The Week in Music Sales: Industry Hits a Record Low
This week, though Taylor Swift's Speak Now remains at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for a sixth nonconsecutive week, it does so while earning a dubious honor. With just 52,000 copies sold (down 32%), it earns the distinction of notching the lowest-ever sales frame for a No. 1 album since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991.
Since SoundScan was established, the previous low had been set by the Dreamgirls soundtrack on the Jan. 27, 2007, chart, when it scanned slightly more than 60,000 units.
We came close to setting a new record last year, when Justin Bieber's My World 2.0 spent its fourth nonconsecutive week at No. 1 on the May 29 chart, shifting only a couple hundred copies more than the Dreamgirls low.
With album sales continuing to slide each year (in 2010 volume was down 12.7%), the new woeful record low shouldn't come as a surprise. And there's potential to break that record too, as no blockbuster albums are on the horizon.
That's in stark contrast to how 2010 got off to an unusually sexy start. This week a year ago, Ke$ha's Animal debuted at No. 1 with 152,000 and was followed in successive weeks by Vampire Weekend's Contra (No. 1; 124,000), the Hope for Haiti Now compilation (No. 1; 171,000) and Lady Antebellum's Need You Now (No. 1; 481,000).
But let's get back to this week's top 10 albums recap. Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday climbs two to No. 2 with 39,000 (down 36%) while Bruno Mars' Doo-Wops & Hooligans also rises, up four to No. 3-matching its original debut and peak-with 38,000 (down 15%). Daft Punk's TRON: Legacy soundtrack is up two spots to No. 4 (a new high) with 34,000 (down 37%). The next three slots are only separated by a few hundred units: Eminem's Recovery falls three to No. 5 (33,000; down 47%), Rihanna's Loud slips three to No. 6 (33,000; down 46%), and Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy slides two to No. 7 (33,000; down 43%). Holding at No. 8 is Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More (31,000; down 20%) while Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party rises four to No. 9 (29,000; down 15%).
Making a big move up the list this week is the Country Strong soundtrack, which flies 139 positions to No. 10 with 28,000 (up 477%). The film, which had been in limited release since Dec. 22, was released nationwide to more than 1,000 theaters on Jan. 7. Coincidentally, the Billboard 200's highest debut (at No. 48) is from the partner soundtrack to the movie, the iTunes-exclusive Country Strong: More Music From the Motion Picture, which enters with 9,000 (up 1,310%).
Meanwhile, over on the Digital Songs chart, Bruno Mars' Grenade continues to hold at No. 1 for a fourth week in a row, shifting 275,000 (down 35%). Katy Perry's Firework also maintains its position at No. 2 (230,000; down 42%). Enrique Iglesias' Tonight (I'm Lovin' You) rises two to No. 3 (192,000; down 29%), Wiz Khalifa's Black and Yellow is up three to No. 4 (186,000; down 29%), and the Black Eyed Peas' The Time (Dirty Bit) climbs three to No. 5 (181,000; down 30%). Ke$ha's We R Who We R drops three to No. 6 (174,000; down 46%), Lil Wayne's 6 Foot 7 Foot rises five spots to No. 7 (160,000; down 12%), and P!nk's Raise Your Glass slips four to No. 8 (158,000; down 42%). Closing out the top 10 is Rihanna's What's My Name?, down three to No. 9 (150,000; down 43%) and Taio Cruz's Dynamite, up three to No. 10 (125,000; down 31%).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Jan. 9) totaled 5.4 million units, down 24% compared with the sum last week (7.1 million) and 8% compared with the comparable sales week of 2010 (5.9 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 5.4 million, down 8% compared with the same total at this point last year (5.9 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 29.8 million downloads, down 29% compared with last week (42.1 million) and up 8% stacked next to the comparable week of 2010 (27.5 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 42.1 million, up 8% compared to the same total at this point last year (27.5 million).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2010 when: Vampire Weekend's Contra bowed atop the list with 124,000, pushing the previous week's No. 1-debuting set, Ke$ha's Animal, down to No. 3 (67,000; down 56%). Susan Boyle's I Dreamed a Dream held at No. 2 with 77,000 (down 18%).