A lot of people have been pointing to leaderboard scores and fan sites that track estimated sales metrics and that's great from an amateur analyst point of view but they should not be viewed as hard data. There are a lot of variables that aren't immediately visible and the end results are sometimes tens of thousands off from the reality.
We actually get to see the sales numbers, play though numbers and consistent purchase history when we do steady streaks of old songs, mixes of old and new songs, collections of singles, etc. We didn't get to 3 years of consistent releases and 70 million plus downloads by accident.
Forum traffic is definitely not a clear indication of what the rest of the RB community is interested in. The core community here on RockBand.com definitely skews more towards the hardcore. Not everyone is looking for new songs every week, not everyone is playing those songs online and not everyone is as informed as the people here on the forums. Forum reaction and actual sales certainly do not always go hand in hand.
The bulk album announcements are a really interesting test case. We made that announcement at a time when we had a large block of albums lined up and we knew that we had them locked into a calendar. That's not always the case. That's part of the reason why we make announcements on a weekly basis rather than monthly. The schedule is often very fluid and it's not uncommon for weeks to shift on short notice. When we have the luxury of having things secured far enough in advance to promote ahead of time we do sometimes promote ahead of schedule. We don't keep cards close to our chest because we like being sneaky, we do it because artists and labels are protective of information and we can't risk announcing something today that may change tomorrow.
Also, regarding the conversion of forum hype to actual popularity, you would think after the hype for Texas Flood reached a fever pitch that it would have shattered all sales records for any DLC released by any game ever and we'd all be Scrooge McDucking it in vaults full of money.
I know that people on the internet aren't necessarily the most trusting people in the world, but it's obviously in our best interest to make sure that the community is happy and that DLC sells well. Like I said before, there's obviously room for improvement in promotions, scheduling, marketing, etc. and I'm in those meetings every week lobbying for the community. But in the meantime, trust that we've got access to more data and more reliable data regarding sales, plays, trends and site traffic than anyone else. We're going on a lot more than guesswork here, and while the results may not always be what the forums would expect (or like to see) we're crunching these numbers to make things as appealing as possible to as many people as possible.