Ask Billboard

Answers to readers' questions about Beck, Belinda Carlisle and the death of the CD.

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Hello Keith,

I'm an avid reader of your column but tend to find the questions revolve around the sales figures for Madonna, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey somewhat repeatedly.

I was reading an article on Beck the other day and was curious as to how his records have sold since his major label debut.

Thanks and have a great day.

Jay Kemp

Hi Jay,

Oh snap. Well, I can't help it if I get a lot of questions about female pop artists. The column is designed to address the burning questions that fans have about the industry and their favorite artists. Questions that, in theory, Billboard's crack editorial team can answer. Evidently, fans of divas dig Ask Billboard. (Certainly, I'm not hiding the fact that I'm a big fan of Madonna, but that doesn't mean I'm not open to taking questions about anything and everyone.)

So, let's talk about Beck. His most recent album, "The Information," has sold 359,000 since it was released in October 2006 according to Nielsen SoundScan. The set's current single, "Think I'm In Love," is currently climbing the Alternative/Modern Rock chart.

The album will be released in a deluxe edition in the U.S. on Feb. 27. The expanded edition of the set boasts three songs previously only available internationally as well as six remixes.

Since SoundScan began tracking data in 1991, Beck has sold 7.1 million albums in the U.S. His best seller is the Grammy Award-winning "Odelay," which has moved 2.2 million. It spawned the hits "Where It's At," "Devil's Haircut," "The New Pollution" and "Jack-Ass."


Hi Keith,

Belinda Carlisle recently released her album "Voila" in the U.S. I believe it was her first solo record in 10 years. I was wondering if it charted and, if not, how many copies it sold its first week out? I'm curious, also, as to what her charting solo singles were on The Billboard Hot 100, as well as her album sales for her previous solo records.

Thanks so much!

Los Angeles

Hi David,

Belinda Carlisle's "Voila" has sold about 3,000 in its first two weeks of release in the U.S. Not so bad, considering it's sung entirely in French and Carlisle has been off the pop radar for an eternity. The album highlights French classics from the '40s through '60s, including "La Vie En Rose."

Carlisle's last studio album, 1996's "A Woman & a Man," has sold 17,000 in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Carlisle hasn't appeared on any Billboard chart since 1991, when "Do You Feel Like I Feel?" peaked at No. 73 on The Billboard Hot 100. The singer had a string of solo hits from 1986 through 1991, including five top 20 Hot 100 singles. They are "Mad About You" (No. 3), "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" (No. 1), "I Get Weak" (No. 2), "Circle in the Sand" (No. 7) and "Leave A Light On" (No. 11). As lead singer of the Go-Go's, she helped the band notch four top 20 Hot 100 hits ¬ "Our Lips Are Sealed" (No. 20), "We Got the Beat" (No. 2), "Vacation" (No. 8) and "Head Over Heels" (No. 11).

The Go-Go's are famously the first all-female band to hit No. 1 on The Billboard 200 albums chart. The group's "Beauty and the Beat" spent six weeks at No. 1 in 1982.

(Poor "We Got The Beat" was stuck at No. 2 on the Hot 100 for three weeks behind Joan Jett & the Blackhearts' "I Love Rock 'N Roll." I suppose it's only fair then that Jett's album of the same name was blocked from No. 1 on The Billboard 200 by -- you guessed it -- "Beauty and the Beat.")



With the decline of sales of the physical CD, do you believe that within years the format will be discontinued (and replaced by digital) downloads?

Realistically, I can see the labels doing this. There is very little manufacturing cost, no printing, no waste or returns. I would expect your answer to be that true fans will always want to hold and keep an original copy, but time marches on. Thoughts?

Vincent Detiberiis

Hello Vincent,

First, let's talk about the vinyl format. It still endures, many moons after it was introduced. While most new releases aren't issued on vinyl anymore, there are quite a few that still are.

Right now, on the March 3 Billboard 200 albums chart, eight of the top 20 albums were available on vinyl. (Fall Out Boy's "Infinity On High," Robin Thicke's "The Evolution of Robin Thicke," Justin Timberlake's "FutureSex/LoveSounds," John Mayer's "Continuum," Akon's "Konvicted," Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Stadium Arcadium," Lucinda Williams' "West" and Nelly Furtado's "Loose.")

Will vinyl eventually die out? Sure. But considering how long it has lasted, it'll be a bit longer before it disappears completely.

So, why am I talking about vinyl when you asked about the Compact Disc?

Well, the CD is still the overwhelming choice of consumers. Certainly, the sales of digital downloads are growing, but they are far off from overtaking CD sales.

Will consumers always want a tangible object to hold in their hands? Maybe, maybe not. I regularly purchase albums and singles from the Apple iTunes Music Store and it usually doesn't phase me if I don't have a jewel box to touch.

But, I will still buy a CD of a particular artist if I really want to add something to my collection at home. I still have the desire to put a CD on my shelf and display it like a book. But I'm from a different generation.

Ask a 15 year old if they care if they have the CD and I'm sure you'd get a completely different answer. My theory is that they probably haven't even bought many full albums lately. They've likely only purchased singles as digital downloads.

If that theory holds true, then I can imagine that as young consumers who grew up in the age of iTunes become music-buying adults, it's likely that they won't suddenly warm to the idea of buying a physical CD.