Sales Magic Might Turn Deficit

This week the smart money is on the Trickster who says, “Watch my magic wand and you’ll see the current country music album sales deficit of 11.8% rise back up to flat or even positive when the revelers welcome 2011.” Considering the scheduled torrent of superstar product, the feat may be more treat than trick. But I digress, let’s return to the present…

Country album sales were off again this week—2%—despite the debut of Blake Shelton’s second six pak, All About Tonight, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Blake’s offering scanned over 32,000 units, 8,000 of which were digital albums (25%). The set’s title track, also debuting this week, was downloaded over 27,000 times, placing it at No. 9 on the digital genre country tracks chart. (At the top of the same chart was Taylor Swift’s current new single, “Mine” which was downloaded over 176,000 times and Zac Brown Band debuted “As She’s Walking Away” at No. 7 downloading over 29k copies.) Shelton’s first six-pak on March 7 was driven by “Hillbilly Bone” and sold about 71k its first week.

All genre Album sales hit a new SoundScan-era record low this week of 4.95 million units, the lowest since the bar code stat keeper began tracking in 1991. Country’s Top 75 current albums chart is also showing the decline, routinely falling below the 300k mark. (Week ended 8/15=258k; week ended 8/8=241k.) At some point, shrinking album sales will cause the radio promotion cost equation to be reconfigured, even for country music. But the relationship between airplay and sales remains powerful. A quick glance at the many similarities between the top of the SS digital country tracks chart and the BDS country airplay list tell the tale.

Trace Adkins’ newest is now on shelves, and next week Little Big Town and the Randy Rogers Band will become available inventory. That’s all for now…

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

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