Leave it to the very insightful Music Row Editor David Ross to add a dose of reality to the reasons for the pullback by major labels:
A week-by-week 4th quarter 06/05 comparison reveals that 2006 4th Quarter Top 75 Current Country sales are about 3.23 million units behind last year’s pace YTD. The 2006 4th quarter release schedule kept pace with 2005 through the week ending 11/12, but then faltered. For example, this past week (12/17) sold over 775,000 less Top 75 units than the same week in 2005.
PS: Sony-BMG's Underwood and Disney's Flatts Lead 4th Quarter Sales
The ’05/’06 current country Top 75 sales gap increased the week ending 12/17/06 fell an additional 778,730 units spreading the Nov./Dec. deficit to 3.23 million units. Carrie Underwood and Rascal Flatts continue to be country’s top sellers this week (199,114 and 142,719 respectively), but were the only CDs to break the 100k unit barrier for the week. Last year’s list of 12/18/2005 boasted seven titles in 99k+ category, with Underwood and Chesney in the 200s.Keith Urban (92,010), Sugarland (90,592) and George Strait (68,119) again filled out the Top 5 positions (week ended 12/17/06). On the mainstream sales chart 26 CDs scanned 100k+ units for the current week. Underwood placed No. 6, edged out by debuts from Young Jeezy (352,392) and fellow American Idol alum Taylor Hicks (298,199).