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As the heat
builds, look for programmers to become even more impatient with records that don’t immediately perform.
THE RADIO DERBY HITS
THE HOME STRETCH
With Airplay Driving Album Sales, the Majors Have a Lot on the Line as They Take Their Superstar Singles to Radio
With the Q4 pressure cooker beginning to boil, natural selection is already taking hold, as more and more must-get records vie for fewer and fewer slots at radio. Among those thriving are the Santana, Matchbox Twenty, Jennifer Lopez and Eminem singles, while those having already fallen by the wayside include first singles from Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, LeAnn Rimes and Shaggy (though his second single, "Strength of a Woman," is being very well received this week). As the heat builds, look for programmers to become even more impatient with records that don’t immediately perform.

Apart from the superstars mentioned above, upcoming albums from Justin Timberlake, Missy Elliott and Shania Twain are being set up beautifully by smash singles, while spins on the new one from Madonna—the title track from the next James Bond movie, Die Another Day—will drive sales on the soundtrack album.

Negatives from radio don’t derail every album project. The first Faith Hill single is struggling at Country and Pop, although Hill’s album looks like it will debut at #1 while moving around 400k.

Meanwhile, at Rock and PoMo, we’re seeing classic setups from the likes of Pearl Jam, Nirvana (just typing those names makes us nostalgic for the good old days of the early ’90s), Rage/Chris Cornell combine Audioslave and Foo Fighters, all of whom have Top 10 singles at the formats—and this at a time when rock is surging. And the success stories aren’t limited to veteran acts; young rockers Chevelle and Taproot are kicking serious butt at Active, paving the way for breakout albums.

Obviously, the hits from all these big guns are crowding out records from developing acts, Chevelle and Taproot excepted. This is the sort of thing that happens every fall, but this year the situation seems that much more extreme because of the decreasing number of slots.

Who will be the big winners—and the big losers—this fall? We’ll find out in the coming weeks.

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