Category Archives: Crunching the Numbers

Crunching the Numbers: June 2011

It’s been a few months since we checked in with SoundScan. Here are the cumulative sales for both current and catalog country albums that are selling enough units to make the charts these days.

7 million +

  1. Soundtrack: O Brother, Where Are Thou? – 7,632,995
  2. Carrie Underwood: Some Hearts – 7,110,972

6 million +

  1. Taylor Swift: Fearless – 6,316,752
  2. Tim McGraw: Greatest Hits – 6,119,498

5 million +

  1. Taylor Swift: Taylor Swift – 5,027,348

4 million +

  1. Kenny Chesney: Greatest Hits – 4,114,798
  2. Shania Twain: Greatest Hits – 4,082,387

3 million +

  1. Alan Jackson: Drive – 3,535,242
  2. George Strait: 50 Number Ones – 3,518,496
  3. Lady Antebellum: Need You Now – 3,532,706
  4. Taylor Swift: Speak Now – 3,468,057

2 million +

  1. Zac Brown Band: Foundation – 2,635,235
  2. Tim McGraw: Greatest Hits Vol. 2 – 2,368,138
  3. Sugarland: Love on the Inside – 2,214,672
  4. Carrie Underwood: Play On – 2,009,083

1 million +

  1. Lady Antebellum: Lady Antebellum – 1,882,381
  2. Johnny Cash: Super Hits – 1,738,605
  3. Jason Aldean: Wide Open – 1,426,517
  4. Jason Aldean: Jason Aldean – 1,420,819
  5. Miranda Lambert: Revolution – 1,331,498
  6. Jason Aldean: My Kinda Party – 1,310,972
  7. George Strait: 20th Century Masters – 1,289,800
  8. Johnny Cash: Essential – 1,285,564
  9. Willie Nelson: Super Hits – 1,116,052
  10. Rascal Flatts: Greatest Hits Vol. 1 – 1,069,661
  11. Miranda Lambert: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – 1,016,075
  12. Sugarland: The Incredible Machine – 1,003,723

750,000 +

  1. Zac Brown Band: You Get What You Give – 968,714
  2. Trace Adkins, Comin’ On Strong – 965,061
  3. Jamey Johnson: That Lonesome Song – 940,343
  4. Toby Keith: Millennium Collection – 878,561
  5. Toby Keith: 35 Biggest Hits – 866,462
  6. Rascal Flatts: Nothing Like This – 865,016
  7. Kenny Chesney: Hemingway’s Whiskey – 839,504
  8. Jason Aldean: Relentless – 834,608
  9. Kenny Chesney: Greatest Hits II – 800,328

500,000 +

  1. Waylon Jennings: Super Hits – 651,308
  2. Keith Urban: Get Closer – 597,993
  3. The Band Perry: The Band Perry – 592,581
  4. Luke Bryan: Doin’ My Thing – 563,205
  5. Conway Twitty: Super Hits – 538,415
  6. Brooks & Dunn: #1’s…and then Some – 508,573

400,000 +

  1. Darius Rucker: Charleston, SC 1966 – 476,658
  2. Eric Church: Carolina – 470,846
  3. Chris Young: The Man I Want to Be – 463,497
  4. Josh Turner: Haywire – 406,108
  5. Eric Church: Sinners Like Me – 400,670

300,000 +

  1. Easton Corbin: Easton Corbin – 384,192
  2. Oak Ridge Boys: Millenium Collection – 379,114
  3. Tim McGraw: Number One Hits – 372,803
  4. Justin Moore: Justin Moore – 360,892
  5. Toby Keith: Bullets in the Gun – 339,665
  6. Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson: Vh1 Storytellers – 386,388
  7. Billy Currington: Enjoy Yourself – 329,489
  8. Jerrod Niemann: Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury – 316,393
  9. Tim McGraw: Greatest Hits 3 – 308,090
  10. Jamey Johnson: The Guitar Song – 300,115

