Jason Isbell’s “The Nashville Sound” Goes #1 in Country, #4 Overall
Jason Isbell and his band The 400 Unit have just notched their best-charting, and best-selling record of Jason Isbell’s career with The Nashville Sound. Selling a total of 54,000 units, including 51,000 in pure album sales, it puts Isbell #1 in country, and #4 overall for this week on the album charts. The numbers also put Isbell atop Billboard’s Top Rock Album’s chart like his last album by beating out the new Nickelback album Feed The Machine by 7,000 units, as well as put him on top of the Americana/Folk albums chart. Isbell was beat out by pop artist Lorde at #1 overall with 109,000 equivalent album sales, as well as by 2Chainz and Kendrick Lamar’s Damn.
Isbell’s best effort previously was for his Grammy-winning last album Something More Than Free, which debuted with 46,000 units sold in 2015, barely beating out Alan Jackson for #1, and came in #6 overall. “‘The Nashville Sound’ just had the best week of any album we’ve ever made,” Isbell said on Twitter Friday (6-23). “So much for alienating half my audience by speaking my mind.”
Jason’s reference is to the small, but spirited controversy surrounding The Nashville Sound due to the political nature of some of the material, including his song “White Man’s World.” It’s hard to say if Isbell’s measured, but high-profile stance swayed some listeners away, or enticed others towards the album, but it was a wash at the very worst. For an artist with little mainstream radio support to crest the albums chart is still a remarkable feat. Jason was also helped along by appearances on multiple television shows last week, including Late Night with Stephen Colbert, CBS This Morning, as well as The Daily Show.
Read: Album Review – Jason Isbell’s That Nashville Sound
Jason Isbell—along with Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton—is given credit for helping to lead a resurgence of substance in Nashville. Stapleton’s recent album From A Room: Vol. 1 also went #1 upon debut, and comes in #2 in country for the current week just ahead of Lady Antebellum’s latest, Heart Break at #3. Stapleton’s debut album Traveller sits at #4.
June 26, 2017 @ 8:04 am
Nickelback is to Rock what FGL is to Country.
Way to go, Isbell! Great album by a very talented singer-songwriter, band, and producer.
June 26, 2017 @ 8:57 am
Awww, c’mon. Everybody says they hate Nickelback, but that’s just the cool, accepted thing to say. Everybody REALLY hates FGL. At least, the ones with taste…
June 26, 2017 @ 10:30 am
I’m pretty sure all the cool folks I know hate Nickelback too! 🙂
June 26, 2017 @ 11:26 am
Ha! For some reason I was watching Anthony Bourdain’s show on CNN. He always seems to me like a poser and he just rubs me the wrong way. He went off on Nickelback saying he wants to murder them and all his fans and all I can think was that he is saying that because it’s the cool band to hate. I’m no fan of them but I was thinking I don’t want to murder them…I’l save that for Niki Minaj and her fans. When I’m stuck listening to the radio with my wife and that would come on, that was justifiable grounds for murder.
June 26, 2017 @ 11:43 am
No court in the land would convict you.
The Ghost of Buckshot Jones
June 26, 2017 @ 11:27 am
They used to (probably still) have the same management group & PR firm. So, yea, the comparison is apt.
June 26, 2017 @ 1:12 pm
And the same producer. Joey Moi.
June 26, 2017 @ 8:33 am
He unfortunately will get little air play. Bro country/tractor rap will continue to be played ad nauseam by all the stupid corporate radio stations. I am thrilled for him and going to see him tonight in New Haven for the second time.
June 26, 2017 @ 8:43 am
These are album sales world-wide, or just the USA?
It’s amazing to see how small these numbers are compared to album sales, even *weekly* album sales, in the past: https://www.statista.com/statistics/273308/music-album-sales-in-the-us/
Statista says: “Between 2015 and 2020, digital music streaming is expected to grow by 21.65 percent on an annual basis. However, digital music downloading is expected to fall by 14.26 percent in the same period. Physical recorded music is expected to suffer and will fall by 12.32 percent annually.”
So I also wonder whether Isbell is thinking at all about international album sales when he writes a tune like “White Man’s World.” Look at the slight rebound in the global music market: https://www.statista.com/statistics/272305/global-revenue-of-the-music-industry/
Dunno how good this data is, but food for thought.
June 26, 2017 @ 9:07 am
Just the USA. I don’t think Jason has much of an international following as of yet. I see a lot more country artists doing shows in Europe lately. There is a market for them out there they just have to get their music out. South America too. Blake Shelton was like the 4th best selling all genre album in Brazil and did really well in international markets even though he doesn’t travel outside the US.
June 26, 2017 @ 9:24 am
I believe he did a European Tour before, and he is doing another one in the fall. He has some international following, or that wouldn’t be sustainable.
