Do Artists Need A Combined Sales Chart?

Grammy fever has cooled, Valentine’s ardor has calmed and [ouch] Top 75 country album sales are down 32% compared with last week. Adding to the somber report, YTD country album sales are off 12.4%. But wait. Are we missing something?

Let’s consider the concept of combined revenue—money an artist earns from both album and track sales. For an individual artist it seems an obvious measurement to sample, but in years past track revenue was dwarfed by albums and therefore made little difference. (Jay Frank discusses this idea with added detail on page 18 of the newly released Feb./March MusicRow print issue. He says, ”We may soon reach a week…when according to SoundScan, the No. 1 track will eclipse the top album in terms of retail value and profitability.”)

While this week’s data doesn’t completely fulfill Frank’s vision, it’s close. The No. 1 all-genre track, Lady Gaga “Born This Way” (286K downloads) is more profitable and has a higher retail value than the No. 1 country album, Lady Antebellum Need You Now (28k). Here’s how the math works:

Needed: A New “Combined Value” Yardstick?
The dollar value of album and track numbers continues to rebalance in our new industry environment. Therefore, a SoundScan sales chart ranking combined value (and/or wholesale profitability) could prove valuable. Frank adds, “Been saying this is needed for years.” And this writer agrees.

A weekly combined value chart which accounted for the retail value of all tracks and albums sold by a particular artist would be a more accurate measure of success than looking at albums alone.

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Category: Featured, Label, Sales/Marketing

About the Author

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

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