Who Wins the 2010 Current Country Album Sales Sweepstakes?
Swift or Lady A? Capitol Nashville or Big Machine?
There are so many ways to dissect the year’s sales events. But one important measurement of popularity is tied to current album sales. This is not to say that catalog sales are not an important revenue stream, but, according to Nielsen SoundScan, 58% of all album purchases in 2010 were current product.
The current country album sales top 200 included sales of 24.8 million units or 56% of all country sales, a reliable sample that matches well with the overall all-genre current percentage. (Source: Nielsen SoundScan YTD Current Country Albums; Wk. ending 1/02/2011)
1. Taylor Swift 15.52%
2. Lady A 15.51%
3. Zac Brown Band 7.36%
The Top 200 data shows a virtual draw between Taylor Swift and Lady A, with respect to total current sales during 2010— with each artist selling a total of about 3.84 million album units. (Swift actually beat Lady A by about 1,000 units or a tiny .01%)
Lady A’s Top 200 titles included an iTunes Session and a Christmas special plus the trio’s two albums. Swift logged her units solely from Speak Now and Fearless. Lady A however, had the highest selling album—Need You Now—which passed the 3 million mark. Swift, whose CD debuted much later in the year almost caught the Trio, but was No. 2 in this metric with 2.96 million. (Recent sales levels assure it won’t be long before sales of Speak Now pass Need You Now.)
The third largest selling act was Zac Brown Band with 1.82 million units, earned from five different projects.
Lonely At The Top
The sales gap between country’s have and have-nots continues to widen. Swift, Lady A and ZBB for example account for almost 38.5% of the Top 200 current total units. A phenomenally high weighting.
How many individual current albums sold Gold (over 500,000 units) or higher? Eleven. Taylor and ZBB each got two of the eleven spots. The remaining 7 were earned by Lady A, Sugarland, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney and Rascal Flatts.
1. Capitol Nashville 22.66%
2. Big Machine 17.78%
3. Atlantic 7.77%
4. Arista Nashville 6.97%
When tallying the current country album share by label, Capitol Nashville zooms to the top of the list by a comfortable margin with 22.66% of the total 24.8 million current units or 5.62 million. Capitol Nashville’s strong roster this past year included Lady A, Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, Luke Bryan and more. Big Machine followed with 17.78% share or 4.41 million with Ms. Swift and Rascal Flatts doing the heavy lifting in the checkout lines. Big Machine’s mid-year Flatts signing proved quite strategic since the album shifted over 545k units.
Atlantic cultivated its ZBB franchise to get third place with 7.77% or 1.93 million units. Arista Nashville took fourth with 6.97% or 1.73 million units, courtesy of efforts from Carrie Underwood, Alan Jackson, newcomer Jerrod Niemann and stalwart Brad Paisley.
Who were 2010s hottest selling acts in country music? Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum and Zac Brown Band.
Note: Albums on the chart for up to 18 months are deemed current by SoundScan. They can remain current after 18 weeks for two reasons: having a current radio single or selling in the upper half of the chart.
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