It’s been a good couple of weeks for Australian music. Things got off to a great start late last month after Perth’s Tame Impala saw their biggest ever ARIA chart debut when their latest effort, Currents, entered the chart at Number 1.
The sterling debut marked the Kevin Parker-led psychedelic group’s highest ever chart ranking in Australia, with their first two albums, Innerspeaker and Lonerism, having both previously peaked at Number 4 on the ARIA Albums Chart.
A week later, Currents had been knocked off the top of the chart, but in a pleasant turn of events, it had been supplanted by another Australian release. This time, it was Sydney metalcore outfit Northlane sitting atop the albums chart.
All eyes were on the band and their latest full-length, the critically acclaimed Node, and fellow heavy outfit Lamb of God, to see who would debut at the top. Northlane’s first album with newly minted vocalist Marcus Bridge came out the victor.
However, the good news ends there. What’s followed two Number 1 debuts from two awesome homegrown bands is seemingly one of the worst album sales weeks the Australian charts have seen in quite some time, if the chart itself is anything to go by.
In a rather dismal turn of events, the number one album in the country right now is Title, the full-length debut from US pop star Meghan Trainor, followed by new entires from Josh Pyke (But For All These Shrinking Hearts) and Gurrumul (The Gospel Album).
Rounding out the chart are Ed Sheeran’s X and Taylor Swift’s latest smash, 1989. Now, we’re not being genre-ist here. Of course pop albums with heavy radio play and popular YouTube videos are going to fare well in the charts.
No, the issue is that Title is currently in its 30th week in the chart. The album previously debuted in the top spot back in January and spent 27 weeks in the top ten, spending the rest of the time in the top 50.“For an album that’s been in the charts since January to reclaim the Number 1 spot, it must’ve been a pretty abysmal sales week overall.”
Trainor’s jump from Number 5 last week is followed by what is still Pyke’s highest chart debut ever since 2008’s Chimney’s Afire opened at Number 3 and Gurrumul’s third album to enter that chart in the bronze position.
Since ARIA don’t release sales figures, it’s not clear just how many copies each album sold. However, a source has told Tone Deaf Title sold approximately 4,000 copies and for an album that’s been in the charts since January to reclaim the Number 1 spot, it must’ve been a pretty abysmal sales week overall.
While ARIA’s end-of-year figures for 2014 painted a fairly rosy picture, with consumers buying more Aussie music than ever, as Tone Deaf has previously reported, album sales continue to feel the crunch of a market that’s less interested in full artist albums.
As Tone Deaf reported back in March, pop legend Madonna’s latest full-length effort, Rebel Heart, sold just 6,962 copies to debut at the top of the Australian albums chart. That means that in its first two weeks, the number one album in Australia failed to sell even 10,000 copies.
Such sobering news is nothing new, either. As Perth Now reports, back in 2010, Australian record sales hit an alarming low, which saw British metalcore band Bring Me the Horizon hit number one with just 3,600 album sales.
It was the lowest sales figure to achieve a number one album in Australia. The week prior, Linkin Park, arguably one of the biggest bands in rock, sold just 4,056 copies and juggernaut Robbie Williams sold only 2,816 in a debut week.
So what can we glean from Madonna’s lacklustre sales and Trainor’s belated second week at Number 1? Well, for one thing, there’s unlikely to be any kind of recovery in album sales any time soon. After seeing a 6.8 percent rise in profits in 2013, Aussie music sales suffered their worst decline ever in 2014.
And while ARIA’s end-of-year sales numbers indicate Australians are indeed buying more Aussie music every year, an investigation by Tone Deaf back in October 2014 confirmed that no Australian artist album had gone platinum in 2014.