Ask Billboard

Keith answers readers' questions on Mariah Carey, Kimberly Locke, retail exclusive albums and more!

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Keith Caulfield at



There has been a lot of news about how retail exclusive albums have sold from such acts as the Eagles, Bo Bice, Olivia Newton-John's Christmas album and so forth.

Why wouldn't a retailer want to release these numbers? It seems like it would boost sales to have them listed on a Billboard chart.

Randy Smith
Beaverton, Ore.

Hello Randy,

There could be many reasons why a retailer doesn't want to disclose sales figures for an album there are selling exclusively. If a publicly traded company decides to release an album and it underperforms, and those sales are shared with the public, that could harm the company's bottom line. Alternately, if a much-hyped album flops, perhaps no one wants to crow about how poorly something has sold.

Really, the reasons are all over the map and it's likely individual to each retailer.


Hi Keith,

Another holiday season, another trip up the Hot Digital Songs chart for Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You."

Prior to the digital age, was it released as a physical single ever? Any chance you could tally up the total sales-to-date for the song in all formats?


David Bicha
San Francisco

Hello David,

Thus far (through the week ending Dec. 2, 2007), Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" had sold 704,000 digital downloads. It has never been released as a physical CD single in the U.S.

The song, which was first released to radio stations in 1994, peaked at No. 12 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart in early 1995. At the time, unless songs had a commercially available single in stores to purchase, songs could not chart on The Billboard Hot 100.

We changed the rules at the end of 1998, enabling so-called airplay-only songs to chart on The Billboard Hot 100. And of course, nowadays, nearly every song you hear on the radio has a digital download available, which also counts towards the tabulation of The Billboard Hot 100.

However, for Carey's song, it is not eligible to chart on The Billboard Hot 100 anymore. Like all Christmas songs, once its initial season has passed (for Carey's, it was Christmas 1994), the song becomes a recurrent title. That basically means it can chart on our various digital charts and our airplay charts, but not on The Billboard Hot 100.


Hi Keith,

I have a quick question about Kimberley Locke. I loved her second album, "Based on a True Story," and was sad when it premiered at No. 160 on The Billboard 200 and then quickly fell off the chart. How many copies has it been able to sell so far?

Also, I am loving her digital-only "Christmas" album which I have not seen chart anywhere yet. How many copies has she sold of her holiday album since it was released digitally on November 6?

Thank you!

Paul Ketz

Hello Paul,

So far, through the week ending Dec. 2, Kimberley Locke's "Based on a True Story" has only sold 17,000 according to Nielsen SoundScan. Her first album, 2004's "One Love," has shifted 212,000.

Her new iTunes-exclusive digital album, "Christmas," has sold 1,000.

This week, her take on "Frosty the Snowman" zips up the Adult Contemporary radio chart to No. 1, giving the singer her third chart-topper on that list. All three of her No. 1s have been Christmas singles.