Thursday, September 10, 2009
With a little help from their fans, The Beatles again rule the marketplace as Fab Four fever greeted Wednesday's release of the band's remastered catalog and The Beatles: Rock Band.
Discs are moving steadily, with the $260 stereo and $299 mono box sets selling out at many outlets. Even the band's website alerted buyers that new box orders would not be shipped until late October "due to the incredible demand."
At Amazon, the stereo and mono sets ranked first and second on the list of music best sellers, even though the site's allotment sold out the week before and new orders won't ship for up to six weeks. The Beatles held 15 spots in the top 20.
Healthy opening-week sales are expected, but industry observers offer caveats. The multi-disc sets, which will register along with new releases on Billboard's album chart, count as one unit each. And because those are selling so briskly, they could siphon from à la carte sales, which are tallied on the catalog chart.
Nonetheless, The Beatles, with 28 million albums sold since 2000, may overtake Eminem's 32 million to become the decade's best-selling artist. That race ends Dec. 31.
"This isn't a one-week project," says Keith Caulfield, Billboard's chart analyst, pointing to the anticipated holiday shopping bonanza. "Is it conceivable they could catch up? Yes. I'm confident they'll put up a good fight."
Midnight launches at Best Buys in 10 cities drew enthusiastic turnouts.
"We definitely saw customers and fans excited," says Best Buy's Erin Bix. "I was in the Mall of America (outside Minneapolis), and people were picking up both" the game and the discs.
"First-day sales surpassed our forecast," says Game Crazy vice president Rob MacNaughton. The Beatles-themed Rock Band "is helping to reinvigorate the music genre. We're seeing more families come in to purchase this game, as it bridges the generation gap and exposes video gaming to a broader audience."
An even bigger spike for the game should kick in during the holidays.
"The launch is really targeted at gamers," says Van Toffler, MTV Networks Music Group president. "The second round will go toward 'gifters' — wives buying for husbands and moms buying for kids."