On music row: Sugarland sales sweet

Monday, August 4, 2008 at 2:41am

SoundScan scanners might see the sales chart’s July 27 numbers and almost be fooled into believing they were looking at charts from a few years ago — which is to say that things looked pretty good.

Miley Cyrus and Sugarland debuted with 371,000 and 314,000 units respectively, reminiscent of the way things were when country’s Top 75 currents totaled over 600,000 units every week, not counting debuts. Sugarland’s album sold enough to become the No. 1 country debut so far this year.

The Mamma Mia! soundtrack, Kid Rock and Lil Wayne filled in the rest of the five top spots on the Top 200 albums chart. Kid Rock’s current multi-format single, “All Summer Long” has boosted his album back into chart heaven, tallying release-to-date sales of more than 1.3 million units — and that’s without an official digital album release.

Looking at the bigger picture, country music sales remain off by 15 percent year to date while the industry overall is lagging by 11 percent.

Sugarland’s debut was especially strong considering the act sold 210,000 units when its previous CD debuted in September 2006. The new offering has also energized the duo’s catalog. Enjoy The Ride jumped 19 percent, and Twice The Speed of Life increased 10 percent. Last but not least, the Mercury act claimed the No. 1 position on the digital album sales chart with downloads of 36,953 units.

Taylor Swift — who is selling twice as many CDs every week since releasing her new Wal-Mart CD/DVD package and has grown accustomed to owning the No. 1 position — had to be content with the No. 2 and 3 positions on this week’s Country Current CDs.

Midas morphs business model

Midas Records, home to artists including Emerson Drive, Whiskey Falls and Adam Gregory, is transitioning to a production entity business model. Accordingly, the company’s five-person radio promotion team has exited.

The first move of the new arrangement has Midas entering into a long-term promotion and distribution agreement with Big Machine Records and No Strings Attached Entertainment for Gregory, currently working his debut country single, “Crazy Days.”

In making the announcement, Big Machine Records President and CEO Scott Borchetta said, “Adam is an artist who I would have signed to the label had I discovered him first! He is a great young singer, songwriter and performer and the Big Machinists are all very excited to be working with him. His forthcoming album is going to turn some heads.”

Gregory joins a roster at Big Machine that includes Taylor Swift, Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks (exclusive radio marketing partner), Jack Ingram, Danielle Peck and Fisher Stevenson.

“I’m really looking forward to a long relationship with the Big Machine family,” says Gregory. “The team at Midas Records has been wonderful to me and I’ve made some great friends at radio as a result.”

Additional agreements concerning Whiskey Falls and Emerson Drive are expected to be announced soon.

Opry adds to weekly offerings

The Grand Ole Opry is adding a new Thursday night show to its weekly schedule. Opry Country Classics will debut next March at the Opry House. The show will focus on standard songs performed by those who made them famous, such as Bill Anderson and Loretta Lynn, as well as showcase hits by artists such as the late Patsy Cline.

The Opry’s current line-up consists of shows on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Like those installments, the Classics show will be broadcast on 650 WSM-AM.

Creative Trust launches literary unit

Dan Raines’ artist and author management firm Creative Trust Inc. has partnered with 30-year publishing veteran Kathryn Helmers to form a new literary division. In her new role as managing partner of Creative Trust Literary Group, Helmers will bring along her roster of notable writers, including Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz) and Philip Yancey (What’s So Amazing About Grace).

They join a boutique list of CTI authors, including New York Times best-selling suspense novelist Ted Dekker (House, Adam) and premier women’s author and speaker Angela Thomas (Do You Think I’m Beautiful?).

Raines started Maryland Farms-based CTI in 1989 to manage music artists such as Steven Curtis Chapman and Third Day. He expanded into literary representation in 2001.

— © 2008 Music Row Communications Inc.

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