Album sales rocket after Jackson's death

Physical product sales help other titles as well

NASHVILLE -- In the first full week after Michael Jackson's death, total album sales shot up to nearly 7 million units, a level not seen since early April.

Track sales dropped 1% but had risen 9% the prior week, the first full week after Jackson's death. Track sales in each of the past two weeks exceeded 23 million units, a level not seen since the week ending April 12. Variable pricing took effect April 7 and weekly unit sales dropped and had remained about 10% down from pre-variable pricing levels.

In general, albums fared better last week as Sony Music pushed physical product to retail and Jackson received less media coverage. In the week of Jackson's death, consumers flocked to online retail, but the traffic did not benefit other titles. While digital album sales rose 12% that week, total album sales dropped 8% and sales of most current releases languished.

Last week, the rush to physical product appears to have driven total sales and helped other titles. Mass merchants were up 31% and accounted for three-quarters of the weeks' total gain. Chain stores also had a good week, rising 12%. Digital retailers, on the other hand, dropped 4% as sales of Jackson's catalog fell sharply. Digital sales of "Thriller" were down 59%, "The Essential Michael Jackson" dropped 34% and "Number Ones" fell 20%.

As the graph below shows, only 5.2% of the top 200 current albums, an incredibly low percentage, had a week-over-week gain in the week of Jackson's death. In the following week, nearly 29% of current albums sold more than in the previous week. A figure in the 30%-40% range is normal.
comments powered by Disqus