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Album Sales Hit a New Low Last Week

Second time this year that sales have dropped below 5 million

August 19, 2010 1:02 PM ET

The struggling music industry hit a new low last week: Only 4.95 million albums were sold in the U.S. between August 8th and 14th — the lowest total since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking numbers in 1991. The one other time album sales fell short of five million copies? Earlier this year, during the week ending May 30th, when 4.98 million albums sold.

Sales ebbed despite another big week for the Number One album, Eminem's Recovery, which moved 133,000 copies, becoming 2010's second double-platinum. (Lady Antebellum's Need You Now has still accumulated more sales.) But Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, which dropped to number two in its second week, fell dramatically, from 156,000 to 52,000 copies. The Camp Rock 2 soundtrack, which came in at number three, sold only 41,000 copies.

Next week is looking up, slightly, with new albums from Ray LaMontagne and Iron Maiden. Albums due from Taylor Swift, Kanye West, T.I., Susan Boyle and Michael Jackson should also boost the rest of 2010.

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Song Stories

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Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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