In five more weeks, we will put a fork in 2013 music sales and say, “Done.” But with Country music YTD rankings currently down 10.9% it looks doubtful anyone in Music City will say it was a year cooked to perfection. Part of the downturn will be attributed to weaker album releases. For example, in 2012 fans enjoyed Taylor Swift’s Red release which debuted with over one million units; and continued to scan large amounts every week through the holidays. This year it’s a holiday album from the Robertsons that this week churned 60k. Duck The Halls is now enjoying a fourth consecutive week at No. 1 with an RTD (release to date) total of over 256k units.
Is it shortsighted to dismiss country’s weak performance as being purely related to scheduling? Probably, because all genre sales are also down—8.5%. Is the industry turning into a singles business? Yeah, but track sales are tepid, too. (See graphs.) Streaming use is building rapidly however, and therefore must rank on the list of possible factors.
Piling up the stacks of wax and the platters that matter, Country needs to average 2.33 million album units per week over the final five weeks to break even. (For the week ended 11-24 country scanned 661k albums!)
For full disclaimer, Thanksgiving came a week earlier last year, which is to say its effect will not register in our results until next week. Perhaps that will recolor next week’s sales snapshot with a warmer, Instagram-like filter.
Albums on deck and still to come are Danielle Bradberry (11/25), Jake Owen (12/3) and a Wal-Mart-only package from Garth Brooks (11/29).
Holiday Hits Catalog
Normally we don’t languish on the catalog list, but as one would expect, it’s filling up with seasonal offerings. Blake Shelton (No. 1; 9k), Lady Antebellum (No. 2; 8k) and Scotty McCreery (No. 4; 4k) are doing well with collections they first released last year. Gifts which keep on giving, Elvis (No. 3; 7k) and Burl Ives (No;. 9; 3k and No. 10;3k) are also in the Top 10.