Weekly Register: A Softer Rate of Descent

Last year, and for the past few years, country albums were very likely to drop from 60-65% in the second week of release. This year’s recent chart behavior shows that a new trend might be developing, lowering that second week drop to somewhere in the range of 50-55%. For example, Carrie Underwood’s week two Blown Away sales dropped 55% this week; Lionel Richie fell 52% in week two, Rascal Flatts fell the furthest dropping 68%, but Lee Brice and Kip Moore slid only 48% and 45% respectively in their second weeks.

In some of the above cases however, the week two numbers were buffered by using some good ole marketing tricks. For example, Carrie Underwood benefited from Mothers Day in week two. Lionel Richie took advantage of Easter and the ACM Awards to prop up week two sales. But Lee and Kip did it the hard way, just leveraging their growing fan bases with a hit track, and no doubt some aggressive pricing.

A few data points doesn’t secure a bona fide trend, but we’ll watch these movements and keep you informed.

this week: 5-13-12

Albums
As our quick-check grid shows, country album sales continue to stay ahead of last year, showing a healthy 8.4% YTD advance. The future shows a plucky release schedule taking shape through early summer. (Click here to see it all.) Projects from artists such as Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Josh Turner and Zac Brown Band, plus many others should help to maintain the season’s early jump over 2011. However, looking back at 2011, May-July saw good performing releases from Eric Church, Blake Shelton, Chris Young, Scotty McCreery, Justin Moore and Brad Paisley. So the competition to stay ahead in 2012 will be heated.

New this week are Top 20 country debuts from Pat Green (No. 16; 6.5k) and Turnpike Troubadours (No. 14; 8k). However, Carrie Underwood (No. 1; 120k), Lionel Richie (No. 2; 71k) and Luke Bryan (No. 3; 26k) do the heavy lifting on this week’s chart.

Last week's numbers: 5-6-12

Tracks
Country tracks are catching on with fans, up 20% for 2012. This new sales opportunity is especially nice if one of your artists has a hit track and a younger, mouse-moving fanbase. Just ask this week’s top 10 wranglers Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood (2), Kip Moore, Jason Aldean, Hunter Hayes, Miranda Lambert and Lee Brice how they feel about the extra clicks. The top five tracks this week each added more than 45k downloads this week and all seem destined to pass into Platinum territory. Take a look: “Springsteen” (816k), “Drunk On You” (858k), “Eyes Open” (779k), “Good Girl” (825k), and “Somethin’ ‘Bout A Truck” (719k).

With country track sales increasing dramatically, it begs the question: will downloads change the way consumers discover new music? For example, I was a 13-hour road hog yesterday and discovered a new entry in the “Shake it Girl” lyric sweepstakes. Luke Bryan’s anthem “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” still retains the title in this award category, but a challenger can be found on the new Lacs album, “Shake It” featuring Big and Rich. This honking, pedal to the metal sonata is the wake up call every trucker needs about halfway through a long haul (actually I was driving a sedan). Is it a big ole country radio summer smash? If friends start posting about it and others start listening on subscription services, like Spotify, could it begin to translate into downloads or impulse buys? Something to watch for…

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Category: Artist, 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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