A hits package Hollywood’s Hilary Duff and an album of new material from Arista Nashville/RLG’s Brad Paisley are moving out of stores in such comparable numbers that it’s way too soon to call a winner.

ONE-DAY SALES: HILARY AND BRAD HAVE A DATE AT THE TOP

Teenpop Star and Young Country Star Neck and Neck in Early Returns
While the industry is preoccupied with hot exce-on-exec action at WMG, consumers have been flocking to the stores to pick up copies of just-released albums by a pair of rising stars. A hits package Hollywood’s Hilary Duff and an album of new material from Arista Nashville/RLG’s Brad Paisley are moving out of stores in such comparable numbers that it’s way too soon to call a winner. Both releases are heading toward expected first-week totals in the 200k range.

Duff’s TV blitz is helping to fuel her rise, while Paisley is another thoroughbred in a stable of crossover country stars who’ve been groomed by the RLG tandem of Joe Galante and Butch Waugh. The Nashville label group is having an impressive year in a depressed market, as Galante and Waugh lead the big-hat brigade into what is shaping up to be an even bigger fourth quarter.

Also bowing is the latest from veteran rockers 311 (Zomba/ZLG), who are cruising toward the 100k neighborhood.

The next tier of debuts comprises a pair of emerging young bands, as the mop-topped power-popsters Click Five (on the suddenly in-the-spotlight Lava/Atlantic label) find themselves locked in a duel with Silverstein, the latest offering from hot indie Victory. Both bands are trending 30k-40k.

And now, alas, for the greater context. Music sales were down 3.4% (or 359k units) from last week, and down 10.8% (or 1.2 million) from the comparable week a year ago. Total weekly sales were 10.2 million, bringing the grand total for the year to date to 344.4 million—nearly 31 million units off last year’s pace (that’s 8.2% for those of you keeping score).

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