Willie Nelson, Aaron Watson, Koe Wetzel Top Country Albums Sales

photos: Brad Coolidge

It’s a Texas invasion at the very top of the country music albums charts this week as an oldtimer, an independent maverick, and an upstart troublemaker all from the Lone Star State have pushed the powers that be in pop country down the ladder, and come in at #1, #2, and #3 respectively in album sales. All three also make it into the Top 10 of Billboard’s Country Albums chart even when considering the fuzzy math of streaming equivalents.

Starting at the top is country legend Willie Nelson, whose latest album Ride Me Back Home tops all comers with 18,760 units sold, putting him at first place in album sales in all of country. Nelson also racked up 597,325 streams during Ride Me Back Home‘s first week, good enough to put him at #2 overall on the Billboard Country Albums chart. This is Willie Nelson’s 52nd overall Top 10 on the chart, which is the current record. Dolly Parton has 44 Top 10 albums, and both Loretta Lynn and George Strait have 41.

Right behind Willie is Aaron Watson, whose 20-song country and Western self-penned opus called Red Bandana has a lot of people in Texas and beyond singing his praises (read review). He comes in at #2 in traditional album sales with 9,286 records sold, and 1,971,487 streams, good for 11,058 in total consumption, and #7 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. This makes for Aaron Watson’s 4th Top 10 album, including his #1 for 2015’s The Underdog.

And in third place is the always-controversial but very intensely-followed Texas music rocker Koe Wetzel, whose surprise album Harold Saul High with virtual no press push or professional promotion behind it sold 4,275 albums for third best for the week in album sales. The album also accumulated an eye-popping 7,100,757 streams, putting him at 10,191 equivalent units, and #10 on the Billboard Country Albums chart for the current week. (read review)

They were all bested on the Billboard Country Albums chart due to mammoth streaming equivalents by the debut album from Luke Combs, which only sold 2,936 in physical copies, but amassed 26,695,283 streams, easily putting him at #1 on the chart. Despite being released now over 2 years ago, attention for the album remains strong. Combs also places at #3 on the Billboard Country Albums chart with his recently-released The Prequel EP, which is expected to be the precursor to a new album released later this year.

These numbers underscore how streaming is now the name of the game on the music charts, but independent artists still sell cohesive albums in physical or download form at a greater clip than their mainstream counterparts, putting more cash in their pockets compared to the penny fractions of streaming services, and speaking to the commitment of their fans to supporting their favorite performers with purchases of physical product.

Top 10 in Pure Album Sales for the week of 7/1/2019:

  1. Willie Nelson – Ride Me Back Home
  2. Aaron Watson – Red Bandana
  3. Koe Wetzel – Harold Saul High
  4. Thomas Rhett – Center Point Road
  5. Carrie Underwood – Cry Pretty
  6. Luke Combs – This One’s For You
  7. Luke Combs – The Prequel EP
  8. Buddy & Julie Miller – Breakdown on 20th Ave. South
  9. Chris Stapleton – Traveller
  10. George Strait – Honky Tonk Time Machine

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Billboard Country Albums Top 10:

  1. Luke Combs – This One’s For You
  2. Willie Nelson – Ride Me Back Home
  3. Luke Combs – The Prequel EP
  4. Dan + Shay – Self-Titled
  5. Thomas Rhett – Center Point Road
  6. Morgan Wallen – If I Know Me
  7. Aaron Watson – Red Bandana
  8. Chris Stapleton – Traveller
  9. Jason Aldean – Rearview Town
  10. Koe Wetzel – Harold Saul High