Lady A Grabs Biggest Slice

Momentum for Country YTD album sales stumbled this week—despite two debuts—as the format’s gain over last year slipped from 15% to 13%. Alan Jackson’s Freight Train landed at No. 2 on the Current Country Top 75, according to Nielsen Soundscan, with sales slightly over 72k. Also new this week was Gretchen Wilson’s Redneck Records debut, I Got your Country Right Here which scanned close to 15k units for a No. 6 chart position.

Top Selling 2010 Country Albums As Percentage of Total Country Sales

Unfortunately, this week’s two debuts (total of 87k units) were not enough to balance debuts last year from Keith Urban (172k) and Rodney Atkins (34k) which more than doubled the added units this year.

The consolidation trend in recent years has given rise to an endless parade of sayings such as “flat is the new up,” “doing more with less,” “circling the wagons,” etc. Today’s graph sheds some enlightenment on why standing inside the “shrinking circle of profits” is becoming ever more challenging. Through the week of 4/4/2010 total country sales are 10,368,000 units. This includes current, catalog and digital albums.

Lady Antebellum’s latest CD accounts for 16% of that total and the trio’s catalog title sold an additional 2%. The next highest selling country title YTD was Taylor Swift’s Fearless which claims about 4% of the year’s total. (For simplification we are only looking at the top 6 selling titles YTD, but Swift’s total percentage would be boosted by catalog sales.) Moving one title lower on the sales list highlights the Zac Brown Band with 3% of this year’s country sales. Using this thumbnail sketch, we find that the top three selling titles account for a whopping 23% of total country sales. The top selling act, Lady A, earns 18% or almost one out of every five country CDs sold.

Clearly, it’s a blessing—for the artist and their label—to have an album wringing a disproportionally high share of sales out of the marketplace. But with respect to the overall industry and format—not so much. Lady A is to be applauded for its accomplishment, and the rest of town should be encouraged to try harder.


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Category: Artist, Featured, Label

About the Author

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

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