Music Biz Hoping That Whitney Houston’s New Album Will Restore At Least A Little Honor To Its Doings

noah | August 27, 2009 12:30 pm

Whitney Houston’s I Look To You comes out on Monday, and a lengthy piece in Variety analyzes the potential for it to shake up what’s been a pretty dreadful year for the music marketplace. That it’ll be No. 1 on the charts in its debut week is something of a given; the only artists who have albums coming out next week and anything resembling similar commercial potential are Pitbull and They Might Be Giants. But will Whitney’s first week put up monster numbers like Eminem (whose Relapse had a first-week sales total of 608,000, the biggest in ’09), or will her bow be more similar to Reba McEntire’s 96,000-sold No. 1 debut? Whatever the case, don’t expect Whitney to “make it back on the road”—at least not at first:

Seviour said the label plans on shipping 600,000-700,000 units to retailers. “If this was five years ago, we’d probably be shipping 1.3 million records,” he said. “But because digital is such a variable, and it’s unlimited, the (shipping) number doesn’t look that big.” Since both Seviour and Davis see the album as loaded with singles potential, digital downloads could make up for less-than-stellar disc sales. With No. 1 debuts over the course of 2009 mostly in the low six-digit range, industry watchers are keeping a close eye on the album’s opening salvo. Eminem’s “Relapse” has been the only album to breach a half million in sales (608,000) during the calendar year, with U2 the next closest at 484,000, according to Trust. The last artist to top a million was Lil Wayne in June 2008, said Trust. There are currently no plans for Houston to tour, and the label, with the help of PMK-HBH, is limiting Houston’s exposure to a few key TV appearances for now. Houston will perform Sept. 1 on “Good Morning America,” which has been trumpeting the singer’s appearance for weeks, and she’ll also be on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which will devote the entire hour to the singer on Sept. 14. “I’m sure that she will have more live engagements,” said Davis, “but I’m more interested in her doing these shows. When she does television engagements, you’re talking about reaching millions of people, not 15,000. She’s really more akin to Streisand than she is a rock artist. You’re not going to get Whitney Houston doing one-nighters.”

The Oprah appearance—which, it should be noted, will serve as the show’s season premiere—would seem to be the wild-card here, as the one-two punch of her music and her redemption story will probably strike quite the chord with viewers. It would make sense for the Oprah site to sell the CD (or at least provide an iTunes link), though, wouldn’t it? What with the ever-increasing absence of record stores from the landscape and all.New “Look” For Whitney Houston [Variety]