Take That's 'Circus' In High Demand

Take That, Leona Still Strong On U.K. Charts
Former boy band Take That is delivering some very grown-up sales figures. The act-a U.K. sales phenomenon since original members Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Jason Orange and Howard Donald re-formed in 2005-posted the biggest first-day U.K. album sale of the year Dec. 1.

Its Polydor album "The Circus" sold 133,000 copies, according to the Official Charts Co. (OCC), beating Coldplay's "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends" (Parlophone) by 8,000 copies. That sale was delivered despite the album being unavailable at many key U.K. retailers after wholesaler EUK went into administration, which is similar to U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

"The business is in transition," says Universal Music Group International executive VP Max Hole, also president of Universal Music Asia Pacific. "But if you've got great music and great artists, you can still do quite remarkable numbers."

The numbers are the latest landmark achievement for the band, which smashed U.K. box-office records in October when 600,000 tickets for its 2009 stadium tour sold out in less than five hours. The group subsequently added more dates and has now sold a total of 700,000 tickets for its 14 stadium shows, kicking off June 5 at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland. The first single from the album, "Greatest Day," debuted at No. 1 on the OCC's Nov. 30 chart with sales of 70,300. It's the group's 11th No. 1, a tally topped only by the Beatles (17) and Irish boy band Westlife (14).

Universal Music U.K. chairman/CEO David Joseph signed the re-formed act after working with its original incarnation at RCA (featuring Robbie Williams) before the group split in 1996. He attributes Take That's success to its desire not to just rehash its old sound.

On its previous album "Beautiful World," "the whole approach was to make them sound like they would if the band had been making records for the previous 10 years," he says. "Now they can afford to take a creative risk knowing that they look and sound like a supergroup."

"Beautiful World" went on to outsell all of the band's previous albums in the United Kingdom, providing 2.5 million of a career sales total of 6.1 million units. However, Hole notes its "reasonably modest" performance in the rest of the world. The album hit No. 1 in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and went top 10 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

"The Circus" was released worldwide Dec. 1, except in France where it hits stores in February and the United States. Only the original lineup's swan song album, "Nobody Else" (Arista), received an official U.S. release, with sales of 287,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"We have a lot of interest in the music from our American partners," says Joseph, who adds that a decision on a U.S. release will be made "in the next few months."