Weekly Register: Navigating The Holiday Highway To 2013

As we prepare to load up the sleigh and head over the river and through the dale to Grandmother’s house for the annual turkey fest there’s several thoughts running through our mind. We think about that favorite casserole we’re looking forward to, a glass (or two) of Granny’s homemade rum-filled eggnog and yes, we wonder, “What about country sales?”

For the week ended 11-18-12, country scanned 901k album units. To break even with last year we now need to sell 1.257 million per week for each of the six weeks remaining in the 2012 sales season. This should be quite achievable, especially with two more Big Machine debuts lined up Rascal Flatts (11/19) and Florida Georgia Line (12/4) to help boost totals. (Country albums sold 2.2 million in the last week of 2011.)

Chartwise, country holds few surprises this week, except for the No. 7 debut from Aaron Lewis (21k). The lineup includes Swift (No. 1; 144k and nearing the 2 million mark), Aldean (No. 2; 40k) and then three holiday offerings from Lady A (No. 3; 34k), Shelton (No. 4; 29k) and McCreery (No. 5; 23k). Little Big Town (No. 6; 21k), Underwood (No. 8; 16k), Bryan (No. 9;16k) and Church (No. 10; 14k) round out the Top 10.

Clicking over to the country tracks department we see Florida Georgia Line reigning again this week with “Cruise” notching 80k more units and hitting Platinum status. The duo’s upcoming album debut is rumored to hit impressive 60-90k first week numbers which could make this act one of the year’s brightest success stories.

TEA Updates
MusicRow’s TEA Index sums physical, digital and TEA albums (track equivalent albums; 10 tracks=1 album) then calculates the percentage of total album sales that come from TEA. The idea is to measure the TEA effect against total album sales. (The numbers are gathered by industry sources from Nielsen SoundScan.) As a baseline, the 2011 full year TEA Index was 25% country and 27.7% all-genre.

After staying pretty flat for most of the year the TEA Index dipped in November to 29.07%. (See graph below.) We expect it will shrink further in December, before rising sharply in January. More album buyers come into the marketplace during the holiday season and tend to choose physical product for gifts. Those that do purchase digital gift cards, give them out under the Christmas tree, and so January TEA jumps as they get redeemed song by song.

Looking at a few of the underlying Country TEA Index numbers through 11-18-12, albums scanned 35.38 million units and track downloads totaled 145 million. Comparing the current stats (29.07%) to last year’s base line number (25%) shows a continued mouse-driven shift in consumer buying habits.

As our Thanksgiving sleigh merrily slides across the frozen tundra, it’s probably best to let some of the big picture issues facing our industry wait until we return from the holiday. For example, margins and profits?

In the meantime, be safe, hug your loved ones and enjoy the moment.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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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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