Weekly Register: Awards Bump Becomes A Minor Convexity

As the dust settles on the post CMA Awards SoundScan numbers and one of the most contested Presidential elections in history, it’s hard to assign perspective. Fortunately, in this space we only have to deal with the former event and can leave the latter to pundits better suited to that pursuit.

The 46th CMA Awards reaped its lowest ever ratings last week due to events such as the power blackout in New York and New Jersey, the program’s move to Thursday night and perhaps somewhat due to the overall erosion of network TV audiences. Regardless, it still won the evening for ABC and creatively was extremely successful. But how did it reflect at the cash register?

The Awards were a major force in the week’s sales, but one also has to allow for the fact that Taylor Swift’s 1.2 million unit album launch happened the week before the show, (and luckily pre-hurricane Sandy). Swift’s 72% post-launch drop this week clouds our numbers giving the post-awards country album sales a highly unusual week over week drop of 40%. However, if we compare this post-awards week (1.165 million country albums) with two weeks ago (1.054 million) then country sales are up about 10.5%. Still tepid, especially when you consider Swift’s week two sales of 344k are in the post show numbers.

Happily the Awards show did propel some artists to phat week/week percentage gains. But those numbers can also be misleading. For example, Eric Church jumped 121%, but actually gained only 12,371 units. Blake Shelton’s Red River Blue spiked 179% which equates to 5,389 additional sales units; Luke Bryan saw an 87% uptick on 11,233 additional sales. Considering the costs involved in putting an artist and band on the show, these increases are less joyous than the percentages would indicate. The Top 5 album gainers by percentage (all Awards performers) were Miranda Lambert +194%, Thompson Square +184%, Blake Shelton 179%, Brad Paisley +153% and Eric Church +121%.

Also noteworthy in the album department was a debut from Toby Keith (he did not appear on the Awards show) at No. 3 with over 48k units. (Keith’s last debut was around 69k.) And what’s that holiday “bundle” at No. 20 with almost 5k units? It’s a QVC two-album package from Scotty McCreery.

Keeping Track
Country tracks had some nice gains to report with a 25% overall week over week jump. Miranda Lambert/Blake Shelton Song of the Year winner “Over You” was downloaded over 38k times, racking up an impressive 974% gain. The Band Perry performed “Better Dig Two” causing it to debut on the country tracks at No. 2 with over 82k downloads. Swift led the country tracks with “We Are Never…” scanning over 87k units. Her performance of “Begin Again” placed that track at No. 11 with almost 40k units.

The Kelly Clarkson/Vince Gill duet, “Don’t Rush” performed on TV debuted at No. 10 with over 41k units and CMA Award winner Thompson Square’s “If I Didn’t Have You” debuted at No. 12 with almost 39k units.

There are now four Taylor Swift tracks charting on the Billboard/SoundScan all genre list that are purposely being withheld from the country tracks chart. Those four songs currently account for total sales of about 935k units that are not being credited in country coffers. Still no explanation from either Billboard or SoundScan. Perhaps it’s time for the CMA, country music’s trade organization to step in and request clarification.

Turning The Telescope
Eight weeks remain in the 2012 sales calendar. Country sales are currently ahead 2.3%. To end the year flat, we will need to average 1.17 million country album units each week. This week ended 11/4/12 we shifted 1.16 million units. Stay tuned…


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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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