Weekly Register: ‘Tornado’ Triumphs While YTD Sales Dip

Little Big Town’s Tornado easily blows onto the top spot of the country album charts this week with scans of almost 113k according to Nielsen Soundscan. Artistically, Tornado may be the vocal quartet’s best work since its remarkable 2008 Equity Records outing, The Road To Here. For comparison purposes, the group’s previous disc The Reason Why debuted 8-29-2010 with scans of 42k. By all measures, this week’s showing is a tour de force. And based upon the music, which these ears have been enjoying for a few weeks now, this new LBT set should benefit from WOM (word of mouth) throughout the holiday season.

But alas, LBT’s triumph was not enough to brace country YTD album sales from heading into negative territory, -1.4%! Exactly one year ago Lady A unleashed Own The Night with scans of (348k), more scans than this week’s entire Top Current 75 chart (327k), even including the LBT debut.

Kix Brooks landed inside the Top 10 with his debut this week, New To This Town (No. 10; 6.5k). Other debuts included Chris Knight (No. 25; 2.7k) and Idol alum Bucky Covington (No. 30; 2k).

Expect country’s YTD album numbers to head deeper into negative territory for the next few weeks. (Last year we also had a 197k debut from Scotty McCreery on 10/9/2011). However, the 2012 release schedule starts to shift gears soon with upcoming projects from power hitters Jason Aldean (10/16) and Taylor Swift (10/22), plus stocking stuffer holiday sets from Blake Shelton, Scotty McCreery and Lady Antebellum. For a full listing click here.

For those year-end prediction junkies, you can either read the tea leaves or wait and see how the Aldean and Swift CDs fare. As for this prognosticator, I’m seeing a positive finish shaping up…

Tracking The Sales
Tackling tracks is once again mostly about Ms. Swift who owns the No. 1 and No. 2 titles on this week’s Digital Genre Country tracks list. “We Are Never Ever…” was downloaded over 226k times for a RTD total of almost 1.7 million in five weeks! “Ronan” earned 116k credit card clicks for two-week RTD total of 327k. Very impressive. Those two Swift tracks equal 22% of the entire 100 track list. And lest we get called out by the affable Big Machine sales department, please note, that 22% doesn’t even include Swift’s six additional tracks included on the list.

Tracks are a bright spot this year, up 6% for all-genre and up 12.3% for country and the trend is expected to continue through the holiday season.

So as the year draws to a close, we’ll cross our fingers for the album numbers and good showings from the new offerings, while cheering as we break new records for  country track sales. However, when the bean counters hunker down to assess the year-end financial results, they will be less concerned with units sold and pay more attention to total revenue and profits. SoundScan numbers and percentages up and down tend to camouflage those dollar metrics because they don’t take into account pricing and margin.

Stay tuned...


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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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