December 6, 2019

Luke Combs Opens at No. 1 With Country’s Biggest Streaming Total Yet

The country singer Luke Combs reached the top of the Billboard chart this week with his latest album, and set a surprising record for country music.

Combs’s “What You See Is What You Get” opened with the equivalent of 172,000 sales in the United States, according to Nielsen, which includes 109,000 copies sold as a full album, thanks in part to ticket and merchandise bundles. It is only the second country album to hit No. 1 this year, after Thomas Rhett’s “Center Point Road” in June, and it had the biggest opening for any country title since Carrie Underwood’s “Cry” 14 months ago.

But the most eye-opening statistic for “What You See Is What You Get” is about streaming. Songs from the album were streamed 74 million times, by far the biggest number for any country album so far. And it broke a record not held by any contemporary star but rather one dead for more than 20 years — Gene Autry, whose album “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Other Christmas Classics” racked up almost 44 million streams late last year thanks to holiday chestnuts like “Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Country fans have been slow to adapt to streaming. According to Alpha Data, a music tracking service that is a rival to Nielsen, just 8.7 percent of the consumption of country songs came from audio streaming last year — well behind hip-hop (26.9 percent), pop (19.4 percent) and even rock (13.7 percent). But Combs’s success suggests this may be changing.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/18/arts/music/luke-combs-billboard-chart.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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