June 26, 2017 @ 10:44 am
Thanks I’m a newer fan and honestly don’t know anybody who’s even heard of Jason.
June 26, 2017 @ 1:58 pm
Then I think it’s maybe time for some new friends. ? (But seriously–point taken. I get blank stares from most people when I talk about the music I listen to.)
June 27, 2017 @ 8:47 am
And that’s the sad reality for most good music today.
June 27, 2017 @ 12:39 pm
That’s true. Most people I know who listen to country still listen to the classics or popular radio artists.
June 26, 2017 @ 5:14 pm
There is a pretty solid market for Americana in the UK, Australia , Canada and Ireland, for obvious reasons, as well as Holland. A lot of bands do that circuit if they can, though Australia is expensive. Byron Blues fest tend to bring over Americana folks, who use that as the basis of a tour.
June 27, 2017 @ 5:12 am
Isbell has a pretty decent following in the UK. He sold out the Camden Roundhouse six months in advance. This is a decent sized venue (approx. 3,000 capacity). As a comparison, only about 400 people turned to a Frankie Ballard concert recently in a venue that holds about 1,000.
Conversely, John Moreland recently sold out two London shows on consecutive nights. Colter Wall, Brent Cobb and Nikki Lane have all had recent sell outs as well.
June 26, 2017 @ 8:57 am
I’ve often wondered why the promotional people at a label doesn’t take a song that fits a mainstream format from an artist like Isbell or Giddens and push it. Even if overall the album doesn’t fit the commercial format some songs do. Is it just not cost effective? Is the infrastructure not there to pull it off? Are the commercial format stations too resistant to it? It would seem like it would do nothing but at to a stations listeners.
June 26, 2017 @ 9:59 am
Usually an artist would have to push it through a major label or they would have to pick up promotion for the single to make it to mainstream radio.
Most of the time artists like isbell would be on indie labels who do not have promotions teams. Few like sturgill would be already be on a major label so they could opt to do it.
They could pick up a promotions service like in2une (close to that name) that specializes in radio promotion. Get some mainstream play and secondary radio mostly.
Basically it would cost money and have to have a strategy. Top 30 would be a minimum of $750,000 and could reach up to $2,000,000-3,000,000 depending on the length of it and how high on the chart.
Current structure he would almost have no chance to be a top 30 song. Unless something out of the ordinary happened and bobby bones decided he was going to try and make him a star via his radio show or an on the verge pick.
June 26, 2017 @ 1:03 pm
So it basically isn’t money well spent? How much would be generated if an artist like this got a song in rotation on a commercial country station?
June 26, 2017 @ 1:16 pm
These days most mainstream stars spend money on radio promotion and make it back on live ticket sales. $10 for a CD, or $15 for an LP is too much to support your favorite artist. So they stream them on Spotify and then spend $475 on a pair of floors seats 50 rows back.
June 26, 2017 @ 1:58 pm
Two tickets at $237.50. Let’s say they hear two hours of music. That’s $118.75 per hour, i.e. $0.98 a minute. This is slightly more expensive than a $1.29 iTune track of three minutes — or $.076 per minute — but you get the experience of being there.
The key calculation is maybe how listeners are saying “we’ll only pay good money for big touring acts with a cool stage show that costs a fortunate to put on. The rest of you musicians can go pound sand.”
June 26, 2017 @ 1:59 pm
Typo: $1.97 a minute.
June 26, 2017 @ 7:20 pm
But I can pay the equivalent of an album per month to spotify, and listen to a ton of music, from a large variety of genres. What’s the argument for buying the album instead? Versus a concert where I can see a cool live experience that I can’t get any other way.
June 26, 2017 @ 8:13 pm
I want a physical copy in my hand, but enjoy the amazon rips you get when you buy the CD as well. I’m in my fifties so I’m not the typical demographic for music sales, or am I?
June 27, 2017 @ 6:48 am
I’m with you, Lazydawg. I like reading the liner notes, all the credits, weird shit. I’m in my late fifties, so we’re in THAT demographic, for whatever that’s worth.
The Goddess of Country Rock
June 26, 2017 @ 9:06 am
Minor nitpick: Lorde is actually from New Zealand. 🙂
Yay for Jason!
June 26, 2017 @ 9:53 am
Great news! I saw him on The Daily Show and he had a great conversation with Trevor Noah. The revolution will be televised it seems 🙂
June 26, 2017 @ 9:53 am
Great news, especially the part about defeating Nickelback. Shame that never translates into radio play.
June 26, 2017 @ 10:06 am
Very well deserved accomplishment on Isbell’s part. “That Nashville Sound” will go down as one of his best albums ever, even if you set aside the faux-controversial tracks. I dare anyone to listen to the albums first three songs and not be blown away.
June 26, 2017 @ 10:34 am
Guy and Townes left big shoes to fill and Jason’s feet just keep growing and growing. I am glad today.
