It seems that the new trend among today's big albums is that only one store can sell them. I always thought that you wanted to get the most exposure possible. Then why are some of the biggest names in rock only selling career defining albums at one specific retail store? The answer is simple: MONEY!
While store exclusives isn't anything new, selling entire albums of brand new material exclusively at one store is becoming a big thing. In 2005, everybody thought Garth Brooks was crazy when he signed an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart. He released a 6-CD box set which contained a disc of unreleased songs. It sold over 500,000 copies on the date it was released and over 1 million copies by the end of 2005. Last year, the Eagles made a similar deal with Wal-Mart, in that it would sell their first CD of brand new material in over 20 years. Since its release last year, it has sold over 5 million copies. Another Wal-Mart example is the band Journey. They released their brand-new album, with new lead singer Arnel Pineda, exclusively through Wal-Mart. It contained 1CD of new material, 1CD of rerecorded classics and 1 live DVD. Revelation sold over 107,000 copies in its first week and debuting at #5 on the Billboard charts. A feat that hasn't been matched by the band since original singer Steve Perry and drummer Steve Smith left the band. The latest supergroup to sign with Wal-Mart was AC/DC. They released their 15th studio album, "Black Ice" exclusively through Wal-Mart. It sold 1,762,000 units in its first week and shipped 5 million copies worldwide. It was the band's biggest new album debut ever.
Wal-Mart is not the only big fish in the pond. Best Buy also has their share of exclusives. Last year, Best Buy exclusively sold the Tom Petty The Heartbreakers documentary "Runnin' Down A Dream", which contained 3DVDs and 1CD. Just this past month, Best Buy has exclusively sold Elton John's "The Red Piano" 2DVD, 2CD set and The Police "Certifiable" 2DVD, 2CD set. But, Best Buy has done what no other retailer could do for the past 15 years and that was to get Axl Rose to release the long-awaited new Gun N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy". This album is one of the most aticapated rock albums of all time and will only be available at Best Buy stores. So, if you want to get your hands (or ears) on a copy of this album on CD (or vinyl), you'll have to make your way to the nearest Best Buy on November 23 or order it online at bestbuy.com.
As I write this, I'm beginning to think that stores having exclusive albums isn't such a bad thing. The artist makes money on the deal, the store makes money on the sales and the consumer buys the album at a resonable price. But, when will this all get out of hand? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.