‘Millennium’ million to Boys

Backstreet's sophomore effort could be record-breaker

Thanks to heavy TV advertising and special programming on MTV, the Backstreet Boys’ new album may have set an industry record for first-week sales, according to label insiders: Early projections put the tally for “Millennium,” the band’s sophomore effort for Jive Records, at 1.1 million units.

If estimates hold, that will be the biggest first-week tally in the SoundScan era, besting Garth Brooks’ “Double Live” set, released last fall.

No. 1 debut

“Millennium” will debut at No. 1 even if it falls short of the record, knocking Ricky Martin’s self-titled C2/Columbia Records bow out of the top spot after just one week.

“This is an example of a hard-working artist and great co-operation between their label and management. Jive (execs) set this record up tremendously,” Jeff Kwatinetz of the Firm, the band’s management company, told Daily Variety. Kwatinetz declined to cite sales figures but said, “Everyone is very, very pleased.”

“Millennium” went on sale May 18; figures cover the May 18-23 period. Official totals will be released Wednesday.

Brooks’ Capitol Nashville album logged 1.08 million sales in its first six days and, like the Backstreet Boys, benefited from a change in the way SoundScan information is calculated by the mass merchants.

That change significantly gooses an album’s first-week total, which in turn gives record label execs bragging rights. Previously, the mass merchants’ sales tallies stopped on Friday and did not include the first weekend an album was on sale. As a result, mass merchants reported a disc’s first four days on sale, rather than six.

Those outlets, the Wal-Marts and Kmarts of the nation, accounted for first-day sales of more than 520,000 copies of ‘Millennium.”

MTV’s frequently rerun special on the band and advance setup by label marketers, who also teased the new album on CD singles from the band’s debut, contributed to the apparently record-breaking first week.

Initially, the label projected that “Millennium” would go home with around 700,000 fans, a six-day tally that would top last week’s 661,000 units logged by Martin’s English-language bow.

Expanding fan base

Industry insiders suggested the hefty sales indicate the band has expanded beyond its core of “tweenage” and teenage girls into women in their 20s. They believe “Millennium” could quickly top 10 million units. The band’s bow sold 8 million CDs in its 93rd week of release.

BMG distribution put more than 3.8 million albums into the marketplace and has already had reorders for nearly 1 million more based on first-week interest.