Tag Archive for: soundscan

“Billboard Country Update” Returns

Wade Jessen

Wade Jessen

What starts with three, drops to two after one disappears and then returns to three on August 10? Answer: Country Music’s weekly pdf chart digests from MusicRow, Aircheck and the about-to-arrive Billboard Country Update. Industry observers were saddened and perhaps shocked when R&R’s HotFax shuttered its doors a few months ago. Unlike MusicRow’s CountryBreakout chart, which carved its own niche focusing on secondary radio and industry coverage, some executives opined that Aircheck and HotFax both covered mostly the same radio news, had mainstream radio charts and therefore perhaps two similar reports was unnecessary. Others felt it was important to get different perspectives especially since MediaBase, which provides data to Aircheck, is a Clear Channel property.

According to Billboard’s Nashville Sr. Chart Manager Wade Jessen, the new Country Update addresses the above comments by forging a more unique balance between radio and industry. Update will publish on Monday evenings starting Aug. 10 and offer a raft of new information. In addition to BDS-based radio charts the new publication will include an A-Z song index of country titles and become the venue for Billboard’s Touring Country Box scores. Also featured will be the debut of a country digital download chart via SoundScan. Jessen promises some other exciting new features including a mashup chart which combines digital sales and radio listening audience. Ken Tucker will helm Editorial coverage of the new undertaking in addition to continuing his other freelance duties.

Country Sales Outpace Overall Industry

SoundScan’s inner numerics held few surprises this week as sales on Country’s Current Top 75 remained flat (-2% to be precise). For the week ended 6/7/09 country sales are down 3.3% Y/Y which continues to compare favorably with the industry overall now down 14%. Lost Highway’s Ryan Bingham debuts on the country list at No. 17, scanning 7,710 units. Dave Matthews’ debut easily captured the No. 1 position on the Top 200 chart with 424,089 units sold (31.61% digital).

Jason Aldean and Keith Urban are fighting it out sales wise. Urban debuted one week before Aldean and is currently 105,308 units ahead of the Broken Bow newcomer. However, Aldean’s CD is gaining ground on the Aussie guitar master. This week Aldean moved 18,222 units and Urban sold 14,974. (Urban’s album sales are 17.75% digital; Aldean’s are 7.35%.)

Top 10 iTunes country track sales include No. 1 Kenny Chesney “Out Last Night” (71k); No. 5 Billy Currington “People Are Crazy” (30k); and No. 10 Jason Aldean “She’s Country” (25k).

New artists with a debut album in the Country Top 30 this week include Zac Brown Band (23,178 units this week), Lady Antebellum (13,533), and Universal South artists Randy Houser (3,062) and Eli Young Band (2,606).

American Idol Powers Country Sales

This week’s SoundScan action centers on the amazing power of American Idol. Execs will recall that AI featured the Grand Ole Opry last week and more specifically, Randy Travis, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley. So how did they do?

Probably no surprise to anyone, Carrie led the sales pack. Her duet with Randy Travis, “I Told You So,” performed on the show, was the week’s No. 8 most downloaded song with 106,361 sales. Carrie’s solo version of the track from her album also benefited, jumping up 24% and selling 19,445 units. Her AI theme song, “Home Sweet Home,” in its second week, sold 39,306 downloads a 65% drop, but still strong enough to be the No. 37 most downloaded track of the week. Fans also voted approval for Underwood by boosting sales of her Carnival Ride CD a healthy 59%.

Similarly, Warner Bros., took advantage of Randy Travis being on the show as “Artist Mentor.” They scheduled his CD release to coincide and were rewarded with a No. 3 showing on the Top Country Currents list for sales of 16,288 units. Travis’ fans perhaps are less digitally dominant since only 1,101 of those units were downloaded or 6.8%. (Carrie’s album downloads totaled 2,357 units or 12% of her total sales.)

Arista gambled for big results with Brad Paisley by introducing the new single “Then” on the show instead of performing a recent hit. Paisley’s song sold 64,127 units landing at No. 18 and about 42,000 units behind Carrie. However, if the AI intro helps to power the song up country radio charts then the bet will pay off.

Meanwhile off the AI beaten track, Rascal Flatts continued to get fans clicking as their second pre-release CD track, “Forever,” debuted this week with 46,551 unit sales. Bizniks will recall that last week the Lyric Street trio introduced “Here Comes Goodbye” setting a country digital debut sales record in the process. This week the song dropped 43% but still sold a whopping 72,326 units.

Wrapping up this week’s SoundScan sales pitch, country album sales are now off 16.9% YTD; overall all genre sales are off 13.6%.

Sales Down, Hopes Up—3/11/09

Sales for the week ended 3/8/2009 were only notable if your artist is called U2 who debuted at the top of the list with a remarkable (especially in this day and age) showing of 484,000 units. Equally impressive was the band’s higher-than-normal digital share which equaled 32%. Neko Case’s No. 3 Top 200 chart debut (44,300) lacked enough momentum to pass Taylor Swift who edged into the No. 2 spot with 52,285 units.

Once again the country sales story was a parable of lowered expectations evidenced by Top 75 Current Country total sales totaling a mere 302,853 units. Sales of the two Swift CDs (both Top 10) accounted for almost 22% of the total Top 75 list. Plant/Krauss (15,165), Darius Rucker (14,490), Zac Brown (14,092), Sugarland (10,899), Carrie Underwood (9,628), Dierks Bentley (9,087), Jamey Johnson (8,906) and Jake Owen (8,452) rounded out the Top 10. Overall 2009 YTD country album sales are off 15.3%, but country’s overall market share is holding steady at about 10% compared to 10.5% at this time last year.

Sales numbers do not always tell the entire story. One must also look behind the stats to see product releases both present, past and future. Therefore on a more upbeat note, CD hope is on the horizon. March 24 will bring upcoming discs from Martina McBride, John Rich and Eric Church. New Keith Urban and Rodney Atkins CDs drop March 31 and on April 7 fans will hopefully also lineup for new music from Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean and Emerson Drive.