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The two artists and their labels have employed strikingly different strategies to get to this point.

LANA V. SAM: THE CHART RACE HEATS UP—UPDATE

Fans Voting With Their Wallets for Del Rey's Ultraviolence, Smith's In the Lonely Hour

A tightening battle for the top spot on next week’s chart is shaping up between Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence and Sam Smith’s debut album In the Lonely Hour following outstanding marketing jobs on the parts of John Janick’s Interscope and Steve Barnett’s Capitol, respectively, with both debuts off to bracingly fast starts.

According to the latest retail reports on Thursday morning, Del Rey’s album is on track to finish in the neighborhood of 180-190k, while we’re presently projecting a total in the 150-160k range for Smith, though this is not an exact science, and the picture could certainly change between now and Sunday.

The two artists and their labels have employed strikingly different strategies to get to this point, with Smith remaining highly visible on TV, while his "Stay With Me" has been widely embraced by radio. Del Rey’s presence, by contrast, is primarily online, as she and IGA have dexterously used social media and YouTube to engage her large and fiercely loyal core audience. Her fanbase includes friends in high places, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, who both took to Twitter last night raving about Ultraviolence.

Smith’s fan base may have been more recently minted, but it’s similarly impassioned. With a great first week taking shape, it appears that the ceiling is virtually unlimited for the breakout young artist, because as fans spread the word, the brand will grow along with his audience. Indeed, many industry observers believe this is just the beginning of an album with such a wide demographic appeal that it will eventually sell millions. Will the word of mouth spread fast enough for him to catch LDR, who’s riding a brilliant campaign of herown?

Continue to check this space for updates as we get them.

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