Weekly Register: The Start Of A New Horse Race

raceThe CDs are in their digital and physical bins and there’s the bell, “We’re Off!!” Yes, it’s the start of another horse race, er, music sales year and Weekly Register remains at your side to chart the highs and lows and call the plays each week—as they happen.

However, after that exciting rave-up intro I have to admit 2013’s first week didn’t generate anything even as exciting [yawn] as news about the $11 million mansion purchased by Kim Kardashian and Kanye West so they’ll have room for a nursery. But I promise we’ll find some relevant facts, so read on…

As our grid shows the first week of 2013 is ahead of the first week of 2012 largely carried by a strong crop of post-holiday Top 5 albums: Les Miserables soundtrack (92k); Mumford & Sons (91k); Taylor Swift (69k); Phillip Phillips (63k) and One Direction (61k).

weeklygrid1-6-13On the country list Swift led by a 3 to 1 margin followed by Carrie Underwood (23k); Florida Georgia Line (FGL) (20k); Jason Aldean (20k) and Luke Bryan (20k). Four out of the country Top 5 this week have scanned platinum or multi-platinum (Swift 3X). (FGL is the exception, but the album is only five weeks old.)

Track sales were off 38% compared with last week’s year-end, gift-card-cashing charts, but up 5% compared with the same week in 2012 (see grid). Frisky FGL topped the Digital Genre Country tracks list as “Cruise” downloaded another 103k units on its double platinum trajectory moving it to 1.738 million. No. 2 on the country tracks list was Swift’s “We Are Never Ever…” which added 96k this week for a total of 3.15 million. Ms. Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” sits at No. 1 on the all-genre Digital Tracks Current list downloading a massive 326k units for 2.367 million RTD. (This track is not also listed on the Digital Genre Country list for an unexplained reason known only to the folks that compile the Nielsen SoundScan data.)

Albums On Deck
MusicRow’s calendar for Upcoming Album releases can be found here. The next two months show dual Tim McGraw releases (Curb and BMLG) and some great projects from Katie Armiger, Randy Houser, Gary Allan, The Mavericks and power vocal trio Blue Sky Riders.

During the first two months of 2012 new offerings from Dierks Bentley, McGraw, Kellie Pickler, Martina McBride plus a soundtrack for Act Of Valor boosted unit totals. This year we have fewer top line titles, but we are blessed with a consistent tonnage title, like Red, so expect year-over-year comparisons for the next two months to remain close, even as digital percentages grow.

The Road Ahead
The new sales frontier—access—or digital streaming lacks a comprehensive measurement yardstick, but indications continue that it is gaining favor with consumers. Muve Music service, bundled by Cricket Communications announced this week that it has over one million subscribers. Muve Music customers get unlimited full track downloads, ringtones and ringback tones all included in their monthly rate plan. Muve has jumped from 600k subscribers to 1.1 million in less than a year. Spotify, an international on-demand music service now boasts five million paid subscribers with one million in the U.S. Rhapsody, another large player in the streaming on-demand market has also grown its paid base to over one million. According to research from digitalmusicnews.com, Muve, Rhapsody and Spotify have enjoyed a 340% paid subscriber growth in the last 13 months.

Pandora, also a key player in the space, is a webcaster service (users can’t pick exactly what they want to hear) with about 1.5 million subscribers.

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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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