Country Sales Brace For Roller Coaster Ride

Think of this week’s Nielsen SoundScan results as a giant coaster ride. The cold steel restraint has pushed you against the seat back and as the car slowly “click clicks” up the steep first curve you calm your stomach saying, “Hey, I’m going to be fine.”

Country music album sales are up a healthy 14.9% YTD for the week ended 1/16/2011. But in two weeks our coaster car will summit the climb and then…. all hell breaks loose.

Yes, it was the week of 1/31/2010 when Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now debuted with 481,000 units. And by 2/28/10 it had scanned about 1.16 million! But where is our half million unit debut for this year? Answer: it already debuted fourth quarter last year when we threw every artist that could get shelf space into the sales mix. And hence the roller coaster analogy, because starting the last week of January, that nice 14.9% increase is going to head downhill like a speeding Coney Island coaster about to fly off the track!

In the meantime, Country Strong is sweetening the opening weeks of 2011.The official cinematic soundtrack sold over 28k units this week landing in the No. 2 spot on the Top Current Country album chart (total sales after 12 weeks is 100,000). Also related to the film is Country Strong (More Music From the Motion Picture) which moved over 15k units for a No. 5 chart position.

Steel Magnolia’s digital-only album debut also performed nicely, lagging the Paltrow/McGraw epic by only a few hundred units and earning it a No. 3 place.

The media savvy Bellamy Brothers immediately tried to connect Spear's latest to their classic, "If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body, Would You Hold It Against Me." However, even the most rabid Bellamy fans will have to admit that the production trio of Shellback, Dr. Luke and Max Martin have created a highly original swirling pop pastry.

As 2010 closed we saw powerhouse sales from Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Lady A, Rascal Flatts, ZBB and a few others, but now in the stark January chill, sales have slowed. A few weeks ago at the end of the holidays (12/26/2010) the Top Current Country 75 chart saw sales of 1.467 million units. But this week’s post holiday chart shifted only about 351k. Filling out the Top 5 positions this week are Taylor Swift at No. 1 with sales of over 35k and Jason Aldean sliding slightly to No. 4 with about 25k units.

Digital Track Sales & FACToids
Taylor Swift tops the country tracks list with “Back To December” downloading over 60k times. But over on the all genre Digital Tracks chart Britney Spears vaults to the top with a 411k debut of her new single, “Hold It Against Me.” The media savvy Bellamy Brothers immediately tried to connect the song’s hook to their classic, “If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body, Would You Hold It Against Me.” However, even the most rabid Bellamy fans will have to admit that the production trio of Shellback, Dr. Luke and Max Martin have created a highly original swirling pop pastry.

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About the Author

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

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