200,000 +

  1. Blake Shelton: Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton – 289,071
  2. Reba McEntire: All the Women I Am – 281,208
  3. Blake Shelton: Hillbilly Bone – 275,540
  4. Brad Paisley: Hits Alive – 269,433
  5. Alan Jackson: 34 Number Ones – 265,163
  6. Zac Brown Band: Pass The Jar – 255,849
  7. Colt Ford: Ride Through the Country – 254,712
  8. Brad Paisley: This is Country Music – 243,423
  9. Trace Adkins: Cowboy’s Back in Town – 241,559
  10. Alabama: 16 Biggest Hits – 232,337
  11. Dierks Bentley: Up on the Ridge – 227,742
  12. Alison Krauss & Union Station: Paper Airplane – 224,808
  13. Sara Evans: Stronger – 214,661
  14. Blake Shelton: All About Tonight – 212,144

100,000 +

  1. Little Big Town: The Reason Why – 183,618
  2. Colt Ford: Chicken & Biscuits – 180,622
  3. Thompson Square: Thompson Square – 180,396
  4. Aaron Lewis: Town Line – 164,725
  5. Josh Thompson: Way Out Here – 120,246
  6. Brantley Gilbert: Halfway to Heaven – 119,790
  7. Steel Magnolia: Steel Magnolia – 119,234
  8. Lee Brice: Love Like Crazy – 101,295

50,000 +

  1. Trace Adkins: Definitive Greatest Hits – 80,441
  2. Dixie Chicks: Playlist – 66,435
  3. Patsy Cline: Icon – 65,408
  4. Colt Ford: Every Chance I Get – 58,257
  5. JaneDear Girls: JaneDear Girls – 55,746
  6. Joe Nichols: Greatest Hits – 53,321

Less than 50,000

  1. Don Williams: Icon – 47,272
  2. Ronnie Dunn: Ronnie Dunn – 45,429
  3. Emmylou Harris: Hard Bargain – 42,700
  4. Johnny Cash: Icon – 41,256
  5. Josh Turner: Icon – 39,656
  6. Billy Currington: Icon – 38,275
  7. Vince Gill: Icon – 36,234
  8. Steve Earle: I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive – 35,152
  9. Dixie Chicks: Essential – 27,467
  10. Craig Campbell: Craig Campbell – 25,962
  11. Randy Travis: Anniversary Celebration – 19,278
  12. Hank Williams III: Hillbilly Joker – 13,641
  13. The Judds: I Will Stand By You (Essential) – 13,630
  14. John Rich: Rich Rocks – 6,463
  15. Gene Watson & Rhonda Vincent: Your Money & My Good Looks – 718

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Crunching the Numbers: January 2011

Feel that chill in the air?  It’s not just climate change, friends.  The music industry is suffering through historic lows in record sales, the worst since SoundScan started tallying them in 1991.

How are country artists faring?  Let’s take a look at cumulative sales for current albums. Sales are rounded to the nearest hundred.

