Crunching the Numbers: July 2008, Part 3

Today’s entry looks at how some new artists are faring with their albums.

James Otto, Sunset Man
Release: April 8, 2008
Sales to Date: 246,000

It’s not his first album, as his 2003 debut set sank quietly, despite a great single in “The Ball” and an opening slot for Shania Twain’s Up! tour.  But the once also-ran of the Muzik Mafia is now giving all of the other members a run for their money, as he’s moved an impressive number of units in just three months.  If he keeps up this pace, he’ll outsell the most recent albums by Gretchen Wilson and Big & Rich by the end of the year.

Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum
Release: April 15, 2008
Sales to Date: 173,300

They’ve already won an ACM award and have enjoyed a top ten hit with their first single, “Love Don’t Live Here.”  But even with both of those accomplishments on their side, selling 173k in three months is an impressive feat.    Like Otto, their album has stayed in the top fifteen, even as their first hit fades from the radio and a new one has yet to replace it in heavy rotation.   I actually have a sneaking suspicion the average country fan doesn’t know Lady Antebellum from Little Big Town, but that’s just me.

Luke Bryan, I’ll Stay Me
Release: August 14, 2007
Sales to Date: 166,300

Powered by his good-natured drinking hit “All My Friends Say”, Bryan sold a decent amount of records.   Second single “We Drove in Trucks” didn’t quite replicate the success of its predecessor, but he’s having more luck with the third single, “Country Man.”    I imagine that by the end of this album’s run, he’ll have enough of a solid base underneath him for his second project.

Chuck Wicks, Starting Now
Release: January 22, 2008
Sales to Date: 93,000

With one of the biggest breakthrough singles in the past year, it’s surprising to see that Chuck Wicks has sold so few units in the past six months.  Weekly sales are barely north of 1k these days.   Wicks might be the textbook example of how sales patterns have changed in the digital age.  “Stealing Cinderella” is one of those songs that ends up in weddings, embraced by people who wouldn’t normally embrace the artist.   I love Lee Ann Womack, but if “I Hope You Dance” was released today, the album of the same name would not sell three million copies.

Ashton Shepherd, Sounds So Good
Release: March 4, 2008
Sales to Date: 44,900

There was a lot of hype surrounding this album, particularly given the circumstances under which she received her recording contract and the rush recording and release of the album.   Radio support was only enough to produce a top twenty hit in “Takin’ Off This Pain”, though the title track is now at radio.   The album’s only been out for three months, so there’s still room for growth.  MCA just needs to stay strong behind the project.


  1. “The Ball” by James Otto was a great song. I think James has good chance at becoming a star. He is a great singer, good song writer, and he has an appealing personality. Add all that to the fact that solo male artists tend to have a leg up in the country music world, and Mr. Otto chances of sticking around for a while look good.

    I am a supporter of Ashton Shepherd, but I am disappointed in these sales numbers. With buzz surrounding this album it should be doing better. That said if MCA keeps pushing Ashton, radio might finally relent and actually start playing her songs. I think she is heading out with Sugarland on tour. Hopefully, that will help her raise her profile.

    I think Lady A has aided their cause by doing a great job of marketing themselves on the Web. Their MySpace page is great. Even before they had a single out they were doing Webispodes (Web videos) that showed off their music and their personalities. These Webispodes make you feel you know the artists better, and makes you want to support them even more.

    Lady A’s 6-28-08 Webispode shows, among other things, Hillary talking about singing “Does He Love You” in concert with Reba McEntire for the first time. Most of Lady A’s fans know Hillary’s mom, Linda Davis, was Reba’s original duet partner on “Does He Love You”. To have the chance to share Hillary’s reaction to her stepping into her mother place is something many fans would enjoy.

    By sharing more of themselves with their fans, Lady A makes more fans. Those fans in turn buy Lady A’s album, and spread the word about their music.

  2. Much as I love Ashton Shepherd based on this first effort, I have a feeling her sales numbers will always be a notch lower than some of her competitors’ simply because she’s so polarizing. A lot of the pop-country fans seem really turned off by her twangy style, though I’d love to be proven wrong. If radio will give “Sounds So Good” a real chance I think a lot of older country fans will adore it. We internet users have been hearing the hype on Shepherd for months now, but we’ve got to remember that much of the radio-listening public is not nearly so attuned to each new artist who comes along (and there are quite a few for them to keep up with); I think there are still many, many more casual country fans who still have no idea who she is. So I say give it time and see how it pans out.

  3. Ashton should take heart from Miranda Lambert’s career. She started off slow with radio, but with enough critical support and consistently good material, radio finally seems to have “gotten her” and with one of her “crazy” songs too! Miranda was number one on my local station this week.

    Jonathan, I agree with your comments. I’m not a Lady A fan, but I have heard of them – you simply can’t help it given their web presence. I think they took note of what Taylor Swift was doing and it has apparently paid off!

    It would be interesting to follow these 5 artists throughout the next year or two, and see where their careers go and whether certain singles really help send their careers to the next level.

  4. As a stats dork, I love these numbers reports. Keep it up! Now, I don’t wish anyone a lack of success, but I do appreciate the buying public exercising their free market will on the one piece of country-pop dullness on this list (Wicks). Now if they’d just come around on Ashton.

  5. I’m disappointed in Ashton’s album sales, but not too surprised either. Like Dan Said, she is rather polarizing. As evidenced in another thread here, people are turned off by her twang, which is unfortunate since we are, after all, listening to country music. I hope her career is at least as successful as Miranda’s, though I’m thinking Miranda may be secretly wishing that her success was a bit higher.

    As for Chuck Wicks, I don’t think we’ll be hearing him for long. “Stealing Cinderella” was obviously one of those instant hits due to it’s father/Daughter dance potential at weddings, like Heartland. To me, that’s a cop out way to arrive onto the music scene and a great way to not be taken seriously as an artist as a whole.

    I’m pulling for James Otto and hope that his sales continue to climb. I’m afraid his new single isn’t too strong though, so he may struggle for a bit again.
    I guess I could take or leave Luke Bryan. I enjoyed “All My Friends Say”, but suspect that he may fade into the oblivion of all of the other male artists. His songs will have to be strong, because his voice is a little forgettable. His voice does remind me of Daron Norwood…does anyone remember him? Probably not.

  6. As soon as I heard Ashton Shepherd….I knew that I’d found one that would stay with me for life. Her twang…her glorious twang is so penetrating and REAL!!! Go slow and steady Ashton…you will make it to the top!!

  7. i totally agree with you rodney – and those legs… james otto’s “sunset man” is a fine album from every angle you look at it – he reminds me very much of travis tritt and i know a lot of worse people to be compared to. lady antebellum is ok but essentially overhyped and overrated – the pony trio showed better tricks on their debut. luke bryan still has quite a bit of potential left and i look forward to another record by him. chuck wicks sings the cinderalla song beautifully but then what?

  8. Gotta admit I’m not so interested in any of these acts but am kinda surprised by the sales numbers. (I too love this series!)
    Just MHO but all of these acts seem pretty temporary. I’m sure they will find their nitch somewhere with someone but the current tide of music reminds me of the mid-90’s when no one was really original but all more of the same with a different name.

    I agree that of all of them, James Otto will probably carry on with a following.
    I also agree with Chuck Wicks “dad/daughter dance song”. I am so over that formula… along with the three stage song of something that happened as a child, then as an adult, and then in the elder years. I can not turn the radio dial fast enough!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.