It may not have been a day we’ll never forget, but the addition of the Beatles music catalog to iTunes was no small thing. Backed by a ubiquitous marketing campaign that included billboards and prominent TV spots, sales of Beatles music on iTunes have been booming. Since first going on sale on November 16th, users have downloaded over 450,000 albums and 2 million songs worldwide. As a point of interest, the most downloaded Beatles album thus far is Abbey Road while the most downloaded song is Here Comes the Sun. Billboard notes that of the 450,000 album tally, 119,000 of those sales were to US customers.
The Fab Four’s debut-week sales on iTunes compare favorably with the first-week sales of previous iTunes holdouts. When Led Zeppelin’s catalog made its digital debut in November 2007, the band generated total U.S. digital album sales of 47,000 units, which included sales of 33,000 units of the two-volume hits compilation “Mothership,” which was released the same week… Led Zeppelin’s first-week individual track sales totaled 300,000, according to SoundScan.
But these numbers also show that digital music consumers aren’t necessarily holding their breath to pounce on buying music when holdouts finally join the fray. Led Zeppelin’s entire catalog may have generated digital track sales of 300,000, but Eminem’s digital track “Not Afraid” alone sold 379,000 units in the its debut week ended May 9, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
It’s a brave new world, folks, and unless you’re an iconic and monumental band like the Beatles, you better get on iTunes. The digital music revolution has been underway for some time now, and like Ferris Beuler famously said, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it. That being the case, there still are a few big name musical acts that remain resilient in their refusal to hop on board the iTunes bandwagon. They include AC/DC, Tool, and Kid Rock.
Opining on their absence from iTunes, AC/DC guitarist (and part time schoolboy) Angus Young explained, “Our real reason is that we honestly believe the songs on any of our albums belong together. If we were on iTunes, we know a certain percentage of people would only download two or three songs from the album – and we don’t think that represents us musically.”
Fair enough, and we can respect that, but come on, does Angus really believe that fans listen to their albums straight on through without skipping from track to track?