Weekly Register: ZBB Rides High As Universal Deal Suffers

As the sweltering summer heat swirls, rising like laser beams on a major country stadium tour stage, the temperature isn’t the only thing that’s hot. Zac Brown Band’s latest offering Uncaged tops both country and all genre charts this week with debut scans of 234k units.

But joy on one side of the industry see-saw can mean pain somewhere else. In this instance, while Atlantic celebrates the hearty start by one of its signature acts, Universal Music Group is having to stave off criticism that its upcoming bid to purchase EMI will unbalance the global music marketplace. To win regulatory approval Universal is virtually being forced to hack off its own body parts to slim its hefty footprint. Assets being rumored for the scalpel include Virgin UK and/or US plus EMI Classics. This increasingly costly deal could easily extend into October before being resolved.

And then there is the disturbing news that, according to Nielsen SoundScan, catalog albums are outselling current ones. During the first six months of 2012, 76.6 million catalog albums bested 73.9 million currents. Nielsen analyst David Bakula cites lower prices on catalog material ($5.99—$7.99) for the unsettling occurrence.

The Cash Drawer
It ought to be Zac Brown’s birthday today, because country fans sure left a plethora of presents on his musical doorstep. According to the ever vigilant Neal Spielberg, of Spielberg Entertainment, “ZBB debuts at No. 1 on the Top 200 albums chart, Top digital albums and Top country albums. Adding to the dominance is his No. 1 on the country catalog chart with Foundation and No. 6 Pass the Jar, selling 14K and 5.2K respectively. Add in You Get What You Give, rising to No. 6 country (17k) and it adds up to a whole lot of ZBB. 270K to be exact, giving ZBB 26% of country albums sales this week.”

Thanks Mr. Spielberg. As they say on the six o’clock news, “That sums it up nicely.” Kudos to Zac, Atlantic and the entire ZBB team. And special thanks as well to Amazon and iTunes whose debut week price wars and overall country music sales were responsible for much of the week’s good news.

Also a nicely placed debut in the Warner Music camp is the latest from Hank Williams Jr. Old School New Rules enters the chart at No. 4 with sales over 25k.

All that debut energy boosts the weekly country album tally into the million+ range. Even the Top 75 Country Current list broke 600k this week and as our Weekly Register grid shows, country album sales (week ended 7/15/12) are now up a healthy 6%!

TrackingTheTracks!
As predicted last week, Little Big Town’s “Pontoon” easily glided into Gold territory while remaining at the top of the Digital Genre Country tracks chart for a second week with downloads over 84k. And, we now know to expect the vocal quartet’s next studio album, Tornado, on Sept. 11. But the week belongs to ZBB. So we must also note that the artist with the most unique hat in country music placed FIVE tracks in the Top 30!

Do you know how many country tracks get downloaded each week on average? This week country downloaded 3.391 million tracks and we have a YTD total (28 weeks) of 90.386 million or an average of 3.23 million downloads per week.

See you next week!

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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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