Top Selling Current Country Albums

  1. Taylor Swift, Fearless: 6,233,900
  2. Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift: 4,955,000
  3. Lady Antebellum, Need You Now: 3,138,700
  4. Taylor Swift, Speak Now: 3,078,600
  5. Zac Brown Band, The Foundation: 2,489,200
  6. Carrie Underwood, Play On: 1,937,041
  7. Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum: 1,835,800
  8. Jason Aldean, Wide Open: 1,364,700
  9. Miranda Lambert, Revolution: 1,149,000
  10. Rascal Flatts, Greatest Hits Volume 1: 994,600
  11. Sugarland, The Incredible Machine: 815,200
  12. Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party:  766,300
  13. Tim McGraw, Southern Voice: 749,200
  14. George Strait, Twang: 670,200
  15. Kenny Chesney, Hemingway’s Whiskey: 655,200
  16. Zac Brown Band, You Get What You Give: 636,000
  17. Rascal Flatts, Nothing Like This: 585,800
  18. Luke Bryan, Doin’ My Thing: 509,200
  19. Keith Urban, Get Closer: 508,200
  20. Brooks & Dunn, #1’s…and Then Some: 479,700
  21. Toby Keith, American Ride: 432,100
  22. Chris Young, The Man I Want to Be: 408,000
  23. Eric Church, Carolina: 380,600
  24. Darius Rucker, Charleston, SC 1966: 376,700
  25. The Band Perry, The Band Perry: 364,000
  26. Josh Turner, Haywire: 361,800
  27. Justin Moore, Justin Moore: 325,600
  28. Easton Corbin, Easton Corbin: 314,000
  29. Toby Keith, Bullets in the Gun: 279,400
  30. Jamey Johnson, The Guitar Song: 256,300
  31. Gary Allan, Get Off on the Pain: 238,000
  32. Reba McEntire, All the Women I Am: 224,800
  33. Jerron Niemann, Judge Jerron & The Hung Jury: 222,700
  34. Billy Currington, Enjoy Yourself: 222,000
  35. Tim McGraw, Number One Hits: 220,500
  36. Dierks Bentley, Up on the Ridge: 204,900
  37. Zac Brown Band, Pass the Jar: 202,100
  38. Trace Adkins, Cowboy’s Back in Town: 194,200
  39. Johnny Cash, American VI: Ain’t No Grave: 190,100
  40. Brad Paisley, Hits Alive: 189,200
  41. Alan Jackson, 34 Number Ones: 181,000
  42. Blake Shelton, All About Tonight: 160,700
  43. Little Big Town, The Reason Why: 158,300
  44. Blake Shelton, Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton : 142,300
  45. Jaron and the Long Road to Love, Getting Dressed in the Dark: 119,700
  46. Josh Thompson, Way Out Here: 107,000
  47. Joe Nichols, Old Things New: 100,700
  48. Brantley Gilbert, Halfway to Heaven: 81,400
  49. Lee Brice, Love Like Crazy: 81,200
  50. Steel Magnolia, Steel Magnolia: 41,000
  51. Joey + Rory, Album Number Two: 34,100
  52. Randy Houser, They Call Me Cadillac: 30,900

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Carrie Underwood and Female Country Artists: A Historical Perspective

I’ve always been something of a chart junkie. While I don’t pay as close attention as I used to, I still have a pretty good handle on historical trends. One artist I’ve been keeping an eye on is Carrie Underwood. When each official country single from her first two albums peaked at #1 or #2, it caught my attention.

But I never expected the trend to continue, with three more #1 hits from the new album. The source of that belief was the history of women on country radio, especially in the twenty most recent years that were based on actual monitored airplay instead of radio playlists. Since that change, far less records have gone #1 or #2.

When “Undo It” reached #2 last week, Underwood became the only female artist in country music history to have eleven consecutive top two singles. Until then, she was tied with Tammy Wynette, who scored ten consecutive top two singles from 1967-1970. All but one of Wynette’s singles were #1 hits, with the only #2 being “I’ll See Him Through.” With “Undo It” moving to #1 this week, Underwood has only two singles in her streak that didn’t top the charts: “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” and “I Told You So.”

“Undo It” is Underwood’s tenth #1 single. How rare is it for a female to reach that milestone? The last woman to reach it was Rosanne Cash, her tenth #1 being “Runaway Train” in the fall of 1988. Earlier that same year, Reba McEntire scored her tenth #1 with “Love Will Find Its Way To You.”

Underwood’s support at radio is unprecedented for a female artist in the modern chart era. In less than five years, she’s already tied for the most #1’s since 1990, and she’s moving quickly up the all-time list as well:

Most #1 Hits by a Female Artist – Monitored Era (1990-present):

  1. Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood – 10
  2. Faith Hill – 9
  3. Shania Twain – 7
  4. Jo Dee Messina – 6
  5. Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood – 5
  6. Sara Evans, Patty Loveless, Taylor Swift, Wynonna – 4

Most #1 Hits by a Female Artist – All-Time:

  1. Dolly Parton – 25
  2. Reba McEntire – 23
  3. Tammy Wynette – 20
  4. Crystal Gayle – 18
  5. Loretta Lynn – 16
  6. Rosanne Cash – 11
  7. Anne Murray, Tanya Tucker, Carrie Underwood – 10

Why do you think that Underwood has been the one to push up against country radio’s glass ceiling so much? Can she keep this up?  Will she eventually get to the top of each list, or is there somebody below her that might jump ahead?

