Kelly Clarkson and more – Billboard
Every four quarters, physical music retailers wish for a new Christmas album that is selling well. For online sellers who don’t have to worry about storage space, the vacation music catalog exceeds 1,000 titles, but a new hit vacation title generates overall sales for everyone.
This year, traders tell Billboard they bet Kelly Clarkson is When christmas comes will join the eternal bestsellers of Michael Bublé, Mariah Carey and Vince Guaraldi, including the soundtrack of A Charlie Brown Christmas came out in 1965 and remains a solid seller. The track has generated 149,000 album consumption units so far this year, according to MRC Data, and 68,000 of the 78,000 physical copies it has sold are on vinyl.
The one thing the four have in common: TV broadcasting and exposure to streaming services.
Can television wake up Clarkson sales?
Clarkson’s 2013 Christmas Album, Wrapped in red, has scanned over 1.5 million consumer units of albums since its debut, while Clarkson has grown into a TV personality since its release. Her syndicated talk show will replace Ellen DeGeneres on NBC next year; she also has a gig as a judge on NBC The voice and its Christmas special. Kelly Clarkson Presents: When Christmas Comes aired December 1 on NBC, drawing 4.3 million viewers and helping NBC win the night. (The show is available on demand on Hulu and Peacock.)
Released October 15, When christmas comes album is a mixture of classics and new songs. It sold well, but according to one dealer it fell short of initial expectations. “We expected Clarkson’s album to be strong from the get-go,” he said, hoping his TV special “might wake up sales”.
He might be right: In the six days leading up to the show’s airing, Clarkson’s album recorded a daily average of just over 2,000 units of album consumption to an average of 4,000. units for the next six days, starting with the show airing on December 1 – a 68.5% increase. And the consumption units (the total sales of albums, track-equivalent albums and streaming-equivalent albums) of When christmas comes jumped 39.2% to nearly 23,000 in those same six days, bringing the album’s total to date to 93,000 album consumption units.
Clarkson has a long way to go before When christmas comes can be classified as a hit. Prior to the streaming age, it was not uncommon for a new Christmas album to sell for a million physical units in its first year of release. Today, successful vacation titles range from 150,000 to 500,000 consumer units. Part of the decrease is due to the fact that there are fewer stores offering music and “space is more limited in stores that offer music,” says Steve Harkins, vice president of sales and marketing at Ingram Entertainment, the second-largest one-stop music wholesaler in the United States.
Retail space may shrink even more, as big box stores like Target and Walmart devote more of their music departments to vinyl albums. A larger format than CD, vinyl means fewer slots in the store’s album bins and therefore fewer tracks in the store.
A winning strategy for Carey and Bublé
Carey and Bublé also launched new specials in December. that of Mariah Carey Magical Christmas: the magic continues arrived on Apple + on December 3, with a performance of her new single, “Fall in Love at Christmas”, starring Khalid and Kirk Franklin. The show (its second Apple + special) is available on demand on the streaming service, which has just under 20 million subscribers in North America.
Since the launch of Carey’s new special, song consumption units for “Fall in Love at Christmas,” which averaged just over 1,000 per day in the four days leading up to the airing, have increased. increased 16.8%, from a few hundred units per day for the period of Dec. 3-6, according to MRC Data, while his other holiday single, the 1994 classic “All I Want for Christmas Is You” , increased from nearly 25,000 units of song consumption per day in the six days preceding the broadcast to just over 32,000 units of daily song consumption since the show aired.
Sales and streaming of the 1994 album which features Carey’s first hit Christmas song, Merry Christmas, also saw a special Apple + sound bump. Average daily consumption units rose from over 4,000 before the start of the special to nearly 6,000 average units per day from the day of its premiere, December 3-6, a 30% increase. As of this date, the 2021 sales and streaming activity of Merry Christmas totaling 152,000 album consumption units, making it the best-selling holiday album of the year so far.
