Sales from January to June are behind us, so it’s time to study. Six months does not make a year, and so we’re looking here for trends and big picture results. In that spirit we have created our Top Country Label Groups and Top Country by Distribution Groups pie charts based solely upon the Top 20 highest selling YTD country albums according to Nielsen Soundscan and industry sources. Using a top 20 snapshot excludes catalog sales, but gives an ideal picture of the hottest current artists, their product and the labels and label groups that market them. (For reference, included at the bottom of the page is total distribution by groups, including catalog and all album country sales.)
UMG is the big story here, owning a full 37% of country product in our Top 20 mid-year group. (Note that if the EMI merger was already completed, the new entity would have 64%.) Counted in UMG’s distribution share is Mercury, MCA, ShowDog and Big Machine. Sony distributes BNA, RCA, Arista and Broken Bow (RED) while Warner includes Curb and Atlantic. The Top 20 Country titles sold 6.298 million units or about 33% of the total YTD album sales of 19.467 units.
Mid-year YTD sales of the top country albums ranges from Lionel Richie (No. 1; 900k) to Alan Jackson (No. 20; 149k). In between we find new names such Luke Bryan (No. 3; 575k), Eric Church (No. 6; 363k), The Band Perry (No. 8; 262k), Scott McCreery (No. 11; 224k), Brantley Gilbert (No. 12; 219k) and Lee Brice (No. 19; 149k). Stalwarts who scanned highly include Carrie Underwood (No. 2; 602k), Lady Antebellum (No. 4; 465k), Jason Aldean (No. 5;399k), Rascal Flatts (No. 7; 303k), Kenny Chesney (No. 9; 255k), Tim McGraw (No. 10; 249k), Blake Shelton (No. 13; 217k), Miranda Lambert (No. 14; 210k) and Toby Keith (No. 15; 209k).
The above rankings will likely change quite a bit by year end as new product is released. For example Chesney’s album at No. 9 YTD is only two weeks old. And Taylor Swift currently at No. 16 will likely climb much higher on our list if she releases a new album before year end. Zac Brown (No. 19; 149k) has new product coming out next week.
By Label Groups
The Top 20 wheel of fortune shows a tale of three basic groupings. At the top we have Capitol Records proudly showing a healthy margin with 27% of our Top 20 sales. Universal, Sony and Big Machine follow respectfully about 10 points behind and the remaining labels trail behind another 10 percentage points.
Country was the best performing album sales genre for the first six months of 2012 climbing 5.6%. Metal jumped 3.2%, Jazz increased 2.6% and Rock edged up .2%, but all other formats fell. Lionel Richie, Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan made the Mid-Year Top 10 Album Sales All Genre list at numbers 2, 6 and 7 respectively. According to Nielsen Soundscan, SME has the largest overall album sales market share with 30.41% this year. UMG follows with 28.98%. WMG captured 18.26% and unlike in the country format EMI is at the bottom of the list with 10.08%. (Others gets the remaining 12.26%). The pie graph to the right shows Total Country Album Distribution. Note that EMI’s country division at 16.34% is a lot stronger than the company’s all genre showing (10.08%).
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