Hearty holidays for music biz

Garth Brooks leads charts for fourth consecutive week; yearly record sales top 618 mil

Garth Brooks’ “Sevens” was the bestselling album in the nation for the fourth consecutive week, and by doing so ties the Spice Girls for a four-week reign atop the nation’s album sales charts.

But Brooks failed to topple No Doubt, whose “Tragic Kingdom” disc was the year’s top-spot leader with six consecutive weeks at No. 1.

More than 678,0000 copies of Brooks’ Capitol Nashville disc went home with consumers compared with last week’s seven-day tally of 528,000 copies, according to sales data released Christmas Eve.

For the year to date, sales action was up more than 5% when compared with 1996. More than 618 million albums had been sold as of Dec. 21, compared with the 587.5-million disc tally logged during the same period in 1996. Volume for the seven-day period ended Dec. 21 was up 3%, as more than 31.5 million albums were sold in the frame, compared with the 30.7 million tally registered during the comparable period in 1996.

The Top 10 list changed little for the week ended Dec. 21 from the previous survey period and sales volume reflected the healthy environment in music retail for the holiday season. The brisk action again validated the industry’s time-tested tenet that the week before Christmas is usually the biggest.

With the exception of just three discs, every album in the top 200 posted increases over last week’s tallies. Sony Music closed the year on a high note, thanks to the ascension of Mariah Carey into the chart’s No. 10 spot.

As a result, the conglom can lay claim to having three of the industry’s top 10 albums, compared with a pair of discs from competing titans EMI, Warner and Polygram. Universal owned one entry.

Sony also checked in at No. 2 in market share for the week (17.1%) behind only ensconced leader WEA (17.8%) and ahead of EMD (14.2%). BMG (13.7%) Polygram (12.7%) and Universal (12.2%) rounded at the list of big-six congloms. Indie distribs owned 12.3% of the markets share for the week, according to SoundScan.

Since the Nov. 25 bow of “Sevens,” Brooks has aggressively promoted the disc with help from sold-out tour stops and the talkshow circuit. Brooks’ 1997 tour ranked sixth among the major roadshows with a $25 million gross and an attendance of north of 3.5 million people. (Daily Variety, Dec. 24).

Celine Dion’s “Let’s Talk About Love” logged its third consecutive week at No. 2 with more than 573,000 sold to fans, a sharp spike compared with the previous week’s tally of 348,000 copies.

The 550/Epic Records disc posted slightly higher sales than Barbra Streisand’s Columbia Records disc “Higher Ground,” which racked up 465,000 in sales, and remained at No. 3 for the third week in a row.

LeAnn Rimes’ “You Light Up My Life” moved nearly 408,000 copies during the week, earning the Curb Records disc the No. 4 spot. The total was a considerable boost over the previous week’s tally of 256,000 copies.

Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumber,” which rose two notches to check in at No. 5 thanks to sales of 369,000 copies, gave Universal Records its lone top 10 entry.

At No. 6 was Shania Twain’s Mercury Records offering “Come On Over” which went home with more than 285,000 devotees and as a result pushed the Spice Girls down one notch to No. 7.

More than 283,000 copies of “SpiceWorld,” the sophomore disc from the Virgin Records quintet, were sold during the survey period.

An upcoming appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and the release of the Columbia Pictures film on the group, as well as a satellite appearance on the Jan. 26 American Music Awards telecast, should breathe additional life into the disc.

Rounding out the chart’s top 10 were Mercury Records act Hanson, who checked in at No. 8 with sales of 255,000 copies of its “Middle of Nowhere” bow; Metallica’s Elektra Records bow “Re-Load” at No. 9 on 252,000 copies and Carey’s “Butterfly” at No. 10 for the second consecutive week on sales action of 241,000 copies.

Many of the acts in the week’s Top 10 will see their profiles enhanced considerably as the music industry heads into the crowded awards show season. As a result, newcomers to the sales listing could have a tough time breaking into the chart’s upper reaches.

Girl Power, the mantra frequently espoused by the Spice Girls, could have also summed up the artists behind the bestselling discs released during the year.

‘Spice’ works o’seas

The U.K group’s bow “Spice” led the list of the top 10 bestselling albums of 1997, as more than 5.1 million copies of the album were sold during the year. Jewel’s “Pieces of You” was No. 2 with 4.2 million copies sold through to consumers. (Since its 1996 release, more than 5.5 million copies of “Pieces” have been sold).

At No. 3 was Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy/Arista Records debut “No Way Out,” which sold more than 3.2 million units during the calendar year. It joined label-mate Notorious B.I.G’s “Life After Death” album — which was purchased by more than 3.1 million fans — as the two biggest selling rap albums released during the year.

“Bringing Down the Horse,” the Interscope Records disc from newcomers the Wallflowers was the fifth bestselling disc of 1997 with more than 3 million copies sold during the year.

Hanson’s “Middle of Nowhere” logged 3 million units and was the year’s sixth-bestselling disc; Dion’s Columbia Records disc “Falling Into You” checked in at No. 7 on sales of 2.99 million copies and the soundtrack to “Space Jam” was No. 8 on sales of 2.94 million units.

Brooks’ “Sevens” landed at No. 9 on 2.7 million units and No Doubt’s “Tragic Kingdom” checked in at No. 10 on sales of 2.66 million discs.

Rimes’ was the only artist to have two discs in the upper reaches of the bestseller list: “Blue,” which moved 2.7 million copies and “You Light Up My Life,” which went home with 2.6 million consumers during the year.

She earned the Nos. 11 and 12 berths, respectively, for her Curb Records offerings.

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