming very soon.