Country Sales Slide Continues

How are country album sales doing this year? As the accompanying graph shows, not exactly stellar. After a 38% drop over the previous three years (2007—2009), we are again facing declines. We started 2010 with an 18% YTD gain, but as we near the end of May country album sales have slipped to -5.6%, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The early lead was largely due to a new offering from Lady Antebellum, but since then, the release schedule has not been able to generate enough scans to keep up with last year’s sales totals. And, of course that is exactly what determines overall sales for the format—release schedules. So, what should we expect to happen to our sales stats over the next two months (June/ July)?

During the June/July period for 2009 we had ongoing heavy sales from Taylor Swift’s Fearless and the Hannah Montana soundtrack, each scanning in the 30-45,000 range on a weekly basis. New releases were scarce with the largest being Brad Paisley’s American Saturday Night that debuted on 7/5/09 with about 130k units.

This year’s June/July 2010 lineup shows a Dierks Bentley album dropping June 8, but few others likely to break the 100k debut week mark. We also have ongoing titles from Taylor, Zac Brown Band, Miranda and Carrie that tally in the 10-20k range now each week and will add some momentum. As a result, expect that YTD country album sales will likely continue to slowly dip into the mid-summer. At that time we’ll re-examine the sales horizon for the remainder of the year.

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

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