Make that "The 850/900 Experience"...
Industry sources now forecast that Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience" could sell between 850,000 and 900,000 by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, March 24.
All Eyes on Justin
To bring you up to speed: On May 11 -- before the RCA Records album came out on March 19 -- Billboard first reported that the album was headed for at least 500,000. Then, once the album did drop, its sales projection jumped to 750,000 on the 20th, 800,000 on the 21st and now 850,000 to 900,000 today (22).
Could "20/20" go over 900,000? It's quite possible, if the set performs strongly over the weekend.
With its massive sales, "20/20" will instantly become the year's top selling album. It will eclipse Mumford & Sons' "Babel," which has sold 631,000 in 2013 according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Timberlake will also score his second No. 1 and his best-ever sales week with "20/20." His previous high came with the arrival of his last album, 2006's "FutureSex/LoveSounds," which bowed with 684,000 at No. 1.
To put Timberlake's monster sales in perspective, let's look at how infrequently an album sells this many copies in a single week.
Since SoundScan started tracking data in 1991, there have only been 31 instances where an album sold more than 850,000 copies in a single week. The all-time best-selling week was when Timberlake's former group, 'N Sync, saw its "No Strings Attached" album debut with 2.42 million at No. 1 on the April 8, 2000 Billboard 200 chart.
In the late '00s and into the '10s, enormous sales weeks became less frequent, as more people opted to stream albums or purchase digital tracks.
Thus, since 2005, there have just been eight weeks where an album did 850,000-plus. All seven of them did so in their debut frames: 50 Cent's "The Massacre" (1.14 million; March 19, 2005), Kanye West's "Late Registration" (860,000; Sept. 17, 2005), West's "Graduation" (957,000; Sept. 29, 2007), Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter III" (1.01 million; June 28, 2008), Taylor Swift's "Speak Now" (1.05 million; Nov. 13, 2010), Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" (1.11 million, June 11, 2011), Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter IV" (964,000; Sept. 17, 2011) and Swift's "Red" (1.21 million; Nov. 10, 2012).
Sources say Apple's iTunes Store is leading the way in terms of sales of "20/20," with Target the No. 2-seller of the set. The latter was the only retailer with an exclusive version of the album. Target's deluxe CD edition includes two bonus songs unavailable anywhere else: "Dress On" and "Body Count."
"Initial sales for 'The 20/20 Experience' at Target are exceeding our expectations and put it in a position to be one of our best-selling albums in the last 10 years," Anne Stanchfield, Target's divisional merchandise manager of entertainment, tells Billboard.
"For the launch of the album, Target focused on bringing our guests more of what they love about Justin. Our two broadcast spots served up some surprises, and Monday night’s release party gave fans a chance to be a part of an intimate performance through an innovative partnership with Clear Channel and the CW."
While iTunes is selling "20/20" for $10.99 -- as is its main competitor, Amazon MP3 -- Target is offering its exclusive version for $9.99. Trumping all three is both Walmart and Amazon.com, which are selling the standard physical CD for only $7.
On SoundScan's Building chart (below), Timberlake is No. 1 while new country artist Kacey Musgraves is No. 2 with her just-released album "Same Trailer, Different Park." The Building tally is a precursor to the final Billboard 200 ranking -- reflecting the first four days (Monday through Thursday) of SoundScan's tracking week as reported by six major merchants.
As for the rest of the Building chart's top 10: Bruno Mars' "Unorthodox Jukebox" is No. 3, followed by Luke Bryan's "Spring Break . . . Here to Party," P!nk's "The Truth About Love," Bon Jovi's "What About Now" and Imagine Dragons' "Night Visions" at Nos. 4-7, respectively. At No. 8 is Rihanna's "Unapologetic," with Mumford & Sons' "Babel" and the "Now 45" album at Nos. 9 and 10.
-- additional reporting by Andrew Hampp, New York
|Nielsen SoundScan Building Chart|
|1||NEW||Justin Timberlake||"The 20/20 Experience"|
|2||NEW||Kacey Musgraves||"Same Trailer, Different Park"|
|3||5||Bruno Mars||"Unorthodox Jukebox"|
|4||3||Luke Bryan||"Spring Break . . . Here to Party"|
|5||11||P!nk||"The Truth About Love"|
|6||1||Bon Jovi||"What About Now"|
|7||12||Imagine Dragons||"Night Visions"|
|9||9||Mumford & Sons||"Babel"|
|10||15||Various Artists||"Now 45"|
|The Building Chart reflects the first four days (Monday through Thursday) of SoundScan's tracking week (which ends Sunday) as reported by six major merchants: iTunes, Trans World Entertainment, Best Buy, Starbucks, Target and Anderson Merchandisers. Billboard estimates that they make up about 85% of all U.S. album sales.|