ACM Sales Bump The Lucky Few

Laura Bell Bundy performed "Giddy On Up" on the ACM show.

Einstein’s theory of relativity may have been misinterpreted all these years. Perhaps it’s really about shows such as last week’s Academy of Country Music Awards. In this case, E=MC2 may mean that the the Energy of Sales generated by the show will equal the Music quality times the index of Consumer Confidence.

According to my Einsteinian calculations country should score an 18% weekly sales increase compared with the previous week. Strangely enough (some might groan coincidentally), 18% is also the precise result generated by carefully prescribing to SoundScan math. (Can we say Nobel prize for econometric sales model?—ok maybe not…)

ACM’s high energy three hour show grabbed pretty strong ratings, off slightly from last year, about 6%. That was perhaps due to strong competition from the other networks, including some country-themed programming deliberately aimed at snagging away viewers. The Awards, however peaked with 14 million viewers at 9 p.m.

For some time, Nielsen SoundScan followers have observed that sales increases are not enjoyed evenly across the board by all artists. Certain acts reap the lion’s share of the bounty, and this year’s ACM sales bump continued that trend. Only the top 10 titles on the Current Country 75 scanned over 10k product. Here’s a summary of how they fared:

Lady Antebellum (No. 1, +27%, +17.5k unit)
Zac Brown Band (No. 2, +26%, +6k unit)
Miranda Lambert (No. 3, +105%, +13k unit)
Willie Nelson (No. 4, debut 18k)
Carrie Underwood (No. 5, +54%, +6k unit)
Crazy Heart Sdtrk (No. 6, +200%, +11.5k unit)
Taylor Swift (No. 7, +1%, flat)
Colt Ford (No. 8, debut 14.5k)
Laura Bell Bundy (No. 9, -9%, -1.5k)
Alan Jackson (No. 10, -33%, -5.5k)

The above list separates along the following lines. The two debuts, Willie and Colt were likely helped by robust post-ACM traffic, but were not part of the telecast and therefore not directly effected. Colt Ford also had a free chicken promotion with Zaxbys that gave him a leg up…

Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, the Crazy Heart soundtrack, Zac Brown Band and Carrie Underwood were the big unit increase winners (in that order.) All were part of the broadcast in some way. Gains for Laura Bell Bundy, featured prominently in the first ACM half hour, are harder to gauge since it was the second week for her new CD which normally would be expected to plummet 50-65%. Instead it dropped only 9% which means her performance definitely helped. Alan Jackson, didn’t appear at the show, and suffered this week as consumer’s attention was directed to the bright lights on the silver screen.

Somewhat confusing is Taylor Swift’s 1% increase. This marks the first time we have seen a flat response from her fans after an elaborate TV performance. Indeed, her CD is now mature at 76 weeks and has already sold a whopping 5.8 million copies. However, ZBB’s CD (RTD sales 1.85 million) is 75 weeks and jumped 26%. Swift’s digital track sales were also off as her top ranking track “Today Was A Fairytale” rode down the Country Digital Tracks list to No. 7 with a drop of 18%.

A few shout-outs are in order for ACM performers outside the Top Ten, but who received encouraging sales reactions; Brad Paisley (36%), Luke Bryan (49%), Gloriana (36%) and Joey + Rory (117%).

Digital Only
Of note are digital only releases from The Band Perry (wk 3, 1,600) up 225% due to strong iTunes banner support for the CD and single; and Whitney Duncan (debut 1,800) who performed at MusicRow’s CRS CountryBreakout™ meet and greet last month.

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Category: Awards, Featured, Organizations

About the Author

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

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