Post Holiday Sales Drag Totals

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• May 21, 2009

Let’s view our SoundScan update this week from 10,000 feet and then drill down into a few areas for a closer look. The addition of the Hannah Montana soundtrack to the country albums chart, plus recent releases from Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean and Keith Urban worked wonders to prop what earlier in the year was a soggy Y/Y sales comparison. For the week ended 5/17/09, country album sales are down a mere 3.9%. This compares quite favorably with the overall music business which is down 13%. (The controversial addition of the Disney star’s CD, which now accounts for 5.6% of 2009 country album sales, greatly helped improve country’s tally.)

Just released impact titles in the marketplace include a Greatest Hits outing from Kenny Chesney and a hip-hop offering from Eminem both hoping to take advantage of the long holiday weekend’s extra shopping time. Predictions based upon first day sales, according to insiders place Chesney in the mid-80s range and the gangsta at a whopping 600k+.

Counting Country
Not unexpectedly, post Mother’s Day country sales dropped off, about 18% wk/wk despite a debut from Steve Earle which scanned 17,839 units.

Digital consumer behavior is fast becoming a key observation area. Despite recent CMA research which finds that about 50% of the rabid countryphile core do not have Internet at home, country digital CD sales have grown Y/Y by a significant 62% hitting about 1.85 million units YTD. Last year, fans purchased 6.9% of the total country albums sold in digital format. This year that percentage has mushroomed to 11.6%.

In the digital track department leading country downloads included—Miley Cyrus “Climb” (73,754 units); Taylor Swift “You Belong…” (36,213); Miley Cyrus “HoeDown Throwdown” (34,724); Zac Brown Band “Whatever It Is” (34,423); and Brad Paisley “Then” 30,257.

Key: Y/Y—year over year; wk./wk.—week over week; YTD—year-to-date.

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David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. dross@musicrow.com

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