Sales Report: Blame It On Taylor And Sugarland

Whooooa! Are you feeling dizzy from the slide this week? 

As a quick look at our graph shows, country YTD sales tumbled from 9.3% ahead last week to a more modest 5.6% now. Why?

It’s all Taylor Swift’s fault. And Sugarland.  🙂

If Taylor hadn’t sold over a million albums during the same week last year, and Sugarland almost 90k (debuted the week before) then country sales wouldn’t have had a such a high bar to be measured against today. (Although, last year we all cheered because Taylor’s incredible debut was such a country sales game changer.)

So here’s how it all came down. This week we had Top 10 debuts from Toby Keith (No. 1; 69k), Vince Gill (No. 4; 21k+) and the Casey Donahew Band (No. 10; 11k+; 64% digital).

Shifting > 15k units was Scotty McCreery (No. 2; 42k), Lady Antebellum (No. 3; 31k), Jason Aldean (No. 5; 18k), Lauren Alaina (No. 6; 16k+) and Luke Bryan (No. 7; 15k+). Total country album sales for the week were, according to Nielsen SoundScan, about 742k. Last year’s total sales for the week ended 10/31/10 were 1.72 million!!!

It’s not that hard to figure out what just happened. More complex is trying to calculate what will happen between now and the end of the year. To end the year flat, we must sell 11.8 million additional albums over the remaining nine weeks. That equates to an average of 1.311 million albums per week. Powerhouse releases yet to arrive include Miranda Lambert next week, a Rascal Flatts Live edition and a Taylor Swift live edition. Added sales momentum will be felt from CMA and ACA Awards exposure, plus the holiday lift, but it’s going to be pretty hard to match that 1.3 million per week number. So I’m saying it now, in print, I predict country will end up flat or lower for 2011.

Tracking
The brief tracks story shows country downloading 120 million tracks YTD and about 2.16 million this past week. Congratulations to Toby the Keith who vanquished all other tracks on the country list this week, matching his No. 1 album performance. His track “Red Solo Cup” downloaded about 61k copies. The next two closest tracks were Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You” (46k) and Luke Bryan’s “I Don’t Want This Night To End” (41k).

Check back next week, same channel, same station…

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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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