There has been rather more interest in last week’s Country Albums Sales Chart than normal due to the fact that two of our favourite artists released albums on the same date, and were going head to head with each other. On Friday 24th February, Little Big Town released ‘The Breaker’ and Aaron Watson released ‘Vaquero’.
You will probably be aware of the back story here. LBT are signed with Capitol Records in Nashville. Watson is an independent artist based in Texas who proudly remains the first independent artist to attain a number one position with his last album, appropriately named ‘The Underdog’. It’s country music’s David and Goliath. The little guy up against Music Row, and we were intrigued to see that ‘Vaquero’ retained the top position on the iTunes sales lists all last week. Could Aaron actually beat LBT?
We now have the first week’s sales figures courtesy of US blog ‘Roughstock’ and the full list is linked here.
The chart relates to sales only and excludes streaming, and you can see that LBT had a 7000 majority and were the week’s biggest sellers. Aaron Watson will have to settle for runner-up this time but let’s put all this into perspective. He has no real promotional budget apart his own efforts and rarely has any videos released to aid the sales figures. What is certain is that Mrs Watson’s credit card will be paid in full this month! Both great albums however, and many congratulations to Little Big Town who spent many years trying to break into the big league.
Looking beyond the top two there is one striking feature. The sales figures generally are pitiful compared to the numbers that were being sold a few years ago. We are sure that first weeks sales of 43,000 units 10 years ago would put many artists in fear of losing a record contract. It’s little wonder that traditional record stores are becoming a novelty these days.
There are only two albums that have sold over a million copies (the Justin Moore figures are a typo. He has sold 105,870). Chris Stapleton is still selling in huge numbers relatively and Luke Bryan remains the most popular mainstream country artist.
The other ‘A team’ artists tend to shift in the region of half a million copies and this is probably the bench mark which decides success or failure. Blake’s just about got there although this was in part due to his label almost giving them away in promotional deals. Keith Urban is almost there with ‘Ripcord’.
The one stand out underachiever has to be Kenny Chesney. His ‘Cosmic Halleujah’ album was released at the end of October 2016. It has sold just shy of 200,000 copies and seems to have run out of steam. Maren Morris is matching him for sales despite her ‘new artist’ status and Jason Aldean’s ‘They Don’t Know’ has already surged past and continues to outsell on a weekly basis, and was released just a few weeks before ‘Cosmic Halleujah’. Kenny is the master concert sales magician but he seems to have lost the knack of releasing albums that sell in huge numbers.
At the other end of the scale we are a little disappointed with the sales for William Michael Morgan’s ‘Vinyl’ album. 23,900 and weekly sales of 400 units is surely poor reward for someone who has done more than most to put solid traditional country music back where it belongs. ‘Missing’ is also struggling as a follow up to ‘I Met A Girl’. Country radio seems to be ignoring WMM.
The same cannot said for Kane Brown, whose debut album has already surpassed 100,000 sales and is still holding up on a weekly basis, and Brantley Gilbert who has proved yet again that his strong loyal fan base will always be there for him.