Q1 Country Album Sales Down 13%

Q1 2011 YTD Digital/Physical Album Sales. (Source: Nielsen SoundScan)

Country music sales results for the first quarter of 2011 are now complete and while the picture isn’t pretty, there are bright spots and some hopeful signs for later in the year.

Framing the Big Picture
According to Nielsen SoundScan, the country sales picture is suffering more than the all-genre industry by percentage, and its fans seem slower to adopt and adapt to buying digital music. This is especially inconvenient, since many of the retailers that country has traditionally depended upon to service its physical customers, are systematically shrinking shelf space and physical inventory. Other forms of music went through this transition in previous years when as a result country outperformed the overall industry, but unfortunately, it is now country music’s turn to navigate.

For the week ending 4/3/2011: All genre album sales (physical and digital) are down 5.1% YTD while country is down 13%. All genre digital album sales are tracking at 32% YTD of total album sales. For country the number is a lower 19.7%.

Country Specific
Sales rely upon release schedules, and Q1-11 has been CD-lite with regard to major releases from Nashville. For example, this week’s Top Ten Current Country titles were all released prior to 2011 except for the recent projects from Sara Evans and Aaron Lewis. The top selling CDs each week continue to be Jason Aldean, Zac Brown Band, Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum.

Next week’s numbers should receive added love from consumers motivated by last Sunday evening’s ACM Awards (4/3). (SoundScan results are logged from Monday through Sunday.)

The top 100 Digital Genre Country tracks list is heating up with country selling over 1.1 million downloads this week. Thompson Square (“Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?;” 54,000 units) and Zac Brown Band (“Colder Weather”; 53,000 units) are in the No. 1 and 2 spots respectively. Filling out the Top 5 are Jason Aldean w/Kelly Clarkson (“Don’t You Wanna Stay”; 40,000), Sara Evans (“A Little Bit Stronger”; 38,000), and Rascal Flatts (“I Won’t Let Go”; 37,000).



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

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