Country Sales: All That Downloads Is Not Gold

Total country digital tracks was not available at this time last year which explains the actual sales number in the grid—34.7 million. Those numbers became available last year in mid-April and we will begin using the percentages at that time.


In The Viewfinder
Before we dissect some of this week’s sales metrics, let’s consider some of the recent industry talk which buoyantly notes that digital sales are up for both country music and the industry overall. And that is true. A brief glance at the grid above shows increasing numbers of consumers are making the transition from physical to digital.

However, all that downloads is not gold. Witness last week’s Google Play sale which was responsible for selling about 90,000 digital units of Lady Antebellum’s album for 25¢. Yes, that’s not a typo, just two thin dimes and a nickel for the entire album—not enough to satisfy even half the mechanical royalty. But don’t blame the act or the label, this sale was a retail ploy to draw attention to a new digital store. And it made digital sales look good. The point here is that SoundScan measures units, but we also need to reflect upon pricing, revenues and profits.

While the Google sale may be a one-off event, wholesale album prices are now averaging below $7 whereas a few years ago they were $11.99 and up. That difference translates to weaker revenues and profits and ultimately fewer major labels. The RIAA’s retail sales measurements show the U.S. industry falling from over $14.6 billion in 1999 to under $6.85 billion in 2010.

No. 1 Country Track for 4 consecutive weeks.

And Now Highlights From The Previous Week…
You’d never know that Capitol Nashville was about to be swallowed up this summer, based upon its stellar chart performance, and according to Nielsen SoundScan. The scrappy label has three of the Top 5 spots on this week’s country album chart; Luke Bryan (No. 1, 17k); Lady Antebellum (No. 3, 13k) and Eric Church (No. 4, 11k). Filling in the gaps are Jason Aldean (No. 2, 14k) and The Band Perry (No. 5, 9k). Shooter Jennings’ Family Man debut landed at No. 10 with about 8k in sales.

Overall, the Top Current Country Album 75 delivered one of its weakest performances in the history of SoundScan with the entire Top 75 totaling about 256k. [ouch!].

Happily, there’s more joy on the Digital Genre Country tracks chart. Carrie’s “Good Girl” remains atop the list for its fourth consecutive week with about 70k downloads and RTD total of over 360k. Rascal Flatts storms the list this week with “Changed” which scanned over 57k units to land in the No. 2 position. Making up the remainder of the Top Ten Nos. 3-10 are: Lee Brice, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Kip Moore, Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Toby Keith.

Total country track sales YTD now equals 34.691 million which equates to about 3.47 million additional TEA album units. (TEA=track equivalent albums; 10 tracks =1 album).

As always upcoming album releases can be found here. New and upcoming projects include Casey James (3/20), Lionel Richie (3/27), Rascal Flatts (4/3), Kip Moore (4/27), Carrie Underwood (5/1), Colt Ford (6/5) and Kenny Chesney (6/19).


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Category: Featured, Label, Sales/Marketing

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Journalist, entrepreneur, tech-a-phile, MusicRow magazine founder, lives in Nashville, TN. Twitter him @davidmross or read his non-music industry musings at Secrets Of The List

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