Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Hi Gary,

Thanks for your great column every week. I have a question I don't think has been addressed before.

With Cake's "Showrrom of Compassion" debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with the lowest number of copies sold (44,000) for a leading set since the chart's conversion to Nielsen SoundScan data in May 1991, it got me wondering: how many copies do the albums at the lowest portion of the chart now sell?

Thanks again (I started following the Billboard charts back in the late '70s!)

Tony Bisio
Tampa, Florida

Hi Tony,

Thanks for the kind words!

Just as the sales totals atop the Billboard 200 are bleak in comparison to the past, it's unsurprising that acts can now dent the chart's basement with lower numbers than before.

This week, the No. 200 title, Blake Shelton's "All About Tonight" EP, sold just north of 2,000, marking the eighth-lowest total for an anchor position album in the chart's SoundScan era.

A former No. 1, interestingly enough, holds the mark for lowest weekly sales sum for a No. 200-ranking set. In the Aug. 29, 2009, chart week, Kenny Chesney's "Lucky Old Sun" sold slightly less than Shelton's release shifted this week.

Since May 1991, the top 116 lowest-selling weeks for No. 200-placing titles have occurred since the beginning of 2008. Of those, the top 55 graced the list since the start of 2009.

Conversely, the highest SoundScan-era sales total for an album at the bottom rung on the Billboard 200? Slipknot's "Iowa," which moved 21,000 copies following the 2001 Christmas shopping week.

Discounting weeks impacted by holiday purchasing habits (i.e., outside of November through January, for the purposes of this statistic), Avril Lavigne's "Let Go" has logged the top sales total for a No. 200-ranking album in the Billboard 200's SoundScan timeframe. The set sold 8,000 copies the chart week of Feb. 28, 2004.

Speaking of Lavigne ...