Country Sales: 4th Quarter Futures

Getting Graphic About Sales
The above graph is a week-by-week tally of how the YTD Country sales units compare with the previous year.

The blue bars show YTD % (year-to-date) change for 2010 compared with 2009; and the green bars show 2011 compared with 2010. Actual quarterly sales numbers (source: Nielsen SoundScan) are below the graph. For example at the end of Q1 2011 country was down about 13%. By Q2 2011 the deficit was only about 1%.

For the week ended 10-2-11 country album sales (physical and digital) are a healthy 9% ahead of last year. (All-genre sales are up 3.4%.) However, based upon the upcoming release schedules (compared with last year) our best guess is that we will start to see the green bar shrink in coming weeks. Will it fall into negative territory? Let’s hope not…

Looked at another way, we need to add about 15 million units over the next 13 weeks or about 1.54 million units every week. (Putting the 1.54 million in perspective, country album sales this past week totaled about 660,000.)

The Current Week’s Tally
The past week’s album sales were led by Lady Antebellum’s new release (No. 1; 75k) now in its third week. Jason Aldean continues to bust out of sales bins earning a No. 2 position after 48 weeks shifting almost 21k units for the week. Brantley Gilbert, who co-wrote Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” holds the No. 3 spot in his third week with sales of about 20k.

New on the chart this week is a debut from Curb’s LeAnn Rimes at No. 7 scanning about 12k units (45% were digital).

Last week’s article about TEA (track equivalent albums) flushed out some good responses. Most of which tried to point out that track sales are not as profitable as album sales. Perhaps that is true when viewed across the traditional record label budget and sales structure. But that structure is evolving rapidly. This year country fans have already purchased 111 million country tracks with a value of about $140 million dollars which is equivalent to about 14 million albums!!!! (Any label that doesn’t care about its tracks income, please send it to me, I’ll be happy to bank it in my account and even pay the proper royalties on the label’s behalf.)

On this week’s Digital Genre Country tracks list Blake Shelton rides the roost with “God Gave Me You” churning over 57k paid downloads. The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young” remains the second best selling track moving almost 43,000 units and Rodney Atkins “Take A Back Road,” also deserves mention holding the No. 3 position with over 39k downloads.

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About the Author

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

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