On the Billboard charts dated Oct. 22, four full-length releases that qualify for the Americana/Folk Albums chart -- Bon Iver's 22, A Million, Bob Weir's Blue Mountain, Van Morrison's Keep Me Singing and Drive-By Truckers' American Band -- landed among the top 10 highest-selling albums overall (in the tracking week ending Oct. 6, according to Nielsen Music). That's an outsize performance for Americana, and represents more in sales than any other genre outside of rock (for which all four also qualify) among the top 10. In other words, Americana albums outsold R&B/hip-hop, dance and, most notably, country among the Top Album Sales chart's top 10. It's the first time the genre has bested country sales among weekly top 10-sellers since Billboard rebranded the Folk Albums chart as Americana/Folk Albums beginning with the chart dated June 4.
While that may seem surprising -- particularly given the star power that dominates the Top Country Albums chart, led this week by Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Chris Stapleton -- it's the latest milestone in a larger trend surrounding the emergence of Americana into the commercial mainstream.
"I think it's burgeoning in the commercial marketplace for a community that already existed in a non-commercial marketplace," says Jed Hilly, executive director of the Americana Music Association. "I think that the fact that there's a word in the dictionary, there's a Grammy Award, [now] there's a place for these artists who don't necessarily fit in the mainstream commercial boxes, but do have artistic similarities can call home."