The yearly post-Christmas digital song sales surge is in full effect this week, with a number of tunes aiming for monster sales figures.
Consumers redeeming download gift cards received for Christmas are spurring huge increases for a variety of songs. Based on sales data from industry sources, Billboard forecasts that perhaps six songs could sell more than 300,000 downloads in the tracking week that ends on Sunday, Dec. 30.
Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" is shaping up to be the biggest beneficiary of gift card downloads, as it could sell somewhere in the range of 525,000 to 575,000. Sources have suggested that around 200,000 of that figure was registered on Christmas Day alone. Last week (ending Dec. 23), "Trouble" sold 221,000 according to Nielsen SoundScan and ranked at No. 2 on Billboard's Digital Songs chart.
"Trouble" should easily jump back to No. 1 on the Digital Songs chart next week with the largest sales frame for a song since August. That month, Swift's own "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" bowed with 623,000 sold.
"Trouble's" forecasted figure -- like all others projected in this story -- could change drastically by the end of the week. As many songs saw huge bursts of gains on Christmas Day, we'll have to wait and see if many of them sustain their popularity through the week.
That said, another title in the hunt for a 300,000-plus week is Bruno Mars' current Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single "Locked Out of Heaven." The cut could sell maybe 425,000 to 450,000. (Up from 226,000 last week.) At the present, "Locked" seems like it will hold at No. 1 on the Hot 100 next week, even if Swift's "Trouble" sells as well as we're hearing. "Locked's" Hot 100 airplay lead over "Trouble" is still quite wide and "Trouble" has yet to become available to streaming services. (The Hot 100 blends sales, airplay and streaming data to determine its rankings.)
Also expected to move major units this week: the Lumineers' "Ho Hey" (350,000 to 375,000), Justin Bieber's "Beauty and a Beat" (featuring Nicki Minaj) (340,000 to 380,000), Rihanna's "Diamonds" (300,000 to 350,000) and PSY's resurgent "Gangnam Style" (325,000 to 375,000). Last week, the titles sold a respective 149,000; 119,000; 141,000 and 116,000.
Unlike this year, where all of the gift card impact will be housed in a single SoundScan tracking week, last year's holiday haul was dispersed over two weeks. As Christmas fell on a Sunday in 2011 (the final day in SoundScan's tracking week), we saw sales bumps in both the week ending Dec. 25, 2011 and Jan. 1, 2012.
In the week ending Dec. 25, 2011, there was just one song that sold more than 300,000: LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" (395,000; up 159% compared to the previous week). The next-biggest sellers were Katy Perry's "The One That Got Away" (297,000; up 157%), Rihanna's "We Found Love" (276,000; up 86%) and Bruno Mars' "It Will Rain" (266,000; up 112%). Overall digital song volume that week stood at 38.25 million (up 70%).
The next week, the major impact of downloads cards were felt, as many consumers seemed to redeem their gifts on Dec. 26 (the first day of the tracking week that ended Jan. 1, 2012).
Three songs surpassed 300,000 in sales that week while another four moved more than 250,000. "Sexy and I Know It" yet again was the biggest title (417,000; up 6%), followed by "We Found Love" (319,000; up 16%), "The One That Got Away" (308,000; up 4%), LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" (296,000; up 38%), "It Will Rain" (280,000; up 5%), Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" (267,000; up 23%) and Flo Rida's "Good Feeling" (257,000; up 18%).
Song sales volume for the seven days ending Jan. 1 was 46.42 million (up 21%) -- the biggest week for song downloads since the week ending Dec. 28, 2008 (47.73 million).