‘Encore’ scores big

Eminem helps UMG hold top 3 sales slots

Moving up the release of Eminem’s “Encore” paid handsome dividends for Interscope Records and Universal Music Group, giving the distrib the top three albums in the country and the highest one-week market share in SoundScan’s 13-year history.

“Encore,” which went on sale Friday to register three days of receipts, sold 711,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It is the second time an Eminem release has been moved up from the traditional Tuesday to stem piracy. In 2002, “The Eminem Show” sold 285,000 copies in a partial stanza and then registered 1.3 million in its first full week of sales.

“Encore” bested two other UMG releases: Shania Twain’s “Greatest Hits” (Mercury Nashville), which sold 529,000; and Toby Keith’s “Greatest Hits Vol. 2” (DreamWorks), which moved 435,000.

Twain and Keith were both featured performers on the CMA Awards the day before their albums were released. Keith also has appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Fox News, CNN, E! and CMT over the past two weeks. Twain, meanwhile, just saw her “Come on Over” album get certified for 20 million units shipped.

UMG becomes the first distrib to nab the top three slots twice in one year, the first coming in the week ended Aug. 10. With 10 albums in the top 20, UMG’s market share for the week hit a record 43.1%.

“For us this is a terrific moment,” said Doug Morris, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group. “We’re shocked by the market share numbers. It’s a sign that good records are being put out for Christmastime and a lot of people are doing a really terrific job.”

UMG should continue to flood upper reaches of the chart with Nov. 23 releases from U2 and Gwen Stefani and a Dec. 7 release from Ludacris.

Ten new releases secured spots in the top 20, marking the beginning of the high-profile holiday release avalanche. Britney Spears’ “My Prerogative: Greatest Hits” (Jive) sold 255,000 in its first week to take fourth place. It is her first album to not open at No. 1. Last week’s chart topper, “Now 17” (Capitol), slid to No. 5 on sales of 231,000.

Rappers Fabolous and Ja Rule took sixth and seventh places, respectively. Fabolous’ third disc, “Real Talk” (Atlantic), sold 179,000, while “R.U.L.E.,” the seventh album from Def Jam’s Ja Rule, sold 166,000.

Also in the top 20: New Edition’s first album in eight years, “One Love” (Bad Boy), sold 86,000 to land at No. 12; Andrea Bocelli soared to No. 16 with “Andrea” (Philips), selling 72,000; and Elton John’s “Peachtree Road” (Universal) sold 71,000 to park at No. 17.

The return of Destiny’s Child, “Destiny Fulfilled” (Columbia), was scheduled for release this week, but street date violators managed to sell 61,000 copies to secure a debut at No. 19. A similar situation occurred with Lil Jon and the East Side Boys’ “Crunk Juice” (TVT), which sold 38,000 copies in the two-to-five days before its official release.

Meanwhile, Vanessa Carlton’s “Harmonium” (A&M) debuted at No. 33 on sales of 36,000, and Luis Miguel’s “Mexico en la Piel” (WEA Latin) sold 33,000 to land at No. 37. Hits collections from the Bee Gees and Seal debuted in the top 50. The Brothers Gibbs’ “Number Ones” sold 53,000, while “Seal’s Best 1991-2004” (Warners) sold 26,0000.

George Strait and Gretchen Wilson also benefited from CMA kudocast coverage, as Strait’s “50 Number Ones” (MCA Nashville) rose 6,000 units to 100,0000, and Wilson’s “Here for the Party” (Epic) shot up 33,000 to 77,000. Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts also saw sales bumps attributable to the TV show.

Headed in the other direction was last week’s No. 2, A Perfect Circle’s “Emotive” (Virgin), which dropped 65% in sales to 50,000.

Sales for the week were down almost 8% from last year’s comparable sales period in which Jay-Z, 2Pac, G-Unit and Josh Groban debuted in the top four. Business is still ahead of last year by 3.5%.

Next week will see the first full week of sales for Eminem, Destiny’s Child and Lil Jon along with new releases from Clay Aiken and Snoop Dogg, best ofs from Pearl Jam and Neil Young and boxes from the Beatles and Bon Jovi.

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