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Top-Selling Country Albums of 2009

Here are the top selling country albums of the calendar year 2009.  The number in parentheses is the album’s rank on the overall list encompassing all genres. The totals are rounded to the nearest thousand:

  1. Taylor Swift, Fearless (1) – 3,157,000
  2. Zac Brown Band, Foundation (15) – 1,243,000
  3. Carrie Underwood, Play On (19) – 1,150,000
  4. Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable (21) – 1,123,000
  5. Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum (24) – 948,000
  6. Jason Aldean, Wide Open (27) – 940,000
  7. Darius Rucker, Learn to Live (31) – 849,000
  8. Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift (36) – 766,000
  9. Keith Urban, Defying Gravity (38) – 715,000
  10. Sugarland, Love On the Inside (41) – 678,000
  11. Kenny Chesney, Greatest Hits II (54) – 547,000
  12. Tim McGraw, Southern Voice (55) – 547,000
  13. George Strait, Twang (62) – 499,000
  14. Brad Paisley, American Saturday Night (69) – 462,000
  15. Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song (71) – 460,000
  16. Carrie Underwood, Carnival Ride (74) – 457,000
  17. Taylor Swift, The Holiday Collection (79) – 425,000
  18. Reba McEntire, Keep On Loving You (93) – 389,000
  19. Rascal Flatts, Greatest Hits Volume 1 (104) – 359,000
  20. Miranda Lambert, Revolution (112) – 334,000
  21. Alan Jackson, Good Time (124) – 311,000
  22. Billy Currington, Little Bit of Everything (125) – 310,000
  23. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Raising Sand (126) – 305,000
  24. Dierks Bentley, Feel That Fire (129) – 298,000
  25. Toby Keith, American Ride (137) – 288,000
  26. Sugarland, Gold and Green (149) – 255,000
  27. Carrie Underwood, Some Hearts (158) – 248,000
  28. Sugarland, Live on the Inside (168) – 232,000
  29. Sugarland, Enjoy the Ride (180) – 225,000
  30. Kellie Pickler, Kellie Pickler (190) – 218,000
  31. Various Artists, Now Country Vol. 2 (192) – 214,000
  32. Kenny Chesney, Lucky Old Sun (193) – 219,000

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Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number

george-strait1While Taylor Swift mania continues to grow, there’s another impressive accomplishment being achieved by two veterans of country music on the opposite end of the age spectrum.

Contrary to what is commonly believed, there has always been a ceiling on how old you could be and still get country airplay. This year, both George Strait and Reba McEntire have been working steadily to shatter that ceiling.

Take a look at the age of country legends when they earned their most recent top ten solo hit:

  1. Eddy Arnold, 62
  2. Kenny Rogers, 61*
  3. Conway Twitty, 58
  4. George Strait, 57
  5. George Jones, 57**
  6. Marty Robbins, 57
  7. Willie Nelson, 56**
  8. Ray Price, 56
  9. Reba McEntire, 54
  10. Waylon Jennings, 53
  11. Merle Haggard, 52
  12. Alan Jackson, 50
  13. Charley Pride, 50
  14. Johnny Cash, 49
  15. Ernest Tubb, 49
  16. Ronnie Milsap, 48
  17. Loretta Lynn, 47
  18. Webb Pierce, 46
  19. Garth Brooks, 45
  20. Dolly Parton, 43**
  21. Hank Williams Jr., 41
  22. Tammy Wynette, 40

* Kenny Rogers was the lead singer for his final top ten hit “Buy Me a Rose”, with harmony vocalists Billy Dean and Alison Krauss credited on the single

** George Jones, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton returned to the top ten in later years through duets with younger artists

It’s also worth noting that Alan Jackson, at 50, isn’t too far away from passing several legends on the list.

So George Strait remains in heavy rotation at the age of 57, outpacing all but three stars in country music history. Among the ladies, McEntire is a full seven years older than her nearest competitor Loretta Lynn was when she enjoyed her last top ten hit.

Thoughts?

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Album Sales Update: July 2009

It’s time for an album sales update, our first since May 23.   Brad Paisley is off to a strong start with American Saturday Night, selling 130k in its first week. That’s about 70k less than his previous two studio albums – Time Well Wasted and 5th Gear – opened with, but not a terrible drop-off, considering the state of the music market.

