Guest Post from Chuck Dauphin
Country Music Editor Billboard
You might not realize it, but the next two weeks are very important for the fiscal health of Country Music. On Tuesday, Jason Aldean will release his latest disc, Night Train. Then, the next week, Big Machine will roll out Red, the brand new album from reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Taylor Swift.
To say that these releases are important in the world of Country Music is to say that Jessica Northey sometimes works on a computer. It’s very crucial that both of these albums perform well.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that album sales are not what they have been in the past. While Music City has never sneezed at a Gold Album (500,000 units), it was all about the Platinum. The 1990’s were such a boom time for the format that it seemed that everybody was selling a million copies time in and time out.
The trend continued into the 2000s, as well. But somewhere about 2005 or 2006, the gravy train slowed down a bit. Artists that had sold 500-700,000k their first week were selling half as much. Some say the music isn’t as good. Respectfully, I beg to differ. Now, I’m not going to say that there isn’t some stuff there that isn’t going to hold up. But, that was the case in 1962, 1972, 1982, and so on and so forth. But, when critics simply say the music isn’t as good, that’s “malarkey.” (I just couldn’t resist throwing that word out there!)
Technically, we have (to some extent) moved back to a singles-oriented world. Look at the amazing numbers that the Big Machine team have put together releasing several different cuts from Red. People are still buying music. We just have to figure out how to get them to buy – or download albums again. I will be the first to say that I miss record stores. I was fortunate to grow up in an age that included Port O’Call, Record Barn, Camelot, and Tower. But, that is simply musings from a dinosaur. We are in a digital world, and we’ve got to figure out how to make the music viable.
So, that leads us to Aldean and Swift. Two different musical acts, but both acts can help the format and its’ bottom line over the next few weeks. Aldean has a very active fan base, and his latest single. “Take A Little Ride” hit the top of the chart in ten weeks – an unheard of amount of time these days. Swift’s last disc, Speak Now, scanned over one million units in its’ first week. I see no reason why these albums won’t deliver.
As someone who makes their living from this business, the success of artists such as Jason Aldean and Taylor Swift is important to everyone. And, not just the artists. Publicists. Record Promotion teams, and yes, even writers. It’s a tough time in this business. Record companies are consolidating staffs, and cutting positions as never before. These people are just as passionate, and just as talented as anyone. As the old saying goes, tough times call for drastic measures. So, Aldean and Swift fans, support your artists over the next two weeks…..and buy a few more discs – Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum have excellent new holiday discs out, Jamey Johnson has an incredible tribute album to Buddy Cannon, and Jerrod Niemann has one of the most musically adventurous projects out there that Nashville has seen in a long time. The music is there, let’s support it!