Most country fans would not be expected to know that rapper T.I.’s real name is Clifford Harris, but judging by purchases of 248,000 ringtones and close to 1.98 million downloads of “Dirt Road Anthem,” they certainly know Jason Aldean.
So why the comparison? Aldean is in range to beat the all genre ringtone chart record for most consecutive weeks at No. 1 currently held by T.I.
The rapper, currently set to be released from prison on Sept. 29, where he is being held for violating parole, holds the title with 18 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the SoundScan Mastertones Songs chart with his song, “Whatever You like.” Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” is currently in the top spot with 15 weeks at No. 1, a tie with Eminem (“Love The Way You Lie”) and already a record for country music ringtones.
What’s causing Aldean’s ringtone phenomenon and is it mostly country consumers or has it spread wider?
“I call the ringtone a badge of honor,” says manager Chris Parr. It’s the ultimate statement that says who I am, who I identify with and says volumes about younger demos when they are carrying it around. The research says ringtones skew younger. From my programming days, I always used to say, ‘look at the tea leaves. Try to read them and figure out the direction to go.’ Ringtones are just another leaf off that tree, another element. It shows people care and they are passionate about the song and the artist. In terms of crossover influencing these sales, we had more crossover play this year with the Kelly Clarkson duet than with ‘Dirt Road,’ but common sense based on how many weeks it has been No. 1 says it has spread beyond the core country audience.”
Parr, who manages Aldean with Clarence Spalding of Spalding Ent. left CMT mid-year 2007 to work with Aldean.
“It was lucky timing,” remembers Parr modestly. “I was always very passionate about him. Jason is one of those creative people that doesn’t live in the grey, he has a real sense of what works for him and what doesn’t and is very black and white about his art. It makes it more productive when you are working with an artist like that. We have very clear communication. It’s been very exciting, and nice to be able to stretch the boundaries a little bit.”
Ringtone sales peaked a few years ago, but remain a significant revenue stream. Currently on the Top 200 Mastertone chart are numerous country songs and artists. For example looking at the chart for the week ending 8/28/2011 we find Jason, Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton all in the top ten. Ranked RTD (release to date) the five highest selling country songs are Lady A “Need You Now” (968k); Zac Brown Band “Chicken Fried” (845k); Jason Aldean “Big Green Tractor” (766k), “She’s Country” (505k); and Carrie Underwood “Jesus Take The Wheel” (488k). (Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” has scanned about 250,000 RTD.)
Aldean has already set the consecutive weeks at No. 1 record for a country act and he is currently tied in second place with Eminem. However, hot behind him is Lil Wayne who has been in the No. 2 spot for the past three weeks. Can Aldean stay No. 1 this coming week (week ended 9/4/11)? If so he’ll own the No. 2 spot for all genres, with 16 consecutive weeks at No. 1, and be only two weeks away from a tie for No. 1.