Meanwhile, the new studio albums by Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban are slowing down considerably, now being outpaced on a weekly basis by 2008 releases by Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band, Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum.

Among younger acts with a new album in 2009, the most impressive sales are coming from Jason Aldean, while 2008 releases from Kellie Pickler, Billy Currington, and Randy Houser are showing new signs of life.

Biggest disappointments? It’s hard not to look in the direction of Martina McBride, who has barely cleared the 100k mark on her new studio set.  Lee Ann Womack’s 2008 set just made it over that mark, too.  Then again, one only needs to have sold 455 copies to make the chart this week, with the anchor position going to Wynonna with that total. Her covers album Sing – Chapter 1 has sold 41k to date.

Here are the latest totals for albums released over the past three years that are still charting:

2009

  • Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable – 842,000
  • Keith Urban, Defying Gravity – 452,000
  • Jason Aldean, Wide Open – 384,000
  • Kenny Chesney, Greatest Hits II – 281,000
  • Dierks Bentley, Feel That Fire – 219,000
  • Martina McBride, Shine – 104,000
  • John Rich, Son of a Preacher Man – 103,000
  • Eric Church, Carolina – 94,000
  • Rodney Atkins, It’s America – 88,000
  • Jake Owen, Easy Does It – 81,000
  • Randy Travis, I Told You So: Ultimate Hits – 78,000
  • Montgomery Gentry, For Our Heroes – 64,000
  • Willie Nelson & Asleep at the Wheel, Willie & The Wheel – 56,000
  • Steve Earle, Townes – 47,000
  • Colt Ford, Ride Through the Country – 45,000
  • Jason Michael Carroll, Growing Up is Getting Old – 45,000
  • Wynonna, Sing – Chapter 1 – 41,000
  • Hank Williams Jr. – 127 Rose Avenue – 34,000
  • Ryan Bingham, Roadhouse Sun – 15,000
  • Tracy Lawrence, Rock – 11,000
  • Darryl Worley, Sounds Like Life – 8,000
  • Holly Williams, Here With Me – 5,000
  • Charlie Robison, Beautiful Day – 3,000
  • Tanya Tucker, My Turn – 3,000

2008

  • Taylor Swift, Fearless – 3,464,000
  • Sugarland, Love on the Inside – 1,683,000
  • George Strait, Troubadour – 914,000
  • Alan Jackson, Good Time – 869,000
  • Darius Rucker, Learn to Live – 754,000
  • Kenny Chesney, Lucky Old Sun – 721,000
  • Zac Brown Band, Foundation – 681,000
  • Rascal Flatts, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 – 680,000
  • Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum – 674,000
  • Toby Keith, 35 Biggest Hits – 652,000
  • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song – 509,000
  • Toby Keith, That Don’t Make Me a Bad Guy – 403,000
  • James Otto, Sunset Man – 374,000
  • Julianne Hough, Julianne Hough – 314,000
  • Kellie Pickler, Kellie Pickler – 261,000
  • Dierks Bentley, Greatest Hits – 255,000
  • Brad Paisley, Play – 247,000
  • Dolly Parton, Backwoods Barbie – 208,000
  • Tim McGraw, Greatest Hits Vol. 3 – 206,000
  • Billy Currington, Little Bit of Everything – 191,000
  • Trace Adkins, X – 185,000
  • Montgomery Gentry, Back When I Knew it All – 184,000
  • Joey + Rory, Life of a Song – 167,000
  • Blake Shelton, Startin’ Fires – 165,000
  • Eli Young Band, Jet Black and Jealous – 108,000
  • Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy – 102,000
  • Craig Morgan, Greatest Hits – 81,000
  • Hank Williams III, Damn Right Rebel Proud – 80,000
  • Randy Houser, Anything Goes – 79,000
  • Lost Trailers, Holler Back – 69,000

2006-2007

  • Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift – 4,129,000
  • Carrie Underwood, Carnival Ride – 2,918,000

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Album Sales Update

Here are the latest totals for albums released over the past three years that are still charting:

