Music biz singing happy sales tune

Better than expected sales has industry buzzing

After weeks of album sales that paled when compared with 2004, the week everyone in the music business was waiting for arrived and exceeded expectations. Big releases from big groups made for a terrific mood at the sales counter: Coldplay, Black Eyed Peas, White Stripes and Shakira combined to sell 1.4 million albums in five days.

The question now is whether any of these albums can develop legs.

Coldplay’s “X&Y” (Capitol), the third studio album from the mopey British quartet, sold 737,000 copies in the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It is the second-biggest sales week of the year for an album, behind only the opening frame for 50 Cent’s “The Massacre.” It’s also the highest total for a rock act since U2 sold 839,000 copies of “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” (Interscope) in late November.

The album also saw the biggest first-week sales yet of any digital album, with digital album purchases making more than 8% of total U.S. sales. “X&Y” was the first digital pre-order, available on the iTunes Music Store, which drove it to No. 1 in every iTunes territory worldwide.

Coldplay’s two previous albums, “A Rush of Blood to the Head” and “Parachutes,” were Nos. 1 and 2 among pop catalog discs. Album’s first single, “Speed of Sound,” continues to be a slow riser, though the release last week of a video should help its charting.

Coldplay coverage

For the last month, Coldplay has blitzed the media in the U.K. and the U.S. with interviews; TV perfs, including a VH1 “Storytellers” segment; an AOL concert perf; and special midnight sales at U.S. record stores.

“X&Y” also topped the British album chart, posting the second-highest opening-sales week. Album sold 464,471 copies in Britain, behind only Oasis’ 1997 album “Be Here Now,” which sold 696,000.

In second place was Black Eyed Peas’ “Monkey Business” (A&M), which sold 291,000, driven by the top five single “Don’t Phunk With My Heart.” The follow-up to “Elephunk,” which included the ubiquitous “Let’s Get It Started,” was similar to Coldplay in that it significantly broke the act’s sales record. Black Eyed Peas’ previous best was 59,000; Coldplay’s “A Rush of Blood to the Head” once sold 141,000 copies in a week.

Rock duo the White Stripes, which have done limited media appearances to promote their fifth disc, saw “Get Behind Me Satan” (V2) sell 189,000 copies in the opening stanza. Their last album, “Elephant,” pushed the Stripes into the budding-star ranks; Jack and Meg White have been touring Latin America, head next to Russia and Europe and start a U.S. trek July 29 in San Diego.

Spanish panache

Colombian singer Shakira’s disc “Fijacion Oral Vol. 1” (Epic) sold 157,000 copies — the highest total in SoundScan’s 15 years for a Spanish-language album.

Mariah Carey’s “Emancipation of Mimi” (Island Def Jam), last week’s No. 1, slid to No. 5 on sales of 151,000.

U.S. album sales were up nearly 7% over last week and about even with the same week last year. The year’s sales total — 250 million units — is behind 2004 by 8%.

The first two weeks of May were the last time the top five consisted of albums selling more than 100,000 copies each. But of the seven discs posting those numbers, only Carey’s “Emancipation” and 50 Cent’s “The Massacre,” which have had strong singles, have demonstrated true staying power.

Amerie’s “Touch,” which sold 124,000 and opened at No. 5 seven weeks ago, is now No. 105 and sold only 10,000 copies last week. Bruce Springsteen’s “Devils & Dust,” which had sales of 327,000 in its first two weeks, has sold 148,000 since and only 15,000 copies last week. Bobby Valentino, who sold 180,000 copies a week before Amerie’s release, has sold 200,000 units since. Nine Inch Nails sold 272,000 between May 3 and 8 but was down to 26,000 last week.

Backstreet heat

Next week’s sales chart is expected to see the Backstreet Boys doing about 300,000 and the Foo Fighters’ “In Your Honor” selling about 50,000 fewer. If seven albums can keep their totals above 100,000, it will be a good omen for the music business.

This week, six other albums debuted in the top 50. The bargain-priced 50-track “2005 Warped Tour Compilation” (Side One Dummy), featuring MxPx, Pennywise and Flogging Molly, sold 53,000 (No. 13). Finch, out of Temecula, saw its first album in three years, “Say Hello to Sunshine” (Drive-Thru/Geffen), sell 38,000 and land at No. 24.

Jodeci’s “Back to the Future” (Universal) sold 35,000 copies (No. 27); Avenged Sevenfold’s “City of Evil” (Warner) moved 33,000 (No. 30); Dream Theater’s “Octavarium” (Atlantic) hit No. 36 on sales of 27,000; and Capitol’s compilation of “Pat Benatar’s Greatest Hits” sold 20,000 to take No. 47.

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