The music business was hopeful for robust shopping on Black Friday, and why not? Overall consumer interest was up from last year, indie retail rolled out special exclusives from artists like U2, Metallica, and the Gaslight Anthem, and a full roster of new superstar releases just hit the shelves - Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday" and Ke$ha's "Cannibal," to name a few. What are the early results? Until the hard sales data is in, here's a look at how select stores performed and insight into some of the top sellers from a sampling of markets on Friday.


BARNES & NOBLE
The Shops at Riverside, 187 Riverside Square, Hackensack, N.J.


Photo by Louis Hau

Foot traffic (1 - 5 scale, 5 the highest): 1.5
Featured specials: Susan Boyle, "The Gift," $12.99; Jackie Evancho, "O Holy Night," $8.99; Josh Groban, "Illuminations," $16.99
The scene: By providing only modest discounts on new releases, Barnes & Noble didn't offer much to draw music shoppers to the store. Not surprisingly, the Hackensack, N.J., store's second-floor music section was nearly deserted at midday. In a 15-minute span, we saw only three customers perusing music titles.
Biggest sellers: Susan Boyle, "The Gift"; Rod Stewart, "Fly Me To The Moon: The Great American Songbook Volume V"; Josh Groban, "Illuminations."



BEST BUY
1100 N Galleria Drive, Middletown, N.Y.

Foot traffic: Store 4, music department 2
Featured specials: Carole King & James Taylor "Live At The Troubadour;" Rihanna "Loud;" Keith Urban "Get Closer;" Katy Perry "Teenage Dream;" Bon Jovi "Greatest Hits;" Maroon 5 "Hands All Over;" each 6.99 each.
The scene: It was clear that this store was well shopped during the day: the music section was sparsely stocked and many titles were out of place.
Best sellers: No word from the clerks on the best selling titles of the day, though many titles appeared to be sold out, including new albums and/or the latest by Usher, Drake, Big Boi, Avenge Sevenfold, Tom Petty, Rick Ross, Eminem, Justin Bieber, Dierks Bently, Tech N9ne, Lee Dwyze and Ozzy Osbourne.



BORDERS
281 Daniel Webster Hwy, Nashua, N.H.


iPhone photo by Chris M. Walsh

Foot traffic: 4 compared to a normal day, 3 compared to other Black Fridays, according to Borders clerk Eric Valentine.
Featured specials: $6.99-$9.99 pricing on hit releases.
The scene: Clerks reported high sales on Friday, though there were just a few customers in the music section during midday when Billboard was there. The store's music section - which is on the second floor and in the mix with DVDs, Blu rays and books – had two racks of specially priced titles close to the stairs (pictured) and in plain sight.
Biggest sellers: “I just had to re-stock Taylor Swift, and we’re Borders, so we’ve sold a lot of Susan Boyle and Michael Buble’ today,” said Valentine.



F.Y.E.
Galleria at Crystal Run, Middletown, N.Y.

Foot traffic: 3.5
Featured specials: The chain was featuring the new and/or latest albums by Lady Antebellum, Darious Rucker, Katy Perry, Mumford & Sons, Waka Flocka Flame, Selena Gomes, Kid Cudi, Godsmack, Taio Cruz, Rick Ross, Jason Derulo and Hollywood Undead, all at $7.99.
The scene: This is one of the chain's superstores, measuring about 15,000 square feet. Music is deeply stocked throughout the store, but it had very little of the front space by the cash registers. At 2:45 pm, there were about 85 customers in the store and by 3:00 there were about 115 customers browsing. There were small but consistent lines of about 10 customers at the registers that moved briskly during that time. The store opened at 5 am and about 20 customers were waiting in line at that time, one clerk said. Most of the doorbusters were in the portable electronics. Most of the music end-caps seemed to be well stocked, probably due to the plentiful store staff, some of whom were seen replenishing items around the store and returning stock to its proper place (That was something not seen in any of the other N.Y. stores visited that day).
Biggest sellers: A store clerk reported that the new Nicki Minaj was the best selling title for the day, but said that movies were the big movers, due to the bargains.



