In a low-sales era, what’s a hit in music?, From NY Daily News

On a sidenote I read the paper with this article today and they had a good sized pic of Hard Candy which they declared a “Hit”.

In a low-sales era, what’s a hit in music? 

The economic downturn may represent a grave new world for most folks, but not those in the music industry.

Way before world markets began circling the drain, record companies saw their sales dive into free fall. Album purchases – at least the legal kind – have been quickly eroding for most of this decade. (Thank you, Napster and all your peer-to-peer file-sharing offspring). 

Here’s just the latest example. On this week’s Billboard 200 album chart, Usher’s “Here I Stand” falls below the No. 100 mark after selling just over 1 million copies. His previous album, “Confessions,” sold nine times that figure just four years ago. 

Let’s face it: We’re never going back to those halcyon days. Certainly, we’re not going back to the go-go days of the ’90s, when you had more than a dozen performers who could move more than 10 million copies of a given CD – an era crowned by Shania Twain’s “Come on Over,” which pushed a whopping 15.5 million copies. That figure made it the largest-selling CD of the entire Nielsen/SoundScan era, which began in 1991, when the industry began using verifiable sales tallies. 

By contrast, this year’s top-selling album has moved an anemic 2.5 million copies (Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III”). While more than two months remain in ’08, it’s hugely unlikely that Wayne will pick up the extra 1.1 million cash-register rings he’d need to beat the top seller of ’07: Josh Groban’s “Noel,” which topped 3.6 million platters. Nor will he come near the peaks of ’06 (“High School Musical 2” at 3.7 mil) or ’05 (Mariah Carey’s “The Adventures of Mimi” at 5 million). 

In fact, there has been a steady downturn in total sales for the top five albums in each year of this decade, ranging from a high of 22.3 million in 2001 to an ’08 figure that will struggle to reach 10 million. 

Pondering all this could either make you look longingly at the ledge or flip the script and view the whole situation in a glass-half-full kinda way. Being an optimist, I’ve decided to go the latter route, and so hereby offer a modest proposal for redefining success in our new age of austerity. 

Gazing down the Billboard 200, I’ve established a fresh standard for a smash, or even for a hit. In calibrating this, I axed any albums that have lingered on Billboard’s list for more than a year, as they essentially date from another, happier era. (Only a few entries qualify, including Nickelback’s “All the Right Reasons,” which has sold nearly 7 million copies but started its run nearly three years ago, and Daughtry’s self-titled debut, which sold 4.2 million copies but began moving product nearly two years back.) 

Shorn of those entries, there’s just one act on the current top 200 that has broken the 3 million mark (Alicia Keys). Even the most hyped and exposed of albums of ’08 – like Mariah Carey’s “E=MC2” and Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” – haven’t been able to reach the 2 million bar. Given this, here’s how we should evaluate top sales now. 

THE NEW DEFINITIONS…

BLOCKBUSTER: 2 MILLION & UP
The equivalent of 5 million, or more, back in 2000

Alicia Keys “As I Am” 3.6 million
Lil Wayne “Tha Carter III” 2.6M
Carrie Underwood “Carnival Ride” 2.3M
Kid Rock “Rock n Roll Jesus” 2.1M
Rascal Flatts “Still Feels Good” 2M

SMASH: 1 MILLION & UP
The equivalent of 3 million in 2000

Garth Brooks “Ultimate Hits” 1.9 million 
Chris Brown “Exclusive” 1.81M
Coldplay “Viva la Vida” 1.81M
Jack Johnson “Sleep Throughthe Static” 1.4M
Leona Lewis “Spirit” 1.18M
Metallica “Death Magnetic” 1.11M (in just four weeks)
Mariah Carey “E=MC2” 1.1M 
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss “Raising Sand” 1.09M
“Mamma Mia!” soundtrack 1.05M 
Usher “Here I Stand” 1.04M
“Camp Rock” soundtrack 1.034M
Led Zeppelin “Mothership” 995,000
The Jonas Brothers “A Little Bit Longer” 992,000
Miley Cyrus “Breakout” 953,000
Jordin Sparks “Jordin Sparks” 932,833
Sugarland “Love on the Inside” 922,000

HIT: 500,000 & UP
The equivalent of a million-selling, platinum CD in 2000

“Alvin and the Chipmunks” soundtrack 876,772 
OneRepublic “Dreaming Out Loud” 791,000
Disturbed “Indestructible” 756,000
Rick Ross “Trilla” 684,000
Madonna “Hard Candy” 654,000
Keith Urban “Greatest Hits” 632,000
Radiohead “In Rainbows” 625,000
George Strait “Troubador” 579,000
3 Doors Down “3 Doors Down” 578,000
Seether “Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces” 559,000
Alan Jackson “Good Time” 552,000
Danity Kane “Welcome to the Dollhouse” 546,000
Duffy “Rockferry” 528,000
Plies “Definition of Real” 520,000
Young Jeezy “The Recession” 516,000
Trace Adkins “Greatest Hits Volume 2” 508,000
jfarber@nydailynews.com

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Posted on October 26, 2008, in Madonna, Music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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