WINNER OF THE WEEK: Unexpected surges. After lingering on the charts for a year, the Southern rock band Alabama Shakes take advantage of a great Saturday Night Live performance to launch its Boys & Girls album from Number 20 to Number Six. Its sales (33,000) weren’t crazy-strong, but they increased 10 percent in a slow week (see below). And chart-watchers should prepare for yet more dominance from Rihanna, whose single “Stay” leaped an impressive 126 spots, hitting Number Two, on BigChampagne’s Ultimate Chart, which tracks Internet phenomena and often predicts future sales. RiRi’s Unapologetic album also returned to the Top 10, hitting Number Nine with 29,000 sales, although that’s less impressive, because sales were down 29 percent.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: This time of year. The week after the Grammys is almost as uneventful as the week after New Year’s, and in lieu of new hit albums, here come Mumford & Sons, Bruno Mars, NOW 45, the Lumineers and Josh Groban (although his album is just two weeks old). Mumford’s Babel continues its post-Grammy bump, hitting Number One despite a sales drop of 66 percent (63,000 copies overall). After that comes Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox (down 44 percent, 41,000 copies, Number Two) and Groban’s All That Echoes (down 43 percent, 41,000, Number Three). A quick scan of upcoming releases (Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, David Archuleta and Crystal Bowersox are among the biggest names) shows this smashless-week trend may last for some time, so look for Mumford, Groban and Taylor Swift to stick around.
IS THE RECORD BUSINESS COMING BACK?: Depends on which data you prefer. Album sales are down seven percent so far this year (that’s bad). Digital-track sales are down two percent (that’s also bad, especially since this represents the future of the business). But thanks to growing subscription services like Spotify and Rhapsody, YouTube ads and licensing songs to movies, TV shows and ads, global recorded music revenues are up 0.3 percent (that’s good). It’s the first such jump, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, since 1999 – the year Napster and music piracy kicked in. On a related note, according to the NPD Group, the volume of illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing is down 26 percent this year. The CEO of the IFPI declared the business “well on the road to recovery,” but revenues have shrunk in the past decade by half.
Last week: Mumford & Sons Lead Post-Grammy Bounce