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Ken Burns’ ‘Country Music’ Has Big Impact on Amazon, iTunes Charts

Ken Burns’ “Jazz” had a huge impact on jazz catalog sales — the tail of which is still being felt, 18 years later — so it’s no surprise that his “Country Music” series would instigate some kind of stampede back to classic country. Still, there’s room to be additionally impressed at just how thoroughly decades-old albums by artists featured on the PBS show are taking over the Amazon and iTunes charts.

As of Thursday morning, on Amazon’s physical media chart, classic country artists who’ve been given the spotlight on “Country Music” command eight of the top 20 spots among all-genre sales and 35 of the general top 100.

On iTunes’ all-genre album download chart, which is naturally going to skew a bit younger, albums by artists featured on Burns’ “Country Music” account for 14 out of the top 80 spots.

If you’re looking strictly at the country charts, of course, the numbers are even more impressive. On Amazon’s country album sales chart, every single album in the top 20 has a connection with Burns’ show. On iTunes’ country albums download chart, 60 of the top 100 are by artists associated with the series.

As might be expected, the show had an impact from its first episode — Jimmie Rodgers discovery really is a thing — but sales have especially picked up as the series progressed and moved on past the ’20s and ’30s into acts from the ’60s forward with whom most viewers are likely to already have had some familiarity, with best-ofs by Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Dwight Yoakam and the like doing particularly well.

But landmark studio albums that Burns featured on the show are doing well, too. At Amazon, the No. 2 album on the all-genre chart at the moment is the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1972 “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” which became a focus on the series because of how the group brought in Roy Acuff and other classic country artists who stood in danger of being forgotten at the time it was recorded.

At No. 3 is Willie Nelson’s 1970s game-changing collection of standards, “Stardust,” and, after skipping over the actual “Country Music” soundtrack at No. 4, No. 5 is the mid-’70s compilation that put the term “outlaw country” on the map, “Wanted! The Outlaws.” (These albums are bested only by the Beatles’ new “Abbey Road” boxed set at No. 1.)

On iTunes’ all-genre album chart, Nelson’s “Stardust” has been boosted, presumably for the first time ever, to No. 9, allowing Hoagy Carmichael a fleeting moment in the top 10 amid Lizzo, Tool and Post Malone.

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