iTunes, schmiTunes. Looks like the Fab Four doesn't need Steve Jobs's fancypants online record store after all. Beatles label EMI said Tuesday that consumers in North America, Japan, and the U.K. bought more than 2.25 million compact-disc copies of the Beatles' remastered albums in the five days since their Sept. 9 release, more than one million copies in the U.S. alone.
This frenzy of Beatlemania smashed a number of records, mostly for simultaneous titles in the top-selling charts by a single artist, within the recording industry. The Beatles had 16 titles in Billboard's top 50, including all 14 remastered CDs and two box sets.
The rousing sales numbers demonstrate that, despite the precipitous decline in CD sales hammering the record industry, consumers are still willing to shell out cheddar for high-quality physical music in nice packaging and accompanied by nifty special features.
In a sense, these huge sales numbers aren't too surprising: many of the fans who shelled out for the new albums grew up listening to the Beatles -- and probably couldn't tell you the difference between an MP3 and P2P. But the strong showing is a big win for Guy Hands's U.K. private-equity firm Terra Firma Capital Partners, which bought EMI in 2007 for £3.2 billion ($6.4 billion at the time).
Hands has been on the receiving end of criticism for his oversight of the once-vaunted label. For him, sales of the remastered Beatles sales display is a nice victory -- even if it doesn't solve the long-term structural challenges rocking the industry.
"Beatlemania has returned, with fans new and old embracing these beautiful albums in their re-mastered and re-packaged forms," EMI Music CEO Elio Leoni-Scet said in a statement. "By putting the needs and desires of consumers first, the band are breaking new records around the world more than four decades after they first started recording," Leoni-Scet said. "All of us at EMI Music are very proud to have been a part of this exciting project and to have delivered an insightful and globally executed marketing plan."
The wild success of the remastered albums extends around the globe. In Japan, all 14 remastered albums and boxed sets broke the top 25, with 840,000 albums moving in the first three days, according to Billboard. In Canada, they hold the top 11 slots -- and 15 of the top 20 -- with sales of 160,000. The discs entered the French, Italian, Polish, and Belgian charts, as well as charts in Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Portugal, and Norway. In Australia, the Beatles had 14 of the top-selling records. Seven of the top 10 in Argentina are Beatles remasters. In South Korea, the Beatles held 16 of the top 17 in the country's Hottracks album chart, Billboard reported.
In particular, the remastered versions of the albums Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, have topped the charts in the U.S., the U.K., Japan, France and Canada, according to EMI.
Now all Guy Hands has to do to revive his company, and the industry, is find the next Beatles. Good luck with that.
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