Category Archives: Crunching the Numbers

2006′s Big Christmas Release? Carrie’s 2005 Album!

For the first time since Shania Twain dominated three Christmas seasons in a row with her mega-selling Come On Over, an album from the previous year has completely schooled all the 2006 releases at retail. Carrie Underwood moved a shocking 292,000 units of Some Hearts in the week before Christmas, pushing cumulative sales for the project to 4,586,750, with still one more week to be tabulated from 2006.

Try to get your head around this: Some of the biggest stars in the genre released new albums in 2006, some right before the Christmas season. Rascal Flatts, Dixie Chicks, Toby Keith, Keith Urban, Sugarland, George Strait, Dierks Bentley, Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson all hit stores with projects that have sold pretty well.

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Digital Country

Over the past few years, with the establishment of iTunes and other online music stores, more music fans are getting their fix digitally than ever before. However, much like country consumers held on to the cassette format long after most music buyers had switched to CD, the digital boom has been impacting country music more slowly than other genres.

That’s not to say some country artists aren’t making out like bandits. When looking over the top 200 digital songs and digital albums to date, a lot of country names pop up.

Top 200 Digital Songs of All-Time

48. “Bless the Broken Road” – Rascal Flatts (747,496)

63. “Life is a Highway” – Rascal Flatts (644,082)

68. “Jesus, Take the Wheel” – Carrie Underwood (631,489)

69. “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) – Big & Rich (629,021)

73. “What Hurts the Most” – Rascal Flatts (611,239)

105. “Live Like You Were Dying” – Tim McGraw (487,521)

135. “Redneck Woman” – Gretchen Wilson (422,587)

143. “Not Ready to Make Nice” – Dixie Chicks (405,926)

174. “I Hope You Dance” – Lee Ann Womack w/Sons of the Desert (369,204)

180. “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” – Trace Adkins (385,125)

183. “You’ll Think of Me” – Keith Urban (359,788)

186. “Whiskey Lullaby” – Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss (356,113)

Top 100 Digital Albums of All-Time


12. Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way (113,001)

23. Rascal Flatts, Me and My Gang (89, 260)

65. Johnny Cash, 16 Biggest Hits (44,893)

72. Rascal Flatts, Feels Like Today (42, 441)

The numbers speak for themselves, but I can’t help but observe that Rascal Flatts seem to be dominating the genre these days (no pun intended.) I don’t think it’s so much that they’re a big digital act; they’re just selling such huge numbers overall that digital sales are pretty high as well.

They also show that the days of using a hit act to push an entire soundtrack may be numbered. The Cars soundtrack did pretty well, but over 600,000 people decided to just download the Flatts track instead of picking up the whole thing. That’s a trend to watch out for. Heck, it’s something I did this week. There was never a chance of me buying the whole Tony Bennett duets album, but I was quite happy to spend $1.98 to buy the duets with Dixie Chicks and Tim McGraw.

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Numbers Don’t Lie

Perusing the SoundScan totals for country albums makes all of those mergers and layoffs seem a lot more understandable. Wow, the market is weak. Even Entertainer of the Year nominees are having a hard time breaking the million mark.

Here are the totals for the most recent albums by country artists, with the weeks released included to give a sense of how long it took to reach those marks. The albums are ranked by total sales to date. Here are the only current albums to scan over a million units:

1. Shania Twain Greatest Hits (84 weeks) 3.46 million
2. Carrie Underwood Some Hearts (31 weeks) 3.16 million
3. Keith Urban Be Here (91 weeks) 3.04 million
4. Kenny Chesney Road & The Radio (33 weeks) 2.31 million
5. Sugarland Twice The Speed of Life (86 weeks) 1.97 million
6. Rascal Flatts Me & My Gang (11 weeks) 1.88 million
7. Faith Hill Fireflies (46 weeks) 1.87 million
8. Trace Adkins Songs About Me (65 weeks) 1.48 million
9. Martina McBride Timeless (35 weeks) 1.12 million
10. Brad Paisley Time Well Wasted (44 weeks) 1.11 million
11. Dixie Chicks Taking The Long Way (4 weeks) 1.10 million
12. Gretchen Wilson All Jacked Up (38 weeks) 1.10 million
13. Dierks Bentley Modern Day Drifter (58 weeks) 1.09 million

The only albums on this list that are still actively selling, meaning they’re scanning more than 25k a week, are the Chicks, Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood. The Paisley, Chesney and Bentley CD’s have slowed down considerably, but still sell between 20-25k a week, so they could conceivably pad their totals by quite a bit.

Here are some albums that have a shot at cracking the million mark. The McGraw hits collection and the new Toby Keith are still selling in the 35-40k range each week, but are slowing down considerably faster than normal for those two artists. Of the two, McGraw’s will likely have much longer legs due to the inclusion of “Live Like You Were Dying” and a few other big hits.

1. Brooks & Dunn Hillbilly Deluxe (42 weeks ) 894 k
2. Tim McGraw Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (12 weeks) 881 k
3. Toby Keith White Trash With Money (10 weeks) 774 k
4. Alan Jackson Precious Memories (16 weeks) 718 k
5. Josh Turner Your Man (21 weeks) 712 k

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