Ask Billboard: LaBelle, RBD, Tim McGraw

Keith answers questions about LaBelle, RBD, Tim McGraw and more

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Keith Caulfield at Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.



I was surprised that Curb Records elected to issue Tim McGraw's "Greatest Hits 3" considering the fact that he's only had one studio release since his last hits collection. Then McGraw himself issued a statement blasting the decision. Does an artist of McGraw's success and stature really have no say whatsoever in the way a label markets his product? I could see this haphazard package (no new material to speak of) being released if he jumped ship to another label. But it seems odd happening this way. Your thoughts?

Jon Salem
Jackson, Miss.

Hi Jon,

Not to be cagey, but each case is really unique. From McGraw's statement(which you can read at his Web site, it sounds as if his label choose to put out the "Greatest Hits 3" album and McGraw had no option but to agree with their decision. The best-of package ended up debuting at No. 1 on Top Country Albums, giving McGraw his 11th No. 1.



I enjoy reading your column every week and am amazed at the questions you are able to answer. Here's mine: Today, I bought the Labelle reunion disc, "Back To Now," and I understand it's been more than three decades since the last full-length recording from the trio of Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash. How many full-length albums has Labelle, the group, recorded and are there sales totals available since I am assuming they were recorded before the SoundScan era?

Also, could you contrast that with Patti LaBelle's solo work? It seems that LaBelle has been a consistent force in the music industry forever and it would be very interesting to learn her sales history. Have Hendryx or Dash recorded full-length solo albums? And if so, how well have they sold? Why do you think it took 30 years for the trio to reunite?

Marvin Johnson
Washington, D.C.

Hi Marvin,

Our R&B editor Gail Mitchell interviewed the ladies of Labelle in our Oct. 18 issue of Billboard. In the story, Patti LaBelle said, "I really didn't know if we still had the vocal power, but after we did the first song, I knew we were still some hot mamas." Of course, hearing LaBelle questioning her vocal chops is amusing, considering she has one of the most loved voices in music.

That said, it's been a very long time since their last album. The trio's last set, "Chameleon," was released in 1976. The new "Back to Now," which came out on Oct. 21, is the act's seventh release. All told, of the albums that are being tracked in SoundScan's database (because not all of them are currently available), they have sold 47,000 since 1991, when SoundScan was established.

As a solo act, Patti LaBelle has sold 4.4 million albums in the U.S. since Nielsen SoundScan set up shop in 1991.


Hello Keith,

My name is Jose and I'm a huge fan of RBD. They have been in the music business for only four years, but they have sold millions of albums worldwide. How many albums have they sold in both the U.S. alone and worldwide?

Not too long ago they announced that they were splitting up. Do you think this is a good thing, based on [their] sales? Do you think they have a chance to make it on the American charts? My last question is: are they one of the most successful Latin artists here in the states?

Jose Ocampo

Hello Jose,

In the U.S., RBD's collected albums have sold just under 2 million according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Unfortunately, SoundScan does not tabulate global sales, so we don't have a verifiable number for the group's worldwide sales. However, RBD's label claims that they have sold 14.9 million globally.

Is it a good thing they are breaking up based on their sales? Well, I don't know about that. I'll let the figures be the judge. The act's last release, 2007's "Empezar Desde Cero," has sold 102,000. RBD's previous two albums, "Rebels" and "Celestial," sold 225,000 and 498,000, respectively.

In RBD's short career, they charted six albums on the Top Latin Albums chart, with three of those reaching No. 1. on our Hot Latin Songs chart, they notched 10 hits, one of those being "Ser O Parecer," hitting No. 1.


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