Little kids are helping the music business in a big way.
The top three albums are a soundtrack to a Disney Channel telepic, the latest in the popular Kidz Bop series and the soundtrack to children’s film “Curious George.”
Such a top three has never previously occurred in SoundScan’s 15 years. It comes at a time of year when major diskeries are trying to sustain the glow of Valentine’s Day and superstar releases from the holiday period. The end of February could become an increasingly important release period for indies and kid-oriented discs.
“You have the majors taking a deep breath” at the end of the fourth quarter, said Cliff Chenfeld, who co-owns Razor & Tie, the label that created and releases Kidz Bop Kids albums. “That gives an opportunity to indie labels to have (top 10) records,” he added, referring to the success of “Kidz Bop Vol. 9” this week and Victory Records’ release on Tuesday of Hawthorne Heights’ latest.
And Disney — in the music world — is an indie. In its seventh week of release, the Mouse House’s soundtrack to “High School Musical” had its biggest sales week yet, moving 101,000 copies in the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It debuted in mid-January on sales of a paltry 6,000, which rose to 16,000 the week of its first airing. Even with those low numbers, it has been the top-selling kids record for six weeks in a row.
“High School Musical” is the first television show soundtrack to land at No. 1 in SoundScan’s 15 years of tracking sales. The last TV soundtrack to sit atop the chart was “Miami Vice,” which had an 11-week run in 1985 and 1986. Disney Channel reported that the spec had been seen by 26 million viewers in its first six airings. Tuesday’s airing brought in 4.1 million total viewers.
Since the show’s premiere, the soundtrack has generated five top 40 singles, led by “Breaking Free” by Andrew Seeley, Zac Efron and Vanessa Anne Hudgens. Musicvideos for the singles have been made available on iTunes.
The ninth volume of Razor & Tie’s “Kidz Bop” debuted at No. 2 on sales of 98,000 copies. It is the highest chart position ever for the indie label and the biggest sales week in the five-year history of “Kidz Bop.” Series consists of youngsters, billed as Kidz Bop Kids, doing cover versions of contempo hits. “Vol. 9” includes “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” “Speed of Sound” and “Photograph.” (Razor & Tie’s “Fired Up 3” compilation, a two-CD collection of remixes, debuted at No. 84, selling 14,000 copies.)
Last year in the last week of February, Razor & Tie released Vol. 7 of “Kidz Bop,” selling 73,000 copies to open at No. 7. At the time, Green Day and Ray Charles were basking in post-Grammy glory and Epic had just released much-awaited discs from Omarion and Tori Amos. This year, Kidz Bop leapfrogged Mary J. Blige, James Blunt and Barry Manilow. Compared with the same week in 2005, sales were off by 1%.
For the past three years, Razor & Tie has released one volume in February and another in August. Chenfeld said television advertising in January and July, along with retail positioning costs, are considerably cheaper than in other months.
Jack Johnson’s “Singalongs and Lullabyes for the Film Curious George” (Universal) dropped one slot to No. 3 on sales of 89,000. In three weeks, disc’s cume has hit 369,000.
“These sales,” Chenfeld said, referring to the top three albums, “are the result of more focused marketing to people less likely to steal music (via the Internet) and more concerned about what their kids hear on modern radio. Parents in their 30s and 40s are from a more music-centric generation.”
Beyond the top three, there are only five other albums in the top 200 aimed at kids: Aly & AJ’s “Into the Rush” (Hollywood, which Disney owns) at No. 93; “Radio Disney James 8” (Disney/Buena Vista) at No. 110; Hilary Duff’s “Most Wanted Collection” (Hollywood) at No. 122; Baby Einstein’s “Lullaby Classics” (Disney/Buena Vista) at No. 189; and EMI Latin’s “Reggaeton Ninos” (No. 191), which applies the Kidz Bop treatment to reggaeton tunes.
“The market (for kids music) will grow, but the appetite isn’t going to rival something like indie rock,” Chenfeld said. “We have found a sweet spot, but we’re not becoming a kids label exclusively.”
The debut album from Arctic Monkeys, the most discussed new rock band of the year, opened at No. 24. “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” (Domino) sold 34,000 copies in a sales sesh that coincided with the band receiving three NME awards, including best British band, in England. Band starts a 10-city North American tour March 13 in San Francisco.
Motown’s soundtrack to last week’s No. 1 film, “Madea’s Family Reunion,” sold 33,000 copies to debut at No. 26.
Other notable debuts included “Everytime We Touch,” the first album from trance-dance singer Cascada (Robbins Entertainment), selling 17,000 (No. 67); rappers Scarface & the Underground’s “Product” (Koch), selling 15,000 (No. 78); Insane Clown Posse member Shaggy 2 Dope’s “F.T.F.O.” (Psychopathic), 14,000 (No. 88); and Dilated People’s fourth album, “20/20” (Capitol), 12,000 (No. 97).
Single-CD film soundtrack to “Rent” (Warner) sold 10,000 copies in its first week while the two-CD set did 9,000, buoyed by the DVD release of the pic. And the first solo album from former Kinks leader Ray Davies, “Other People’s Lives” on V2, sold 9,000.
Bible teacher and author Juanita Bynum saw her “Piece of My Passion” (Flower) leap 84 spots to No. 40 on sales of 23,000. The host of TBN’s flagship program “Praise,” Bynum was featured on BET’s “Celebration of Gospel VI” last week.