The sales world exploded this week as Memphis-born Justin Timberlake made registers ring like out of control pinball machines while amassing a lofty 968k album units (47 percent digital). The accomplished musician, actor, comic and more also rang up an additional 85k units of the new album’s “Suit & Tie” track which now has an RTD of over 1.5 million. JT sales expectations kept rising throughout the week like Tennessee temps in late Spring. But Timberlake wasn’t the only story in this week’s SoundScan tea leaves. Something unexpected happened closer to home.
Kacey Musgraves debuted at No. 1 on the country Current album’s list scanning over 43k units. (No. 2 on the Top 200). And her digital album sales were extremely high—58 percent, showing strong younger demo support.
How could an unknown 24-year-old Texas girl leap the chasm that stretches from obscurity to fame so quickly? Musgraves’ single “Merry Go Round” got Top 10 radio exposure but failed to enter the ultra rotation ranks that might be expected to drive this kind of sales story. But her music has attracted a chorus of enthusiastic critics.
For example, Rolling Stone’s Jody Rosen called Musgrave’s Same Tailer Different Park “For real,” noting the singer/songwriter is someone you, “won’t hear anywhere else… [who] advocates nonconformity…”
Musgraves’ remarkable debut seems to connect with maverick Texan songsmiths like Steve Earle and Lyle Lovett while also joining the current Nashville movement of self-expression led by songwriter/artists like Taylor Swift and Eric Church… Clearly this story is music driven!
Living On The Grid
Good sales news like the above two stories should be reflected on the grid if truly worthy. And they are. All genre sales rose from -7.2 percent to -5.8 percent an increase of 1.4 points in only a week! Country YTD sales also improved from -3.5 percent to -2.7 percent.
Digital album sales has been strong all year and continues to show growth YTD. All genre they are up 10 percent. The country music audience which may have arrived late at the album download party is making up for lost time showing a digital album increase of almost 22 percent YTD.
Unfortunately, the tracks picture is somewhat less rosy. All genre digital track sales are down YTD a full 2 percent. Again country fans are helping to offset track losses and are actually ahead 4.7 percent YTD.
Since 2008, all genre digital track sales have showed growth every year, moving from 2010—1.172 billion; 2011—1.271 billion; to 2012—1.336 billion. It is early in 2013 to proclaim a bona fide trend, but as the year advances we will be watching to see if the influence of streaming makes impacts the 2013 SoundScan physical and digital sales charts.
Meanwhile, as we speak, retail bins are being filled with new releases from Alan Jackson, the irrepressible Blake Shelton, Thompson Square and sultry Maggie Rose.
Check in with Weekly Register next week for the rundown on the hits, the misses and the platters that matter…
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