ZBB This Week’s Top Dog, Next Week Chesney?

Country’s big sales stories are the No. 1, 2 and 3 CDs on this week’s Top 75 Current Country Albums list—Zac Brown Band (153k+), Billy Currington (45k) and Jamey Johnson (30k). ZBB’s last studio album is close to 2.3 million and so this debut’s opening number may seem a bit shy of expectations, but it bin jumped with enough heat to also own the No. 1 spot on the Top Current Albums chart. Based upon Zac’s last CD, which opened with sales of only 44k on 11/18/08, the real measure of success will be the build between this week’s starting gate and the close of the holiday season. By the way, 53k of ZBB’s 153k total sales were digital, about 34%. Also of note is Johnson’s 2-disc set which saw sales slide a  less than normal (for a 2nd week) 52%. Johnson’s tour de force is generating buckets of critical acclaim.

A bit further down the list we see Randy Houser’s No. 8 debut, They Call Me Cadillac with almost 9k units sold.

Checking a few more of country’s vital signs, 818.5k country tracks were sold on the Digital Genre Country 100 chart down slightly form 821k last week. YTD album sales (physical & digital) for both the overall business and for country are starting to align. The overall business is down 13.1% Y/Y, and country, including this week’s debuts is down 13.3%. There was lots of talk this week about the sputtering market for physical CDs, but note that this year, 80% of all country album sales are physical (72% of all-genre sales are physical.) However, despite the heavily tipped physical format scale, the overall numbers are dropping, so the pie is indeed shrinking. (Source: Nielsen SoundScan)

Looking to next week’s numbers there is an increasingly good chance that country music might again occupy the pinnacle on the all-genre album list. After first day sales, insiders are predicting that Kenny Chesney’s new title Hemingway’s Whiskey may scan from 180-200k units which should place him in the exalted “top dog” position.

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Category: Artist, Featured, Label, Sales/Marketing

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

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