June 26, 2017 @ 1:07 pm
Just an observation, but doesn’t Isbell look like a Southern Baptist youth minister. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I’ve got a young friend that is one, but he looks more like a singer/songwriter.
June 26, 2017 @ 3:51 pm
Ha, he totally does.
June 26, 2017 @ 5:38 pm
I think he did the voice of a youth minister on an episode of squidbillies, if I recall correctly
June 27, 2017 @ 8:03 am
I just wish he’d get his teeth fixed. Scary Chompers.
June 26, 2017 @ 4:35 pm
I don’t like Nickelback. But I got to say, I almost feel bad for them the way everybody has just universally decided to take a big giant dump on them. I probably should save my sympathy though, they are probably laughing all the way to the bank and don’t care one bit.
June 26, 2017 @ 5:11 pm
This album is listed as Rock.
June 26, 2017 @ 5:47 pm
Not to be a contrarian but it would have been a disaster had this not been his most successful week ever. You have to consider how much more popular Jason is now because of the success of SMTF. It’s like how big budget movie sequels always out perform the original film. I’m almost surprised it didn’t do better compared to that record, but that could be in part due to increased levels of streaming in last 3 years.
June 26, 2017 @ 5:53 pm
I saw Isbell last week in Philadelphia and it was a great show. Friday when I wore my new t-shirt I bought at the show, I was amazed by the variety of people who stopped to tell me how much they liked him.
June 26, 2017 @ 5:59 pm
I preordered through his label, got a digital download from Amazon, and paid Ticketmaster fees to see him in Philly last week.
Thrilled to see these well deserved numbers, his talent deserves it and more.
June 26, 2017 @ 7:24 pm
Am I happy this sold extremely well? Yes. Is Jason Isbell from Alabama? Yes. Does being born in a southern state mean you make country music? No (see Beyonce). This album isn’t country, and it shouldn’t be on the country chart..and just because it’s good, and I like it, doesn’t make it more country.
Anyways every writer, media person (both sports and politics), comedian etc on the coasts loves Isbell. Most of the people I follow on FB and twitter, Isbell is their favorite artist; He might be singing about Alabama and Nashville, but a lot of his success (and Stapleton’s) is built on the coastal Starbucks crowd.
June 26, 2017 @ 8:19 pm
I’d just call him a singer / songwriter..
June 27, 2017 @ 6:22 am
I can’t lie, I do hate how the hipsters have latched on to him. Trigger’s fake news hipster column from (I think) last year was awesome.
June 27, 2017 @ 6:52 am
Oh, if the coastal coffee house inhabitants are listening, it MUST be great.
June 26, 2017 @ 9:26 pm
This album is ? Luke Bryan is more country than this dude
June 27, 2017 @ 6:21 am
You’re hilarious! Now go and enjoy the latest from Walker Hayes, “I’m a 37-year old who can’t cut it by making real country music, so I’m going to white-boy ‘beat box’ over some computer-generated jams so that idiots who like Sam Hunt, Luke Bryan, and Jason Aldean will buy my shit and talk about how ‘country’ they are.”
June 27, 2017 @ 12:29 am
I predict this album will drop like a stone next week. A crirical darling with little real world relevance.
June 27, 2017 @ 8:33 am
I’ve tried.. IDK.. I just can’t commit myself to this album for some reason. It hasn’t been without trying.
It’s not that it isn’t good.
Just personal tastes I guess.
I don’t have anything bad to say about it.
It isn’t like I won’t listen to it again either..
Strait Country 81
June 27, 2017 @ 3:20 pm
I just can’t get into his music at all.
I’d much rather listen to Hellbound Glory,Whitey Morgan,Jackson Taylor,Dale Watson etc.
June 29, 2017 @ 8:42 pm
I agree. Jason does all right on a few songs, but he’s either too mellow or too Rock mostly.I’m not really sure what he’s driving at with “White Man’s World” Is he ashamed of being Southern? If so, that’s sad. He’s been reading way too much Liberal Propaganda.
June 27, 2017 @ 5:02 pm
He’s on the PBS Newshour tonight. Pretty great coverage so far.
June 29, 2017 @ 7:33 am
I have Isbell fatigue. I’m glad he’s happy, and has new teeth, and skinny jeans and the baby has new shoes. All good. He’s a great songwriter and deserves his success. But damn please don’t let me hear anything else about Jason Isbell.
Also, been listening to Noah Gundersen this morning and I keep forgetting and thinking that it’s Isbell. Which illustrates the point that Isbell hasn’t been ‘country’ since ever.
July 2, 2017 @ 11:55 pm
I gave the album a casual listen last week after reading Trigger’s excellent review, and I haven’t stopped listening to it yet. I’ve never really seen the big deal with Isbell, but I get it now, and have dug into his back catalog. “Last of my Kind” should be song of the year.