F.Y.E.
The Mall at Whitney Field, Leominster, Mass.


iPhone photo by Chris M. Walsh

Foot traffic: 5 compared to a normal day (“one of the busiest of the year, easily, so far,” according to a clerk) and on par with last year’s Black Friday.
Featured specials: Pricing specials were at $6.99 for CDs from artists like Justin Bieber, Melissa Ethridge, Hole and Johnny Cash, and $9.99 for titles by Ne-Yo, Jay-Z, Dane Cook and others.
The scene: Set inside a popular area mall, the store was jammed with customers browsing music, DVDs and merchandise. Though a major portion of floor space is devoted to music in this F.Y.E., the front of the store was clearly pushing DVDs and other items. Customers needed to walk past six other racks or bins of goods to see the discounted music specials after walking in the store (pictured).
Biggest sellers: Titles by Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj were “going like gangbusters,” according to one clerk.



F.Y.E.
91 Route 4 East, Paramus, N.J.


Photo by Louis Hau

Foot traffic: 3.5
Featured specials: $7.99 sale price for: Katy Perry "Teenage Dream," Darius Rucker "Charleston SC 1966," Lady Antebellum "Need You Know," Mumford & Sons "Sigh No More," Taio Cruz, "Rokstarr" and others.
The scene: This store was attracting a steady, but not overwhelming, number of customers in the early afternoon -- still a pretty impressive feat given that it's a standalone store that isn't located inside or adjacent to any of Bergen County's many shopping malls. Customers here tend to linger and browse more than they would at a big box store.
Biggest sellers: Jay-Z, "The Hits Collection, Vol. 1"; Kanye West, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"; Ne-Yo, "Libra Scale."



GRIMEY'S
1604 8th Ave. South, Nashville


Grimey's co-owner Doyle Davis in front of Black Friday specials. Photo by Glenn Peoples.

Foot traffic: A long line had formed before the store opened and Grimey’s was jam packed when it opened at 10am. After a frantic hour, traffic had died down but there were still 15-20 people browsing around the store.
Featured specials: The Black Friday exclusives at indie retail which, as reported last month, would include special products from U2, Metallica, the Black Keys, Gaslight Anthem and many more. The stores wanted to underscore the day without trying to replicate April's annual Record Store Day event, explained Michael Kurtz, president of Music Monitor Network, last month. "We limited this to less than 30 pieces because we don't want this to be seen as 'Son of Record Store Day.'" He says Record Store Day can have upward of 300 exclusive pieces.
The scene: Grimey’s had sales of over $5,000 the first hour it was open, according to co-owner Doyle Davis. The store quickly sold out of its allotments of exclusive vinyl releases by Dr. Dog, Jimi Hendrix, Sharon Jones, Frank Sinata, Gaslight Anthem and the Doors. Customers returned in strong numbers at 4pm for a free performance of Metallica’s “Live at Grimey’s” in its entirety by a cover band called Fade to Black Friday on the same stage Metallica played when the album was recorded.
Biggest sellers: Metallica’s “Live at Grimey’s,” U2’s “Wide Awake in Europe,” Jimi Hendrix “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” the Black Keys’ “Brothers Double,” George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” 3 LP reissue, and MGMT’s “Congratulations.”



NEWBURY COMICS
332 Newbury Street, Boston


iPhone photo by Chris M. Walsh

Foot traffic: 4.5 compared to a normal day, on par with last year’s Black Friday according to one clerk.
Featured specials: Across the board 10% off everything in the store plus the Black Friday exclusives at indie retail.
The scene: Situated on Boston’s posh Newbury Street shopping district, the chain's flagship store was packed on Friday toward the end of the day, when Billboard arrived. Discounted and exclusive products were easily seen when customers walked into the store. Clerks said the foot traffic had been steady all day and customers seemed most interested in the exclusives.
Biggest sellers: U2, Taco and Bruce Springsteen.



NEWBURY COMICS
293 Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua, N.H.


iPhone photo by Chris M. Walsh

Foot traffic: 5 compared to a normal day and a 4 compared to other Black Fridays according to manager Juris Magararu.
Featured specials: Across the board 10% off everything in the store plus the Black Friday exclusives at indie retail.
The scene: Roughly 30 people were waiting in line before the store opened, according to Magararu, and the store was crowded throughout the morning and during midday, when Billboard was there. The Black Friday indie exclusives were prominently displayed toward the front of the store. Newbury Comics used Facebook, Twitter and e-mail blasts to create awareness about the special deals.
Biggest sellers: Black Friday exclusives by U2, the Gaslight Anthem and Metallica. Other big sellers of the day included titles by Kid Rock and Kanye West.