2009

  • Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable – 669,000
  • Keith Urban, Defying Gravity – 349,000
  • Jason Aldean, Wide Open – 241,000
  • Dierks Bentley, Feel That Fire – 189,000
  • Martina McBride, Shine – 89,000
  • John Rich, Son of a Preacher Man – 89,000
  • Rodney Atkins, It’s America – 72,000
  • Jake Owen, Easy Does It – 70,000
  • Eric Church, Carolina – 66,000
  • Randy Travis, I Told You So: Ultimate Hits – 59,000
  • Randy Rogers Band, Randy Rogers Band – 57,000
  • Pat Green, What I’m For – 54,000
  • Willie Nelson & Asleep at the Wheel, Willie & The Wheel – 50,000
  • Billy Ray Cyrus, Back to Tennessee – 29,000
  • Jason Michael Carroll, Growing Up is Getting Old – 26,000
  • Dean Brody, Dean Brody – 5,000

2008

  • Taylor Swift, Fearless – 3,220,000
  • Sugarland, Love on the Inside – 1,594,000
  • George Strait, Troubadour – 860,000
  • Alan Jackson, Good Time – 803,000
  • Keith Urban, Greatest Hits – 737,000
  • Kenny Chesney, Lucky Old Sun – 696,000
  • Darius Rucker, Learn to Live – 642,000
  • Rascal Flatts, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 – 642,000
  • Toby Keith, 35 Biggest Hits – 630,000
  • Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum – 572,000
  • Zac Brown Band, Foundation – 511,000
  • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song – 438,000
  • Toby Keith, That Don’t Make Me a Bad Guy – 384,000
  • James Otto, Sunset Man – 368,000
  • Julianne Hough, Julianne Hough – 309,000
  • Dierks Bentley, Greatest Hits – 244,000
  • Brad Paisley, Play – 238,000
  • Jewel, Perfectly Clear – 226,000
  • Kellie Pickler, Kellie Pickler – 216,000
  • Dolly Parton, Backwoods Barbie – 199,000
  • Heidi Newfield, What am I Waiting For? – 197,000
  • Tim McGraw, Greatest Hits Vol. 3 – 196,000
  • Trace Adkins, X – 174,000
  • Montgomery Gentry, Back When I Knew it All – 173,000
  • Blake Shelton, Startin’ Fires – 152,000
  • Joey + Rory, Life of a Song – 152,000
  • Billy Currington, Little Bit of Everything – 133,000
  • Chuck Wicks, Starting Now – 129,000
  • Jimmy Wayne, Do You Believe Me Now – 127,000
  • Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy – 94,000
  • Eli Young Band, Jet Black and Jealous – 92,000
  • Hank Williams III, Damn Right Rebel Proud – 76,000
  • Craig Morgan, Greatest Hits – 73,000
  • Lost Trailers, Holler Back – 65,000
  • Randy Houser, Anything Goes – 58,000

2006-2007

  • Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift – 4,129,000
  • Carrie Underwood, Carnival Ride – 2,852,000
  • Trace Adkins, Greatest Hits Vol. 2 – 627,000

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Crunching the Numbers: Sugarland Moves to #1 Overall

Sugarland will move to #1 on the overall album chart this week, following a relatively small 45 percent drop from their opening week numbers.    Last week, it entered at #2 with sales of 313,600.   This week, it sold an additional 171,400 units, good enough to beat out Miley Cyrus, who suffers a 56 percent drop.

That

brings the total sales of Love on the Inside to 485,100 after only two weeks.   For a sense of perspective, Sugarland is only a few thousand units shy of the current sales totals for superstar acts George Strait and Alan Jackson, and their albums were released 18 and 22 weeks ago, respectively.

Will more labels follow the novel approach of releasing a fan deluxe edition first, especially if it curtails that big second-week drop?  Or did this work out so well because one of the bonus tracks (“Life in a Northern Town”) was already a radio and video hit?

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Crunching the Numbers: July 2008, Digital Edition

Carrie Underwood, Digital Queen

Carrie Underwood, Digital Queen

One of the reasons cited for country's dramatic sales dip last year was that the consumer base was slow to adapting to digital distribution.  Taking a look at both current and all-time digital sales, it's quickly apparent how far country trails other genres.   However, there are a few artists who are crossing that digital divide, some consistently, and others with a signature song with significant crossover appeal.    Let's see how digital sales are going since the last time we checked in.

