Any chance Adele could come out of whatever British domestic utopia she’s living in to (re-)rescue the record business? Because, no offense to the Frozen soundtrack, things are bleak out there. Albums are down 17 percent, singles are down 13 percent and . . . well, just read on for the gory details.
BEYOND FROZEN’S BIG SALES, SALES REMAIN FROZEN: The smash Disney soundtrack sold another 133,000 copies and is in its 10th week at Number One, but the Number Two album, Pharrell’s Girl, sold an anemic 29,000 copies — and that’s after a sales jump of 18 percent. That’s the lowest sales for a Number Two album on the Billboard album charts in the SoundScan era, which began in 1991. After that comes new boy band 5 Seconds of Summer’s EP She Looks So Perfect, with 26,000 (a sales drop of 82 percent); Christian rock band MercyMe’s Welcome to the New, also with 26,000; and Black Label Society’s Catacombs of the Black Vatican, with 26,000. Apparently 26,000 is the magic number for so-so-selling chart debuts.
HOW HITS GET MADE, STARRING SHAZAM AND SOMO: Earlier this year, I did some research on Shazam, the popular music-identification app whose charts frequently predict hit singles. The example I received from Avery Lipman, founder and president of Republic Records, was SoMo, a Texas rapper whose song “Ride” blew up in his home state. Radio play there begat airplay in Baton Rouge, Phoenix and elsewhere, and the song began to appear in the geographical data Shazam makes available via its iPad app. Today, SoMo’s self-titled album makes its debut at Number Six on Billboard‘s album charts — 23,000 first-week sales isn’t gigantic, but “Ride” has 3.5 million YouTube views and 7.8 million Spotify streams.
WHAT WILL APRIL 2024 LOOK LIKE? NUMBER TWO WITH 14 SALES?: I’d like to put this week’s godawful album sales in perspective: Almost exactly 10 years ago, in the Billboard of April 10, 2004, the Number One album sold 1.1 million copies — Usher’s Confessions. An anomaly, you say? Unfair to compare one of the decade’s biggest-selling albums to the weak-selling stuff on today’s charts? Let’s go down a bit further — Number Two was Now That’s What I Call Music 15, which sold 343,500 copies; Number Three was Guns N’ Roses’ Greatest Hits, with 169,000. In conclusion: Top Three of April 10, 2004, 1.6 million; Top Three of April 16, 2014, 188,000.