Country Sales Increase (A Little)

Happily, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the Top 75 Current Country albums for the week ending 1/25/09 bounced upward 8% over the previous week, without relying on new debut releases. Big Machine continued to control about 27% of that market share based mostly upon sales from its flagship femme, Taylor Swift. Despite the increase this week, however, Top 75 Country’s physical and digital album sales still remained under the 300k level hitting a tepid 294,065 units. Country’s Top 5 and the only CDs to sell above 10k each were Taylor Swift Fearless (62,575) and Taylor Swift (14,407); Sugarland (14,156); Zac Brown Band (13,256) and Darius Rucker (11,137). Sugar Hill newcomers Joey & Rory moved up to No. 15 adding 4,616 units this week to their RTD (release to date) total of 77,030.

Overall industry sales also grew week over week by about 9.1% and Taylor Swift added a ninth consecutive week to her well deserved No. 1 Top 200 reign. Year to date, digital albums and tracks are up 28.9% and 22.6% respectively, although the struggling CD is down 19.7% vs. last year. The demise of the CD is accelerating, likely due to a number of factors including shrinking shelf space. Some might say that the sharp drop is fueled by a self-fulfilling, but questionable, prophecy that consumers no longer want to purchase their music in the shiny disc format. Based upon the numbers country consumers are still only downloading about 7.5% of their country album purchases compared with about 17% for overall music.

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David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. [email protected]

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