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The CMA Awards: They're important -- really

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Wednesday night's Country Music Assn. Awards are a model of consistency. A look at the nominees for male and female vocalist of the year reveals that eight of the 10 in the running are holdovers from last year. As for the show's top prize in the entertainer of the year field, four of the last five years the trophy has gone to Kenny Chesney.

Change to the Nashville music community does not happen overnight. But sales certainly do, and the CMAs pack a mighty wallop. 

The CMAs had a massive effect on last year's pop chart, according to figures released earlier this year by Nielsen SoundScan. In the week following the awards show, genre sales were up more than 80% in three of the last seven years.

Last year, country sales were up 89%, thanks, of course, to the sensation known as Taylor Swift. Her "Fearless" was released during the week of the CMA Awards, and it went on to sell 592,000 copies in its opening frame. With a little boost from Swift, overall album sales -- country and non-country -- were up 27%.

The lowest post-CMA sales bump occurred in 2007. That year, the Eagles' "Long Road Out of Eden" was released the week prior to the CMAs, and had already sold 710,000 copies by the time the sales from the CMAs were tallied. More typical was 2006, when country sales were up about 45%, driven by new releases from Keith Urban and Sugarland.

The 89% sales burst driven by Swift last year was the second-highest post-CMA sales bump. Only one artist helped drive a greater increase, and that was the singer who helped open the crossover doors for Swift: Shania Twain.

Twain's "Greatest Hits" package, released in 2004, inspired, in part, a 92% post-CMA jump for country music when it sold 530,000 copies in its debut week. Country superstar Toby Keith also had a greatest hits album that week in 2004, which sold more than 400,000 copies in its own right.

Don't necessarily expect such high numbers this year. There wasn't a blockbuster country release today;  the biggest new country album was released last week with Carrie Underwood's "Play On." She'll be hosting and performing on the CMAs, and the album will debut on Wednesday's chart with somewhere around 300,000 copies sold, acccording to Billboard.

-- Todd Martens

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Photos:  Carrie Underwood, top, and Taylor Swift. Credit: Getty Images

 
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