Country sales continue to outpace the overall industry with only four weeks remaining in the 2012 sales calendar. This week albums with the Music City Made moniker increased Y/Y from 3.9% to 4%, while all-genre slid from -3.9% to -4% Y/Y. Country needs to sell a total of 42.923 million albums or 1.2 million per week to break even with 2011. (This post-Thanksgiving week, country album sales totaled 1.12 million.)
The 3-car holiday choo-choo continues to ring registers as Lady A (59k), Blake Shelton (53k) and Scotty McCreery (41k) chug into this week’s No. 2, 3 and 4 country album positions.
At the top of the list is Taylor Swift’s Red (137k) which after six weeks has total sales of 2.216 million. It may seem almost unbelievable, but the Big Machine elves and Santa Scott are celebrating as Red sales outpace Swift’s previous Speak Now outing which hit week six on 12/5/10 with 2.147 million in sales. (Dear Santa, I’d like a Macbook Air for Christmas.)
As we lunge into seasonal sales, the popularity of plastic over digital grows as evidenced by the W/W decline for both country and all genre in the Digital Album Sales % of Total Album Sales. One possible explanation is that some gift buyers are not regular music purchasers and still conditioned to buying something they can wrap and place under the tree (which outweighs a gift card).
Over in the Tracks Trenches, the Digital Country Chart shows Florida Georgia Line and The Band Perry in the top positions with “Cruise” (67k) and “Better Dig Two” (53k). Taylor Swift “We Are Never Ever…” (40k) and Hunter Hayes “Wanted” (39k) fill spots No. 3 and 4.
Vetting The Voice
Country Tracks position No. 5 brings us to an interesting bend in the road filled by The Voice contestant Cassadee Pope, who last night was voted to move into the final four. Pope’s version of “Over You” topped the country digital tracks chart last week with sales of 152k! This week it added 39k downloads for a two-week total of almost 200k.
Regular readers will note that Pope is coached by Voice judge Blake Shelton and the CMA Song of the Year she performed was written by Shelton and wife Miranda Lambert. A careful chart search shows that Pope also has a self-titled EP on the Top New Artist Albums chart (No. 80) that scanned 462 units this week and digital track “Are You Happy Now?” which entered the Digital Tracks list at No. 27 with 43k downloads. A spectacular showing by anyone’s yardstick, but is this art or commerce? Are we seeing the birth of a new superstar or merely the careful cultivation of this year’s crop of contestants? Pope’s version of “Over You” truly connected with TV viewers, but this morning, after her lackluster showing last night, she fell outside of iTunes Top 10 and behind fellow contestants Terry McDermott and Nicholas David.
Now in its third season, The Voice has had excellent ratings, been a springboard of media exposure for its judges (especially Mr. Shelton), but has utterly failed to launch any new artist careers. Frankly, it looks like this year’s final four might again prove the rule. And the rule is that TV talent shows have become more like soap operas than talent incubators. Contestants are artfully showcased amid lavish sets, state of the art lighting and with the benefit of high-dollar hair, makeup and styling. But listen carefully to details like vocal mixes and how instruments and backup voices are being used to find clues as to what the future might really bring for each performer. It’s a rare moment when a Miranda Lambert or Carrie Underwood steps out on the TV stage.
In the meantime, stay tuned as we count down the final four—not the final four contestants of course—the final four sales weeks!!!
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