“The Mariah Carey Merry Christmas album has been really strong over the years, ”said Laura Provenzano, vice president of purchasing and marketing at Alliance Entertainment, the largest one-stop music wholesaler in North America. Last year, the album racked up nearly 300,000 album consumption units, and Provenzano predicts the new Apple + special “will likely take it to another level.” With over 7.4 million album consumption units, including 5.8 million in sales since its release, Merry Christmas is the second revenue-generating Christmas album of the MRC Data era, which began in 1991. (Kenny G’s Miracles: the holiday album remains the best-selling holiday music album with 7.52 million album consumption units since the start of the MRC Data era in 1991.)
On December 6, NBC aired Bublé Christmas in town in conjunction with the 10th anniversary reissue of its 2011 Christmas album, which contains the new track “Christmas Sweater” and is available in a deluxe boxed set for $ 179.99 on Amazon and at Target. Before the special, Christmas was the best-selling album of the season in 2021, with 179,000 units consumed. At the time of going to press, sales data was not available, although given the increase in sales and streaming of Clarkson and Carey, Bublé’s special, which drew 7.4 million viewers, probably resulted in a similar bump.
Perennial Christmas product: “The excitement is not quite there”
Bublé and Carey may have a winning strategy to refresh existing classics with new songs. Neoclassical Mannheim Steamroller – which relied on touring to ‘wake up’ sales – and a cappella quintet Pentatonix have taken the more traditional approach of serving their bases with produce year after year, with diminishing returns. .
Pentatonix has released five holiday albums since 2014, with one compilation serving as sixth. It’s christmas for me, released in 2014, and A Pentatonix Christmas (2016) scanned more than 3.3 million and 1.4 million consumer units, respectively. But the 2018 release of the group, Christmas is here, scanned 425,000 units, and last year We need a little Christmas only 151,000. The merchants say the fifth installment, Evergreen, starts slowly after its release on October 29. He had only accumulated 45,000 consumption units as of December 2.
“The excitement isn’t quite there like it used to be,” says one music dealer.
The same goes for one of the biggest Christmas music franchises of the past 20 years, Mannheim Steamroller. His 30 Christmas albums – 20 studio recordings, 18 compilations and two live releases – total around 22 million consumer units, with the most popular track, Fresh Aire Noël, representing 3.8 million. But the group has only scanned 35,000 units so far.
And that of Kenny G Miracles: the holiday album also seems to have stalled. It generated 20,000 units of album consumption in 2020 and only 11,000 so far this year.
Out With The Old, In With The… New (ish) On Vinyl
When it comes to physical sales, merchants say streaming has influenced what Christmas releases sell. “It seems like Christmas music customers are turning to more contemporary holiday albums,” says Harkins of Ingram.
Last year, for example, two new releases – that of Carrie Underwood My present and Dolly Parton A Christmas Holly Dolly – were the top sellers among recent holiday albums, according to merchandisers. My present has scanned 485,000 consumer units of albums to date, more than half of which were physical sales: 252,000 CDs and 24,000 vinyl albums. For its part, A Christmas Holly Dolly totaled 278,000 releases of album consumption units, of which 80% were physical sales: 195,000 CDs and 21,000 vinyls.
Harkins says that while CDs remain the dominant format for physical sales, the vinyl boom has spilled over into Christmas releases, with a heavy emphasis on limited editions and colorful vinyls. Underwood’s My present is available in clear vinyl on Amazon, while Target offers a green vinyl version of Guaraldi A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Niche vacation titles are pressed onto vinyl by independent labels. Culture Factory USA general manager Ed Franke says his label reissued a sold out track by Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma Kaulkonen in 1996 Christmas, on limited edition swirled vinyl (red and white candy cane and green and black Christmas tree) as a release from the Record Store Day Black Friday. Demand was greater than expected, he says, and the album sold out.
And at the 30-store chain Newbury Comics, where vinyl makes up the bulk of the music offering, buyer Larry Mansdorf says the best-selling holiday music is a vinyl reissue of the 1999 track South Park. Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics.
Learn more about the burgeoning Christmas music business here.