Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Big Beatles iTunes Sales Not What They Seem

Apple Corps announced today that The Beatles have sold 450,000 digital albums and 2 million digital singles worldwide in the first week that they've been available on iTunes. On the surface these look like fantastic numbers, but dig a little deeper and you see that they're not what they seem.

First of all, 450k albums in the opening week should nowadays be great for any artist, let alone a band from 40 years ago. But this figure is not for one album, it's for 13, which tempers the numbers a great deal. Then the fact that these are worldwide figures tempers the figure even more. Only 119k of these album sales were from the US, which is much less than I would've anticipated.

As a comparison, Take That sold more than 520,000 of their new Progress album last week in the UK alone. In the US, Abbey Road came in at #6 (at only 16,000 sales) and The Beatles Box Set came in at #10 for the week, behind the likes of Rhianna and the cast of Glee.

"Here Comes The Sun" was the most purchased Beatle's single, but only came in at #54 while "Let It Be" ranked #60.

Bottom line, despite the numbers, this was a tremendous marketing failure for both iTunes and EMI, the band's distributor. If they would've released the albums incrementally instead of all at once, they would've kept the momentum going over a longer period of time, made each album release an event, and sold more product in the long run. In the end, they violated one of the main rules of Music 3.0 - Release more product more often. But then again, what do you expect from the epitome of the "old school" music business.
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2 comments:

Klemen said...

But then again, who hasn't got those albums on either vinyl, CD or both?

k

russell said...

Me not got.
I grew up with The Beatles - bought my first record (45) in 1963... at age 7... the Beatles 3rd single.
Started collecting their albums in vinyl in the 70s at college... never had the early ones. bought, sold, bought, resold, rebought as economies fluctuated and I emigrated several times. bought half their work on cassettes in the 80s.... then most of the later stuff on CDs... some remastered cds too... and ripped most of my and friends' Cds to mp3s (got the rare ones on P2P.... so... what does that trend as? I may pick up a few songs off iTunmes, but most likely not until the Anthology series is released. Which I will cherry pick. I agree with the writer, they woulda had a bigger hit factor on a one at a time release, but, ultimately it was a great PR coup, amnd no-one needs the money, really, do they?

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