RASPUTIN MUSIC & DVDs
5611 Blackstone Ave., Fresno, Calif.


Photo by Mitchell Peters

Foot traffic: 2.5
Featured specials: The Black Friday exclusives at indie retail and 50% off music posters. Vinyl exclusives on display included:
-- U2, "Wide Awake In America," $9.99 (sold out)
-- The Black Keys, "Brothers," $35.99
-- George Harrison, "All Things Must Pass," $53.99
-- Metallica, "Live at Grimey's," $27.99
-- Rod Stewart, "The Lost Album: Once In a Blue Moon," $15.99
-- Iggy Pop & the Stooges, "The Stooges," $42.99
-- Job For A Cowboy, "Ruination," $79.99
-- Parlophone, "Record Store Day," $19.99
-- and 50% of all music posters
The scene: At 1:30, the store manager expected things to pick up later, but suspected that shoppers who had started in the early hours of the morning were exhausted by this time. The store was stocked nicely and the Black Friday vinyl table was off to the side of the store near the checkout lines. The 50% off music posters were also situated near the checkout lines. All the hot sellers (Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Jimi Hendrix) were placed on the end-caps in the front of the store. So, shoppers could see them upon walking into the store. There was a mix of young and older shoppers looking through the various music genres in the CD area, and quite a few shoppers lingering in the vinyl section near the back of the store.
Biggest sellers:
Rihanna, "Loud," $15.99; Nicki Minaj, "Pink Friday," $12.99; Kanye West, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,"; Jimi Hendrix, "West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology," $60.99.



TARGET
630 Main St., Hackensack, N.J.


Photo by Louis Hau

Foot traffic: 3.5 (for music section)
Featured specials: $6.50 sale price for Lady Antebellum's self-titled debut album, Eminem's "Curtain Call," Josh Groban's "Closer," Kid Rock's "Rock N Roll Jesus," "The Ultimate Luther Vandross," Guns N' Roses' "Greatest Hits" and others.
The scene: Target drew typically bustling Black Friday crowds, with the music section getting its fair share of customers at midday. This isn't a store where music shoppers tend to browse much. Most customers stopped by looking for a specific title or briefly checked out CDs stocked in the end-caps before moving on.
Biggest sellers: No section-specific cash register at this location. Customers could be seen picking up Rihanna's "Loud" and Taylor Swift's "Speak Now" (Target carries an exclusive deluxe 2-disc edition of the album).



TARGET
Galleria at Crystal Run, Middletown, N.Y.

Foot traffic: Store: 5, Music department: 2
Featured specials: Lady Antebellum "Lady Antebellum," Guns & Roses "Greatest Hits," and Eminem's "Curtain Call;" each for $6.50.
The scene: The store was packed and had a long checkout line. All the aisles were crowded, making it difficult to browse the store. If you wanted to get away from the crowds, the music department was the place to be. In the back of the store, most of the aisles there were empty, but it was clear that it had traffic earlier in the day as the end-caps were half-picked clean.
Biggest sellers: Of the featured titles, Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday" and Josh Groban's "My World" and "2.0" appeared to be sold out. The clerks in the department said they didn't know if there were more of those titles in stock. One clerk said that Nicki Minaj was sold out before Black Friday and Miranda Lambert's "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" sold out as well. Of the catalog titles, Rascal Flatts "Greatest Hits," "Me And My Gang" and "Unstoppable" were sold out. Also not in stock on the end-caps, according to place cards, Simon & Garfunkel's "Greatest Hits," and Journey's "Greatest Hits," both of which were priced at $6.50. Clerks said the DVD section of the store, right next to the music department, was where the crowd was doing most of the shopping. One clerk pointed to the DVD and Blu-Ray sales as the big draw of the day.



WALMART
66 Parkhurst Rd, Chelmsford, Mass.


iPhone photo by Chris M. Walsh

Foot traffic: Store: 5, Music department: 1
Featured specials: Certain albums, like Justin Bieber’s “My Worlds Acoustic,” priced at $10.
The scene: The $10 specials were given end-cap placement in the music section. This store's music floor space is toward the back and small compared to overall floor space. Two clerks couldn’t give an opinion on how the overall foot traffic in the music department had been that day, nor could they comment on any of the day's best sellers.



-- Reporting by Ed Christman, Louis Hau, Glenn Peoples, Mitchell Peters and Chris M. Walsh.