Boy band breaks Backstreet mark with 'Strings'

First-week sales of ‘N Sync’s latest album more than doubled the previous record for a week of album purchases, as more than 2.4 million units of “No Strings Attached” were snapped up by fans, according to sales data released Wednesday.

The previous one-week record was held by ‘N Sync’s boy-band rivals the Backstreet Boys, whose 1999 album “Millennium” posted sales of 1.13 million copies. Both “Millennium” and “No Strings Attached” were released by Jive.

“We did a great job of upfront marketing and pointing consumers to the street date,” Jive G.M. Tom Carrabba told Daily Variety. “We estimate that we did about 48% of our business the first day.

“We’ve tapped into a very active teen-audience fan base, but there’s no doubt that the Backstreet Boys blazed the trail here,” Carrabba noted. “Now there are more people writing about these types of acts. Latenight TV shows are more willing to expose them. There are also more publications with these acts on their covers, and MTV — with its ‘Total Request Live’ show — certainly has embraced this phenomenon.”

‘N Sync manager Johnny Wright credited Radio Disney and the Internet for pushing the album beyond the 2 million barrier.

“Our goals were to debut at No. 1 and to distinguish ourselves from the Backstreet Boys by defining our own sound — something our previous label (RCA) and management (Lou Pearlman) were reluctant to do,” Wright told Daily Variety. “But we didn’t set out to break any sales records.”

Elsewhere in the week ended March 26, veteran rapper Ice Cube’s latest Priority Records’ effort, “Vol. 2 — War & Peace” (Peace), sold more than 185,000 copies for No. 3; heavy metal-mongers Pantera’s “Reinventing the Steel” (East West/Elektra) sold more than 161,000 units for No. 4; and the rap ‘n’ wrastlin’ compilation “WWF Aggression-Rap Versions” (Priority) moved more than 109,000 units to land at No. 8.

Other significant debuts were posted by rap group the Murderers, whose “Irv Gotti Presents the Murderers” (Def Jam) topped the 80,000-unit mark; female rapper Trina, whose “Da Baddest B***h” (Atlantic) racked up sales in excess of 40,000 copies; and contemporary gospel artist Fred Hammond & the Radical for Christ Choir’s “Purpose by Design” (Verity), which moved more than 33,000 copies.

The biggest gains for the week were posted by rapper Jay-Z’s “Life and Times of S. Carter” (Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam), up nearly 16,000 units, and crooner Enrique Iglesias’ “Enrique” (Interscope), up nearly 8,000 units.

Paced by ‘N Sync, BMG claimed the lion’s share of the week’s current album market with 35.1%, followed by the Universal Music Group, 20.9%; Sony, 12.1%; Warner, 11.9%; and EMI, 7.6 %.

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