Awards Sales Bumps Fading Fast

Backstage at the ACM Awards; Two Ft. Fred and Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition cover girl Brooklyn Decker.

Once upon a time, Nashville sales execs enjoyed a great amusement ride called the “Post Awards Bump.” Marketers would line up to ride this thrilling machine a few times each year immediately following a high profile televised award show featuring country music. But alas, like the long-defunct Opryland amusement park, the “Sales Bump” ride also seems to have closed up. Yes, things have changed.

For example, last week’s ACM Awards show (4/3) got great reviews for its pacing and strong performance lineup. But nevertheless, according to Nielsen SoundScan, country album sales nudged up an anemic 1% from the previous week. (The Top 75 Current Country rose 2.9%.) Perhaps this is the result of change arriving at retail country music outlets in the form of shrinking shelf space? And although it’s yet to be officially announced, Best Buy, (like Wal-Mart) has agreed to use Anderson Media to rack its stores with music product instead of dealing with the labels directly, a transition which will likely exert added pressure on label margins. [You heard it here first.]

Fortunately, country track sales did light up the consumer scoreboard, posting a gain this week—and really the only overall ACM bump to be found—of 6%. (Top 100 country tracks jumped 17.7% or only 220,261 units.)

But even in today’s world of diminished expectations, there are some individual highlights. Blake Shelton immediately comes to mind. His personality sparkled as new ACM co-host and “Honey Bee” performance stung its way into most viewer’s hearts. Shelton’s Loaded: The Best of… received a modest 15% hike to almost 7,000 units, but his single flew to the top of the country tracks chart boasting more than twice as many units as the No. 2 track—almost 139,000. The track was released on Sunday so that fans could achieve instant gratification and buy it immediately after hearing it on the ACM show. Warner Sr. VP Brand Management & Sales Peter Strickland was on a plane this morning and unavailable for comment, but his Sunday release strategy (tracks usually get released on Tues.) paid off handsomely. And who’s counting, but Shelton also placed six additional tracks on the top 100 country tracks list.

Numerous artists enjoyed album bumps of about 20%, but in real numbers these meant only a few thousand additional units at best. A strange example is Sugarland. They hosted the Mandalay Bay venue during the show and Ms. Nettles got two performance slots. The unexpected result was a 5% drop in album sales, and even the duo’s top selling track “Stuck Like Glue” faltered, sliding 19% to just below 25k units. (Did the Rihanna pairing upset Jennifer’s fan base?)

Zooming out to the larger view, as we close the week of 4/10/2011 all genre album sales are only off 4.1%. Country album sales are in a deeper trough, down 11.7%. However, the year is young and country’s real sales test will develop later in the year when release schedules heat up and efforts to entice consumers begin in earnest.

 

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Category: Awards, Featured, 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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