Country’s Album TEA Party

The largest and final sales quarter of 2011 is almost upon us and the list of planned album releases is mostly revealed (except for a few possible last minute surprises).

The above graph is intended to help readers quickly grasp how album sales are trending. Last week for example (week ended 9-18-11), country hit its highest YTD gain of the year showing an increase of 9.8%.

This week the YTD country number has ebbed slightly to 9.6%. (Last year for the week ended 9/19/2010 country was ahead 4.5%.) Unlike last year’s jam packed release schedule, the upcoming album calendar doesn’t seem to have as many blockbuster artists as last year. Lady Antebellum recently hit stores with first week numbers of 347k and LeAnn Rimes’ new set was released this week. Upcoming product is due over the next few months from Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, Martina McBride, Toby Keith, Vince Gill and Miranda Lambert. Of special note will be the just announced Nov. 21 release of a special CD/DVD live set from Taylor Swift.

Turning Tracks Into TEA (track equivalent albums)
For 2011, digital country track downloads YTD total 109 million. (Unfortunately Nielsen Soundscan did not release this number for 2010.) Calculating TEA albums (10 tracks = 1 album) country track sales account for about 10.9 million more albums. YTD country album sales for 2011 total 28.1 million through the week ended 9/25/11; so if one adds the 10.9 million TEA sales it would equate to almost a 40% increase!

Why do we still measure country sales only in terms of digital and physical albums? What about tracks? Business is a lot better than the graph at the top of the page would have you believe, if you don’t ignore track sales…

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Category: Artist, Featured, Label, Sales/Marketing, Weekend

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

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