It lacked the pomp and glamour of the Kentucky Derby or the firery roar of the Daytona 500, but the 2012 Sales Year has now officially begun. But I’m not complaining, because it always starts quietly. Actually the year doesn’t get tightly wound until the last 6 weeks of the calendar year when the holidays induce the mouse-click-mania which still accounts for an enormous percentage of country’s annual sales. In fact, during 2011, country music shifted over 25% of its total album sales during the final two months!
But there are some promising signs among this year’s early album data as we carefully look over the wealth of info collected by the venerable folks at Nielsen SoundScan. Most notably, country ends Jan. 2012 with a 4.7% lead in YTD album sales over 2011 and a total of 2.621 million units. Helping to move the needle were No. 1 and No. 2 country album chart debuts this week from Tim McGraw (No. 1; 68k) and Kellie Pickler (No. 2; 27k).
To add a pinch of perspective, we should note that in 2010 Lady Antebellum released Need You Now during the last week of January and debuted with 481k units for a YTD total of 2.770 million. If we use that as a baseline, this year’s sales would be down 5.3%. But however you chose to view things, it remains early in the year and too soon for meaningful projections, except with regard to release schedules, which are also still pretty vague. Next up on our CD country radar is Home from Dierks Bentley which debuts Feb. 7.
The percentage of country albums sold as digital downloads continues to rise. YTD 2012 about 27% of the total albums were purchased as downloads which shows an increase over last year when the digital percentage at this time was about 23.5%. Debut week digital sales are usually higher than the eventual average. For example this week: Tim McGraw’s disc sales were 34% digital, and Kellie Pickler’s were 33%.
Filling out the Top 5 country album sales for the week are Luke Bryan (No. 3; 16k), Lady Antebellum (No. 4; 15k), and Jason Aldean (No. 5; 13k).
The world of tracks continues to be a goldmine for the circle of artists with mouse-clicking fans. For example, nestled in the Top 20 tracks of the Digital Genre Country Top 100, we find 17 different artists with total Top 20 sales of 649,914 units or a little in excess of 50% of the entire Top 100 country digital tracks list. Another way to illustrate the space between the haves and have-nots is to show that this week, Toby Keith, Luke Bryan and Taylor Swift account for almost 23.41% of the entire Top 100 country track sales!
So a little like the groundhog who comes out to assess winter and maybe see his shadow, let’s settle back in, because it’s too early for predictions and such. We’ll take a peek in a few weeks to see if we see Dierks’ sales shadow…
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