Ghosts and goblins will no doubt be out in force this weekend, but hopefully they’ll also drive consumers into their favorite stores to add Halloween music to their trick or treat treasure bags. Country sales gained momentum for the week ended 10/25/09 with debuts from Tim McGraw and Lyle Lovett who perhaps helped several other Top 10 titles to show some gains as well. According to Nielsen SoundScan a division of The Nielsen Company, McGraw topped country sales with over 136k units (12% digital), enough scans to also earn the Curb superstar a No. 2 position on the Top Current Albums all genre list. (McGraw’s last studio release generated first week sales of 325k in April 2007.) Other Current Country debuts included the irrepressible Lyle Lovett at No. 8 with almost 16k units (45% digital) and duo Bomshel which turned about 6,000 units (18% digital), enough to score No. 24.
2009 Country sales continue to keep pace with 2008, however the remaining nine weeks will pose challenges, for sure. Last year during Nov. we saw debuts from Toby Keith (91k), Rascal Flatts (89k), Brad Paisley (53k), Zac Brown Band (43k) and Trace Adkins (37k). Plus a sophmore debut from Taylor Swift that debuted with 592k units and passed the million unit mark as Nov. ended. That’s some stiff competition for this year’s Nov. debuts which will include an updated Fearless package from Swift and new releases from Carrie Underwood and Josh Turner.
The current year’s top selling country albums include Swift (1.9 million), Hannah Montana (1.6 million), Rascal Flatts (1 million) and Zac Brown Band (918k). Rascal Flatts’ Unstoppable holds the 2009 record for the largest first week country sales with 351k units sold. Of that 351k, 58k were digital—another record!
The big picture continues to show overall all-genre album sales down about 14% and country music sales YTD down a trim 1.5%. Unfortunately, based upon the release discussion above, it seems reasonable to expect the country stat will fall a bit deeper into negative territory by year end.