Weekly Register: Gary Allan, Randy Houser Debuts

gary randyTop Current Country Album Sales swelled W/W by 22 percent with debuts from Gary Allan, Set You Free (No. 1; 106k; 36 percent digital) and Randy Houser, How Country Feels (No. 3; 24k; 42 percent digital).

Tim McGraw’s Curb project was also unveiled, scanning 3.3k and landing at No. 18. McGraw has left Curb Records, so the superstar’s energies have been focused on his upcoming Big Machine album, Two Lanes of Freedom, due the week of Feb. 5 and expected to outperform this week’s tepid numbers. And Katie Armiger, after last week’s attention-grabbing No. 7 (12k) chart entry, slipped back to No. 23 (2.4k).

Stepping back to study the industry, all-genre sales slid from positive (2.3 percent) territory to a falling-behind-last-year -0.5 percent. All-genre track sales however, remain up (2 percent).

weeklygrid1-27-13Country album sales dug a deeper hole this week, sliding from last week’s -2.6 percent to -2.9 percent. It’s too early to stress about 2013, but Q1:’13 seems light on upcoming power releases. For comparison, last year (Q1 ’12) featured releases from Dierks Bentley, Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan, Craig Morgan, Gary Allan and a blockbuster from Lionel Richie that opened with almost 200k units.

Q2 ’13 however, already has a few register ringers on the list such as The Band Perry (April 2), Brad Paisley (April 9) and Kenny Chesney (April 30). And it’s likely we’ll see a few as of yet unannounced surprises.

weeklygrid1-20-13Country track sales are the week’s bright spot up 8.3 percent YTD. And leading that Music City track race is Sir Gary Allan’s “Every Storm” perched at No. 1 with 70k downloads. Filling out the Top 5 are The Band Perry (No. 2; 67k), Blake Shelton (No. 3; 60k), Hayes Hunter (No. 4; 55k) and Florida Georgia Line (No. 5; 53k).

Will Work For Food
A Jan. 28 New York Times article, “As Streaming Grows, Royalties Slow To A Trickle,” should be required reading for industry biznicks. “Spotify…lets users choose from millions of songs over the Internet free or by subscription, and is increasingly seen as representing the future of music consumption,” says writer Ben Sisario.

Most industry leaders would likely agree with that observation, but it represents a problem with respect to future revenue streams. According to the article, “On a 99-cent download, a typical artist may earn 7 to 10 cents after deductions for the retailer, the record company and the songwriter, music executives say. One industry joke calls the flow of these royalties a ‘river of nickels.’ In the new economics of streaming music, however, the river of nickels looks more like a torrent of micropennies.”

Actually, I believe that to be a pretty accurate characterization of what may lie ahead. With physical product we earned dollars. That fell to dimes with digital sales and now, with streaming models we are taking another pay cut to pennies…

Here’s another NYT quote that further illustrates the issue, “In its last four reported quarters, Pandora paid $202 million in ‘content acquisition costs,’ including licensing fees, and Spotify recently announced that it has paid $500 million in royalties since its inception. Downloads, by comparison, had $2.6 billion in sales in 2011, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.”


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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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