LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Despite the No. 20 debut on the
U.S. album charts by Insane Clown Posse's new disc, the
principal player in the Detroit-based rock/rap hybrid knows
what is about to happen.
"We do our best sales in our first two weeks, and then we
fall off," Violent J says.
"The Tempest," self-released on the act's own Psychopathic
Records, sold 33,000 units in the United States in its first
week on the tally, according to Nielsen SoundScan. As ICP
enters its 20th year of existence, the act's fan base, which
ICP lovingly refers to as "juggalos" (for him) and
"juggalettes" (for her), is still showering its support.
And even though first-week sales of "The Tempest" -- the
act's 11th charting album -- are significantly lower than the
73,000 units sold by the act's last full-length, 2004's "Hell's
Pit," Violent J isn't worried. That's because ICP has an entire
industry to fall back on.
A smaller, more underground version of Kiss and its "Kiss
army," perhaps, ICP feeds its juggalos and juggalettes a bevy
of products, from board games and lunch boxes to lighters and
watches, and stages its own multiday convention of sorts (the
Gathering) every July. Dates have not yet been set for this
year's event, but last year's fest -- staged outside of
Columbus, Ohio -- featured such performers as Too $hort,
Digital Underground and Drowning Pool. The Columbus Dispatch
estimated last year's attendance in the 7,000 range.
"We do everything but the actual manufacturing of the CDs,"
Violent J says. "That's the only thing we don't do yet, but
we're getting a damn pressing plant one day."
For now, the act will have to settle for about 30 full-time
employees manning its own studio, office and 25,000-square-foot
warehouse space. ICP also started an extreme wrestling league
in the JCW (Juggalo Championshit Wrestling), and works such
artists as Twiztid, Blaze and Boondox under the Psychopathic
banner. A recently launched imprint, Hatchet House Records,
will release lesser-known acts.
While ICP has worked with its share of major labels, it
launched Psychopathic in 1991 to release albums from side
projects and friends. The company is headed by Bill Dail, who
declined to be interviewed.
"When we first started off, we did everything ourselves,
and the goal was to get a record deal," Violent J says. "We
sold more and more CDs and figured out how to get it in the
stores and we figured out how to do merchandise. Once we got
signed, we realized the label only did what we were doing."
The band has had a sometimes contentious relationship with
major labels, most notably its well-publicized scuffle with
Disney-owned Hollywood Records over the content of its 1997
album "The Great Milenko." The act eventually signed to Island,
and went completely independent for the release of 2002's "The
Wraith: Shangri-La." While the act's sales have never come
close since to matching the 1.7 million units sold by "The
Great Milenko," its two independent full-lengths have sold more
than 220,000 units each.
The act's entire catalog of full-lengths and EPs has sold
6.5 million units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. And even
though CD sales are declining, ICP business is doing just fine,
Violent J says.
"Our merchandise today does better than it ever has," he
says. "But there's probably no chance in hell that 'The
Tempest' will go platinum. But if we can get it over 100,000
units, I'll be happy as hell because I know that'll bring a lot
of revenue into the company."