Weekly Register: The Crystal Ball Didn’t See That One!

The country music pulse is beating rapidly this week.

CMA’s MusicFest, the CMT Awards and a city swarming with press and visitors from all over the world have turned up the heat…and the fun!

Closer to the sales beat, Sony announced it has re-signed superstar Kenny Chesney and will move him to his own imprint, Blue Chair Records, just in time for his June 19 new album release, Welcome To The Fishbowl. In the process BNA Records, Chesney’s longtime home was retired with all staff and artists moved to Sony’s Columbia Nashville imprint.

Also noteworthy this week was the groundbreaking arrangement between Big Machine and Clear Channel which effectively creates a new artist/label revenue stream generated from terrestrial radio airplay. At the same time it reshuffles the royalty deck with respect to digital radio, redefining the tariff into a form that allows the digital radio industry to grow, profit and ultimately contribute even more money into the music royalty pot. Will this eventually lead to the American rights groups being able to collect reciprocal sound performance royalties from their terrestrial overseas collection counterparts? Hopefully. This agreement represents a major forward move on the path to creating a healthy future for the music industry and radio. Congrats to both parties. Perhaps one day we’ll be measuring monthly digital royalty payments in the same way we look at Nielsen SoundScan-generated sales numbers today. Wow! Didn’t see that one coming in my crystal ball, did you?

Albums
Our sales report this week pales in comparison to all the happenings listed above, but hopefully some of those events will also spur additional scans in the weeks to follow. Album sales suffered slightly for both all-genre and country compared with last week. Most other key indicators in our weekly table remained stable. The Current Country Top 75 again failed to break the 300k mark for a second consecutive week. Debuts included Opus Collection from Johnny Cash (No. 6; 11k) and Given from Texan Wade Bowen on BNA, (No. 9; 9k). Bowen album purchases were 77% in digital format.

Carrie Underwood maintained her top spot, in her fifth week, easing back to a weekly total of almost 32k and a RTD (release-to-date) of 517k. Luke Bryan, whose career is as hot as his smile, enjoys the No. 2 spot in this, his 42nd week. Luke’s Tailgates and Tanlines scanned over 24k this week for a RTD of 1.124 million. Filling out the Top Ten Current Country Albums for this week ended 6-3-12 are Lionel Richie, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Johnny Cash, Kip Moore, Lee Brice, Wade Bowen and Lady Antebellum.

Tracks
Luke, Eric, Kip, Carrie and Hunter Hayes own the first five spots on the country tracks chart this week. Luke’s “Drunk On You” sold over 101k downloads. Church, in the No. 2 position with “Springsteen” downloaded almost 79k. Country tracks are up 17% YTD over last year and when coupled with album sales (up 6% YTD) the numbers show some real strength for country artists at the cash register. It also shows that country consumers, in increasing numbers, are using the mouse to click their way to new music. This evolution has likely been sped up by the difficulty of finding physical albums in the marketplace. Have you walked into a Target or Walmart lately? Looked for your favorite album? Then you know what I mean. The music racks are probably further in the back than you remember and a whole lot smaller.

Coming up next week we’ll see some new entries from Alan Jackson, Colt Ford and Jana Kramer. We should also feel some lift from the CMT Awards and the MusicFest crowd…

As usual, post your Weekly Register comments below, tweet ‘em out or send me a note, and thanks for reading…

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Category: Artist, Featured, Label, Sales/Marketing

About the Author

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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