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Music for the older set climbs the CD charts
Modest sellers shining in download era
Sade had a number one hit in February with her first album in 10 years. (PRNewsfoto/ Epic Records)
By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / June 16, 2010
“Laws of Illusion,’’ the new CD by adult contemporary singer Sarah McLachlan, came out yesterday and will almost certainly debut near the top of the Billboard album chart. Sade had a number one hit in February with her first album in 10 years. Michael Buble, Barbra Streisand, Susan Boyle — all singers who appeal to the over-40 crowd — have recently enjoyed top-five debuts on the album chart.
As consumers buy fewer and fewer CDs, an interesting phenomenon is occurring — artists who appeal to older listeners are showing up surprisingly high on the charts.
The reason: Adults are largely the ones buying CDs these days. Younger people tend to download in general and focus on singles.
“We’re appealing to the last buying vestiges of the public, because adults don’t steal, because we don’t know how to,’’ said legendary producer and songwriter David Foster, who produced Buble’s latest album. Older consumers, he said, are “still married to the concept of ‘put the CD in the car, put the CD in the library.’ We’re still in that zone, and that’s why this is still working.’’
To be sure, the hottest of the pop and hip-hop acts aimed at the younger demographic — Justin Bieber and Eminem, to name two — are still cracking the top spots on the album chart, but more and more it is the acts that appeal to older listeners that rise to the top. Streisand managed to best Mariah Carey when the divas’ most recent releases went head to head for the top spot in October.
Partly this is due to lower overall album sales. The recent reissue of the Rolling Stones’ 1972 album “Exile on Main Street’’ debuted at number two on the strength of only 76,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen Soundscan. Sales in that range have been equally winning for other “heritage acts’’ like Carole King and James Taylor, and Melissa Etheridge. (This has also been a boon to indie acts, which can debut high on the chart with totals in the 40,000 range.)