Ask Billboard

Keith Caulfield answers readers' questions about seasonal albums, Gloria Estefan and Kelis.

SEASONAL SELLING

Hi Keith

I just wanted to ask if you knew if seasonal or remix albums are profitable and big sellers? The reason I ask is because there are rarely ever any remix albums released, however I know there tend to be a lot of Christmas albums.

Regards

Mints

Hi Mints,

Many Christmas albums are very big sellers. Towards the end of every year, a bevy of holiday sets are released. Some sell big, like Mariah Carey's "Merry Christmas" or Celine Dion's "These Are Special Times. Some don't sell quite as well. I won't mention those here.

Though it may seem like Christmas albums have a very short shelf life -- selling only significantly in November and December of each year -- if an album becomes a perennial seller, then the artist and label will have hit paydirt. Witness Barbra Streisand's "Christmas Album," released in 1967. Each year the album sells well, and to date, the Recording Industry Association of America has certified it quintuple platinum reflecting U.S. shipments of 5 million copies.

While remix albums are produced in great quantities, few really establish themselves as hits. The most recent notable exception is the album "P. Diddy & Bad Boy Present ... We Invented the Remix." The set bowed at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 in the summer of 2002 and has sold 1.4 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Earlier that same year, Jennifer Lopez also debuted at No. 1 with "J To Tha L-O! The Remixes." The set, which has sold 1.4 million units, featured both hip-hop and dance mixes of her singles.



G-L-O-R-I-A

Dear Keith,

I thoroughly enjoy reading your weekly column; I think it's the best feature on billboard.com.

I'm interested in finding out what happened to Gloria Estefan. She was one of the leading icons of the Latin pop movement in the 1980s and '90s. As of late, her albums haven't really sold well and she's hardly played on radio stations. To what do you attribute her declining sales and can you give me a recap of her music sales?

Thanks,

Jamesetta
Miami

Hi Jamesetta,

In the 1980s and early to mid '90s, Gloria Estefan was a staple at mainstream top 40 radio. However, as time progressed, her music became less desirable to top 40 programmers, but she found a new home at adult contemporary radio. It goes without saying that she's always been a constant at Latin radio.

With the lessened exposure in the '90s, Estefan's albums progressively sold fewer units. And in general, it's difficult for any artist to maintain a high level of sales over an extended period of time. It has nothing necessarily to do with the quality of the music that Estefan makes. Trends and tastes change, and there are few artists that can maintain huge sales numbers over the years.

Here the U.S. sales totals for Estefan's albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan, beginning in 1991:

"Into The Light" (1991) - 1.8 million
"Greatest Hits" (1992) - 2.9 million
"Mi Tierra" (1993) - 1.2 million
"Christmas Through Your Eyes" (1993) - 858,000
"Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" (1994) - 1.7 million
"Abriendo Puertas" (1995) - 430,000
"Destiny" (1996) - 877,000
"Gloria!" (1998) - 568,000
"Alma Caribena - Caribbean Soul" (2000) - 261,000
"Greatest Hits Vol. II" (2001) - 154,000
"Unwrapped" (2003) - 152,000



TASTY!

Hello Keith,

I heard that Kelis' third album, "Tasty," has sold more than 500,000 copies and gone gold. Did "Tasty" really go gold? How much did her first release "Kaleidoscope" sell? I also heard from a friend that her single "Milkshake" has gone gold in America as well.

Do you have any information as to why the second "Tasty" single, "Trick Me," has not been [commercially] released in America? I know that in Australia the single has gone platinum, and has done well in the U.K.

Orville

Hi Orville,

Surprise, "Tasty" has indeed gone gold in the United States. It was certified gold in February by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of 500,000 units to retailers.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks point-of-purchase sales of albums to consumers, the album has sold 498,000 in the United States, while her debut, "Kaleidoscope," has sold 240,000.

The commercial single for "Milkshake" has not been certified gold by the RIAA. It has sold about 54,000 units in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"Trick Me" was the second radio single from "Tasty" here in the U.S., but it never got off the ground at radio. It peaked at No. 7 on Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart in March. Over the in the U.K., on the other hand, it was a top 10 hit.