Heres a prediction that you can take to the bank: If the discs are good they will sell. Period! If they aren’t good, they won’t sell. Second period!

Music industry has a lot riding on final-stretch sales
By Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY
Mired in the third year of a sales slump, the music industry is counting on a handful of chart titans to salvage 2003 in the final stretch.
The September-December season, which typically accounts for more than 40% of the year’s retail action, is the most crucial period on the record business calendar. Like the film industry, the record business often saves its strongest offerings for the fourth quarter to entice holiday shoppers.
The stakes are high: With a good fall, the industry could reverse two years of decline.
But to inch ahead of 2002’s year-end total of 681 million albums, consumers will have to buy an additional 299 million albums by late December. Based on recent sales patterns, a more likely figure is 254 million albums, or 40% of the year’s estimated take. That would end the year 6.6% behind 2002 (currently the deficit is 8.6%).
Two much-touted industry initiatives ó the RIAA’s campaign to sue file sharers and Universal’s unilateral price reductions ó may have an effect on sales as the fall unfolds, but the key factor will be the appeal of new releases. This fall’s lineup appears to be a mixed bag of likely winners, potential dark horses and big question marks, with no sure bets.
“If we look at last year as a template, I don’t expect the gap to close significantly,” says Billboard chart director Geoff Mayfield. “At the same time, I don’t expect it to get a lot wider. The last two months will be when the record stores do a significant percentage of their business, but it’s not fair to expect the big horses to sew up the gap.”
The race intensifies with next Tuesday’s bounty of new releases, including potential chart toppers by Outkast, Limp Bizkit, Nickelback and Dave Matthews. Britney Spears, Pink and American Idol champs Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard may be among hot sellers that provide a second wind during the last laps.
Fall sales as a percentage of each year’s total have been falling slightly, from 42.6% in 1998 to 40.4% in 2002. The variations may be a result of such pre-fall whoppers as ‘N Sync’s Celebrity in August 2001 (1.9 million copies the first week) or The Eminem Show in June 2002 (2.4 million copies in three weeks).
This year has yielded very few blockbusters aside from 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’, the leader with 5.9 million copies sold since February. No album this year has sold more than 1 million copies in a single week. And none of the fourth-quarter releases seem poised to break that unhappy trend.