By SCOTT MacLEOD
Paul Holmes reckons he's sold 20,000 copies of his self-titled album - but it appears only about half that number have actually been bought by the public.
The celebrity crooner last weekend struck back at critics by saying 20,000 copies of the Paul Holmes album had gone to "happy homes."
That came after the music industry's umbrella group awarded the album platinum status, meaning it had sold at least 15,000 copies.
But on closer examination, those figures are not quite what they seem.
Holmes' album is distributed by Warner Music NZ. Its marketing manager, Jerry Lloyd, said 12,000 copies were sent to record stores on November 23, and stores had since ordered another 8000.
As of Tuesday, 20,023 compact discs and tapes had been sent to stores - but Mr Lloyd could not say how many of those had actually been sold to the general public.
Judging by a Herald survey of 25 music stores, nearly half were yet to be sold.
Sales staff in the smaller stores gave figures which showed they had sold between 26 per cent and 85 per cent of their Paul Holmes stock, at an average of 52 per cent. But the consensus was that The Warehouse chain would account for about half of Holmes' total sales.
Warehouse management refused to give sales figures, so the Herald phoned 18 branches until striking one that would. It had sold just 12 Paul Holmes from its stock of 33, at $29.99 on CD and $16.99 on tape.
But off-the-record comments from Warehouse stores suggested the album was generally selling well. One staff member said it had sold better than the Beatles' 1 on a couple of days, possibly because the store was offering a deal with a Holmes book for an extra $2.
So with all those copies yet to be sold, how did Paul Holmes go platinum?
The Recording Industry Association (Rianz) said it awarded platinum status for the number of albums Warners sent to music stores - not for how many were actually sold to the public.
Another way of gauging an album's success is by checking the weekly top-50 chart. Paul Holmes entered the chart in early December at number five, then slipped to 13 and 17 until the chart froze for the Christmas break.
That chart is based on a Rianz survey of music stores, which fill in forms showing most popular albums. The forms do not say how many units are sold.
Rianz chief executive officer Terence O'Niell-Joyce said the association relied on the "accuracy and honesty of the retail sector" in compiling its chart.
A check of Auckland record shops yesterday found no sign of the Paul Holmes album in bargain bins, but there were hints that the CD was struggling to hold its price.
At Planet Jack, the price had slipped from $34.95 to $19.95, and staff at Marbecks on Queen St said they were also considering a price cut.
By SCOTT MacLEOD