Susan Boyle dreams another dream week for Sony, cracks 2009's top sellers

Last week, British sensation Susan Boyle set the record for the highest single-sales week of 2009. This week, Boyle continued to lure consumers where they'd resisted going all year: the music aisle.

I Dreamed A Dream, Boyle's debut for Sony's (SNE) Sony Music Entertainment, sold 527,000 copies in the week ending December 6, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Combined with the 702,000 copies Dream sold in its first week, its cumulative sales of 1.2 million and counting are impressive -- for 2009, at any rate. In fact, it's now officially one of this year's top 10 bestselling albums.
Endless Distribution

It wasn't surprising that consumers greeted Boyle's debut album with open arms and wallets. The dowdy Scot's rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream," from the Les Misérables musical, on Britain's Got Talent silenced the notoriously sharp-tongued Simon Cowell and became a YouTube sensation. Boyle's come-from-nowhere story, with its own tabloidy twists -- a trip to a psychiatric hospital, reports of diva-ish behavior on tour -- further endeared her to audiences.

Sony took stock of that public affection and built a strategy for Boyle's album of selling copies wherever a Boyle fan might easily find them -- from the Liberty Media (LCAPA)-owned home shopping channel QVC to Walgreens (WAG). Now the question for Sony and the music industry is whether Dream can still crack the two-million-sold mark before January 1. This year, only Taylor Swift's Fearless, from Vivendi's (VIVEF) Universal Music Group, and Michael Jackson's Number Ones, from Sony Music Entertainment, have sold 2 million copies.

QVC's $19.98 Boyle bundle -- the CD, plus a DVD documentary on the singer -- was advertised endlessly on the channel in the run-up to Dream's Nov. 25 release. Getting people where they live paid off for Sony: QVC's pre-orders added some 80,000 sales to Boyle's first-week total.

The Boyle-ing Point

Dream's second-week sales declined only by 25% from its monster first-week sales. That bucks the more prevalent scenario of album sales that peak in their first week and then decline sharply: Sales for flamboyant American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert's For Your Entertainment, which debuted last week at no. 3 with 198,000 copies sold for Sony Music Entertainment, plunged 74% during its second week on shelves.

But the combination of the encroaching holidays, Sony's sales blitz, and Boyle's appeal to a demographic sweet spot -- it's one of the groups of American consumers still buying records in 2009 -- could add up to Dream vaulting the 2 million mark before Christmas Day (when fans can cue up her version of "Silent Night").

Album sales were down 10% from the same week last year, when Britney Spears's Circus topped sales at 505,000 copies. The no. 2 album this week, Andrea Bocelli's My Christmas, sold 428,000 copies for Vivendi's Universal. Taylor Swift's Fearless, a distant no. 3, sold 127,000.

This week's Billboard top 10 albums:

1. Susan Boyle, I Dreamed A Dream (527,000 copies)
2. Andrea Bocelli, My Christmas (428,000)
3. Taylor Swift, Fearless (127,000)
4. R. Kelly, Untitled (114,000)
5. Lady GaGa, The Fame (84,000)
6. Carrie Underwood, Play On (81,000)
7. Norah Jones, The Fall (80,000)
8. Michael Jackson, This Is It (75,000)
9. Various Artists, New Moon soundtrack (72,000)
10. Michael Bublé, Crazy Love (72,000)
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