In a Down Record Market, Country Is Up 11 Percent

Although overall album sales this year are down 9 percent from those of 2001, country album sales are up by 11 percent over last year. Among 2002’s Top 10 best-selling albums, four are by country artists. These figures have just been released by Nielsen Soundscan, the organization that keeps tabs on actual music sales. The period covered is from Jan. 1 to Dec. 22, 2002. A report covering the complete sales year will be released Jan. 2, 2003.

This year, country albums sold a total of 73,685,000 copies, compared to last year’s 66,499,000. Sales dipped for all other types of music, specifically alternative, classical, jazz, Latin, metal, rhythm & blues, rap, Christian/gospel, soundtrack and new age.

This year’s best-selling album is Eminem’s Eminem Show, which moved 7,420,840 copies. It was followed by Nelly’s Nellyville (4,757,876); Avril Lavigne’s Let Go (3,858,398); the Dixie ChicksHome (3,430,694); the soundtrack to the Eminem film 8 Mile (3,185,537); Pink’s Missundaztood (3,049,865); Ashanti’s Ashanti (3,049,516); Alan Jackson ’s Drive (2,998,114); the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2,704,299); and Shania Twain ’s Up! (2,646,107). It should be noted that some of these album have been available all year, while others came out relatively late in 2002.

Shania Twain’s Come On Over continues to be the best-selling album of the “Soundscan Era,” which runs from 1991 to date. It has sold 14,490,470 copies. The other nine of the Top 10 are Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill (14,084,425); Metallica’s Metallica (13,332,320); Backstreet Boys’ Millennium (12,030,804); the soundtrack to The Bodyguard (11,714,440); Santana’s Supernatural (11,165,842); Creed’s Human Clay (11,078,203); ‘N Sync’s No Strings Attached (11,023,057); Celine Dion’s Falling Into You (10,525,873); and Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time (10,416,070).

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to