There was considerable grumbling among eMusic’s 400,000-ish subscribers last year when the formerly indie-centric music download service enacted a dramatic increase in monthly user subscription fees in exchange for posting a few good chunks of the Sony catalogue. Thankfully, the service endured the backlash long enough to strike up another major-label deal, this time with Warner Music Group (and no additional price hike – so far).
Country superstars Brooks & Dunn are breaking up. They will release a hits collection this fall, followed by a tour next year. It seems that last year’s Cowboy Town will be their final studio album.
From their official website:
To Our Fans:
After 20 years of making music and riding this trail together, we have agreed as a duo that it’s time call it a day. This ride has been everything and more than we could ever have dreamed …. We owe it all to you, the fans. If you hear rumors, don’t believe them, it’s just time.
We will release our #1s … and Then Some on September 8th and come see you all one more time in 2010, with The Last Rodeo Tour (dates to be announced).
In honor of this classic nineties act, a Starter Kit will follow later tonight. In the meantime, here’s a video clip to help you get ready for “The Long Goodbye”:
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:
- 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
Thus far, 2009’s releases have done little to fire up the charts, with most of this year’s strongest-selling albums being holdovers from 2008. While Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, and Keith Urban have sold strongly, the chart remains dominated by last year’s releases from Taylor Swift, Sugarland, Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, and Jamey Johnson.
So what’s left for 2009? Here’s what we know so far:
- Carrie Underwood will release her third studio album on November 3, with a lead single going to radio this fall. Her previous set, Carnival Ride, is nearing sales of 3 million, and produced four #1 singles and a #2 single, all five of which were certified gold in their own right.
- George Strait will release Twang on August 11. It’s the follow-up to his 33rd platinum album Troubadour, a set which produced his 43rd #1 single and earned him the first Grammy of his career, along with a pair of CMA trophies (Single and Album)
- Miranda Lambert is readying Revolution for September 29. Lead single “Dead Flowers” is struggling at radio, but that’s never slowed her down at retail anyway.
- Reba McEntire’s Valory debut Keep on Lovin’ You arrives August 18. Lead single “Strange” is approaching the top ten.
- Willie Nelson releases another standards collection called American Classic on August 25.
- Brooks & Dunn’s new studio album streets on September 8, preceded by lead single “Indian Summer.” The duo’s previous set, Cowboy Town, was their first to fall short of gold certification.
Country Universe is sending out good wishes and prayers for the health of country music legend Ferlin Husky, who has been hospitalized with serious ailments.
Husky is best known for the gospel classic “Wings of a Dove”, which spent ten weeks at #1 in 1960. His other chart-toppers are “Gone”, which also spent ten weeks at #1, and his debut single, “A Dear John Letter.” He was the featured artist on that record, with Jean Shepard being the lead artist, and it spent a cool six weeks at #1.
Husky’s popularity at his peak was not limited to the radio dial, as he appeared in eighteen films and several television shows. At 83, he remains an active performer. Here’s hoping he heals up soon and gets back on the road, where he still has fans waiting to hear him sing his classics, five decades after he began his long and successful career.
You can watch Husky perform some of his classics after the jump.
I certainly didn’t expect to create a third Country Universe post on Michael Jackson, but longtime readers know that this site would enter an extended period of mourning should anything ever happen to Dolly Parton.
She posted a video diary today about Jackson’s death. As usual, she radiates humanity and warmth. Those who are fortunate enough to have Parton as a character witness on judgment day should count their lucky stars!
George Strait’s Troubadour has been certified platinum, his 33rd album to reach that sales mark.
How rare is this accomplishment? He trails only Elvis Presley (45) and The Beatles (39) among all recording artists.
Strait’s nearest country competitors are Alabama (20), Reba McEntire (19), Kenny Rogers (19) and Garth Brooks (16).
George Strait is one of those artists that I buy every album of. I remember being amazed how many albums he already had released when I became a fan in the nineties. It’s good to see him still going strong.
How many Strait albums do you own? What other artists do you buy every release from?
The nominations for the 8th Annual Americana Music Association Awards have been announced:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Real Animal, by ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO
Written in Chalk, by BUDDY & JULIE MILLER
Jason Isbell & The 40 Unit, by JASON ISBELL & THE 40 UNIT
Midnight At The Movies, by JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
NEW & EMERGING ARTIST
BAND OF HEATHENS
JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE
It has finally cooled off here in Southern California, so I’m headed out to the Stagecoach Festival in Indio, California this weekend, April 25-26! The country cousin of Coachella, Stagecoach is now in its third year and will be playing host to nearly 40 acts, including Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band and Miranda Lambert.
I’m excited for the festival, particularly because it hosts a mix of country music, from mainstream country to bluegrass, folk, roots rock and alt-country. With three different stages – appropriately named “Mane,” “Palomino” and “Mustang” – set on the beautiful Empire Polo fields in Indio, the Festival provides a fantastic opportunity to check out the entire gamut of styles and personalities in country music.