Digital Singles

On the current sales chart, the highest-charting country song is Sugarland's “All I Want to Do”, which is at #21.   Sugarland is one of a select few country acts that post strong digital numbers, a group that also includes Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.   In some cases, non-single tracks of these artists are outselling #1 country hits by other artists.Rascal Flatts was one of last year's strongest digital acts, but their recent hits haven't been doing as well on the digital front, and their only track in the top 200 is the older track “Life is a Highway.”

Here's a list of the country songs that are among this week's top 100 digital songs, along with their cumulative sales (rounded to the nearest ten)

21. Sugarland, “All I Want to Do” (260,110)
40. Taylor Swift, “Should've Said No” (376,110)
60. Carrie

Underwood, “Last Name” (441,050)
64. Toby Keith, “She Never Cried in Front of Me” (45,740)
69. Sugarland, Little Big Town & Jake Owen, “Life in a Northern Town” (131,690)
72. Miranda Lambert, “Gunpowder & Lead” (350,050)
79. Jessica Simpson, “Come on Over” (91,790)
90. Taylor Swift, 'Our Song” (1,690,800)
91. Keith Urban, “You Look Good in My Shirt” (93,890)
92. Alan Jackson, “Good Time” (128,380)
95. Taylor Swift, “Picture to Burn” (678,830)

When we looked at cumulative sales last year, there were ten country tracks among the top 200 digital songs of all-time. Now, there are just nine:
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Crunching the Numbers: July 2008, Part 5

There was quite a bit of discussion earlier this week about the scarcity of female artists on the radio these days. Then again, there’s usually quite a bit of discussion about the women in country music on this site anyway. This edition of Crunching the Numbers takes a look at the current studio albums of veteran female artists, all of whom have been established names for more than a decade.


Reba McEntire, Reba Duets
Release: September 18, 2007
Sales to Date: 1,419,600

I’ll completely cop to the fact that I underestimated this project. Reba’s done so many side projects lately, and every duet album carries a faint whiff of desperation. But she proved all the naysayers wrong, scoring her first #1 album on the all-genre chart. Reba Duets is now her highest-selling studio album since 1996’s What if It’s You, and is likely to eclipse that set soon. After a major hit with Kelly Clarkson, she’s now in the top twenty with Kenny Chesney (or Skip Ewing.)


LeAnn Rimes, Family
Release: October 9, 2007
Sales to Date: 359,900

Sales for Rimes’ current set are still little more than half what her previous record, This Woman, scanned, but given that radio support has been far weaker this time out, that’s still a decent number to be at. “What I Cannot Change” has the potential to be a career record, so this set’s best sales season may still be to come.


Trisha Yearwood, Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love
Release: November 13, 2007
Sales to Date: 161,300

Even though it’s her slowest-selling album to date, it’s a record rich with strong material. The question is if Big Machine will continue to mine it for more singles, which MCA failed to do with Yearwood’s excellent Real Live Woman and Jasper County sets. “Cowboys are My Weakness” and “Dreaming Fields” could be the right cuts to promote.


Dolly Parton, Backwoods Barbie
Release: February 26, 2008
Sales to Date: 112,100

This hasn’t been the radio comeback that Parton was gunning for, and that Idol guest spot did more to stimulate catalog sales in the end. Even on this week’s chart, there are two Parton hits compilations that outsold her current album. But the title track may be the set’s lingering claim to fame, as it’s featured in the Parton-penned 9 to 5 musical that’s opening on Broadway. Readers know that Parton was #1 on my 100 Greatest Women feature, and that was before she had the composition of an entire Broadway original score under her belt. The woman’s talent is deep as it is relentless.


Emmylou Harris, All I Intended to Be
Release: June 10, 2008
Sales to Date: 68,400

Who would’ve thought that Montgomery Gentry would release an album on the same day as Emmylou Harris, and despite them having the #1 single at country radio, she’d outsell them each and every week? This year’s Hall of Fame inductee still has a loyal audience, though it’s changed in composition over the years.

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