This pop rock masterpiece almost went unheard, as the record label didn’t hear a hit and held up its release. Mann bought back the rights and released it herself online, making it one of the first ever albums to find success with strictly digital distribution. Eventually she expanded the release to retail stores (how quaint that seems now) and the album went on to sell more than 200,000 copies.
Best Songwriters – #9 – Aimee Mann
Aimee Mann is the artist on this list who earns the “most improved” designation. If you’d told me that the Mann of ‘Til Tuesday and her first solo album would grow into one of the most assured, mature and emotionally effective songwriters I know, I would have been highly skeptical.
But around the release of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, largely inspired by Mann’s music, her albums took a turn toward the sublime. Her Bachelor No. 2, which featured several of those Magnolia tracks, was confident, dramatic and stylistically diverse — a statement record by a woman nobody expected to make a statement.
The Magnolia soundtrack changed Aimee Mann’s career. Saddled by a record company that refused to release her third solo album because it wasn’t commercial enough, she was suddenly in a position to buy back the rights to that album and release it herself.
So that’s what she did, forming Superego Records and selling that album, Bachelor No. 2, through her own Web site. Critical reception was very strong and sales were brisk enough that she eventually was able to get distribution in record stores. She’s released every album since through her label, becoming a poster child for successful self-distribution.