Taylor Swift (doesn’t she look pretty?! I like her with bangs) takes the #1 position on the Billboard 200 this week, but is this truly an accomplishment? With 52,000 albums sold this week T. Swift’s Speak Now becomes the lowest sales figure for a #1 album since Neilsen SoundScan began keeping track of album sales since 1991. The former “record” was held by the Dreamgirls Soundtrack in late January of 2007 with 60,000 albums sold.
Although this number really should not come as a surprise. January (especially the first and second week) is not known for big releases since most albums done by big artists were released in November or December to take advantage of holiday sales. As well, since people have spent all their money for the holidays, they’re usually not willing to be buying albums off-hand…especially since people rarely buy albums nowadays anyway.
I am surprised we didn’t see these numbers in January of 2009 and 2010, since the recession was at its worse then, but 2010 did see some big releases from Ke$ha, Vampire Weekend, and Lady Antebellum last January.
And yet we’re getting news that Britney Spears‘ new single “Hold It Against Me” is looking to sell over 400,000 copies this week making it even more clear that the music business is going to back to the 1940’s and 1950’s in that singles are selling more than albums. And while 2010 showed that albums are still making much more revenue than singles, I wonder how long it’ll be til those numbers shift. (I hope not soon, I love albums!)
Still 2011 is already shaping up to have some great music–although by aritsts that are probably not going to sell very much (Raphael Saadiq, Lykke Li, Yelle, Corrine Bailey Rae…). But only time will tell! People just need to realize you can’t just have a hit single, you need to be an actual artist that people want full albums from. You can read more about my theory on this when I dissected Bruno Mars’ single and album sales HERE.