Weekly Register: Holiday Harmony, Chart Divide and Pope Wins

Weekly Register regular readers realize (say that 5 times fast!) there’s only two weeks remaining in the 2012 sales year and country is virtually assured that the year’s tally will outdistance 2011—but alas, not by much.

2011 country album sales were 42.923 million according to Nielsen SoundScan. YTD 2012 country sales have tallied 41.133 million, leaving us a mere 1.79 million to break even. This past week country sold 1.63 million, so breaking last year’s benchmark will most certainly occur.

But note that the Y/Y gain of approximately 3.3% in country album sales amounts to only about 1.4 million additional units or just one platinum release.

For example, if Billboard decided to remove Taylor Swift’s Red from the country charts as they have done with several of her album tracks then country sales could be down for the year. (Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble,” this past week’s second most downloaded track overall (167k; YTD 1.24 million) does not appear on the country tracks list.)

Am I the only journalist offended by the Billboard/SoundScan decision to chart music tracks by style, rather than by artist? Billboard has every right and rhyme to organize its charts as it sees fit, but I object to our industry’s accountant of record, Nielsen SoundScan—no longer owned by Billboard—doing the same. Next year will we see a Lady Antebellum or Carrie Underwood track banished from country? Or perhaps Little Big Town will be punished for straying past the censors guidelines? Maybe Jason Aldean, Eric Church or Brantley Gilbert will be arbitrarily banished from the format chart where their careers began. Will no one challenge this behavior or at least ask for a detailed explanation—managers, labels, etc.? Can I get a witness? Or a comment below?

OK, now I feel better, so let’s get on with a rundown of the week’s highlights and sip some holiday spirit!

Holiday Chart Scans
Did you know that according to Nielsen SoundScan (through 12-4-12) Bobby Helm’s “Jingle Bell Rock” is the most played holiday song on this year’s radio airwaves and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” is the most streamed track. Pop/Rock songs dominate holiday downloads (32%) followed by jazz (13%) and country (12%).

There’s lots of seasonal cheer atop the weekly Top Country Current Albums list, too. Holiday sets from Blake Shelton (No. 2; 68k), Lady Antebellum (No. 3; 60k) and Scotty McCreery (No.7; 47k) continue to sell well, but “mirror, mirror on the wall, Taylor Swift’s Red is the fairest of all.” The superstar’s 8-week-old No. 1 album tops both the country and Top 200 charts [again] logging another 208k copies this week for an RTD of 2.59 million.

Cassadee Pope and Avril Lavgine during "The Voice" live finale. Photo: Tyler Golden/NBC

There’s also a new soundtrack release from the Nashville TV show, Music Of Nashville (56k) which enters the chart at No. 4 and a 5-CD Blake Shelton set (No. 62; 1.3k). Shelton’s multi-album package was available this morning on Amazon for $19.88 and at Blakeshelton.com for $21.95.

Heading our sleigh to trackland, we acknowledge The Voice winner Cassadee Pope. Pope’s rendition of “Stupid Boy” scanned 117k units this week and topped country tracks. She was on Team Blake (two consecutive wins) and her version of “Over You” which also topped the chart a few weeks ago sold 17k units to land at No. 21 with RTD of about 225k. Very impressive sales for a reality show contestant!

Country track sales are leveling slightly but showing a healthy 13% increase over last year, especially when compared with all-genre track sales that are up a more modest 6%. And did you know that Country digital albums account for 25.6% of total country albums sold (last year that was 19.2% at this time).

May your holiday be safe, warm and spent with the ones you love. See you next week.

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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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