'N Sync Crush First-Week Sales Record
"No Strings Attached" sells 2.4 million copies in debut week

'N Sane sales

In a blockbuster sales performance that has even jaded music industry veterans stunned, `N Sync's new album No Strings Attached not only beat the record for most copies sold during a single week, but it shattered the old mark. No Strings Attached sold 2.4 million copies for the week ending March 26, according to SoundScan. That more than doubles the record set last May when the Backstreet Boys' Millennium sold 1.1 million copies its first week in stores.

Some perspective? This would be like Mark McGwire beating the old, single-season home record of 61 by hitting not 70 dingers, but 130. It would be like this summer's big blockbuster flick selling $300 million worth of movie tickets its first week out, not $140 million. It would be like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire pulling in 70 million viewers a night, instead of its already top-rated 28 million viewers. In other words, `N Sync's performance is off the charts, with nothing in the music industry's history to compare it to.

Exactly how big is 2.4 million copies sold? No Strings Attached sold more copies than albums No. 2 through No. 25 combined last week. The album instantly became the No. 2 selling record for all of 2000, and, come next week, it will likely replace Santana's Supernatural as the year's No. 1.

Naturally the buying spree was a feast for music retailers. No doubt they were hoping the stampede of shoppers would mean lots of sales increases for other titles as well, as shoppers filled their arms on the way to the check-out. However, that didn't really happen. Only one album inside the Top 40 saw real significant sales gains over the previous week; Jay-Z's Volume 3: The Life & Times of S. Carter, which jumped from No. 38 to No. 28. As a matter of fact `N Sync's own self-titled debut didn't even see much of a bump, even though more than two million fans crowded into stores last week. That seems to indicate that shoppers had one thing on their minds: No Strings Attached.

And with the massive marketing campaign the band and its label Jive Records undertook, can you blame consumers for murmuring "No Strings Attached" in their sleep? The group has been everywhere during the month of March, particularly at MTV, which seemed to hand over its programming schedule to `N Sync for hours (days?) at a time. Clearly, it all paid off.

But let's not forget about artists who also scored what during a normal business week would have been considered strong debuts. Rapper Ice Cube's latest, War & Peace, Vol. 2 came in at No. 3. After a four-year hiatus Pantera's hard rock returned with Reinventing the Steel, debuting at No. 4, while the latest entry from the world of professional wrestling anthem wars, WWF Aggression, landed at No. 8.

From the top, it was No Strings Attached, followed by Santana's Supernatural (selling 267,000 copies); Ice Cube's War & Peace, Vol. 2 (185,000); Pantera's Reinventing the Steel (161,000); Sisqo's Unleash the Dragon (158,000); Dr. Dre's Dr. Dre 2001 (133,000); Macy Gray's On How Life Is (116,000); WWF Aggression (110,000); Destiny's Child's Writing's on the Wall (108,000); Kid Rock's Devil Without a Cause (99,000).

(March 30, 2000)