One of the longest hold-outs from iTunes, AC/DC, finally reached the digital retailer last week.
The iconic rock band’s entire catalog, along with two iTunes-exclusive box sets, became available on Monday, Nov. 19. In the week ending Nov. 25, the band’s 25 albums moved 48,000 downloads while its songs shifted 696,000 in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Its biggest selling album, digitally speaking, was the band’s classic “Back in Black,” with 15,000 — more than 10,000 ahead of its second-biggest title, “Highway to Hell” (a little under 5,000). Coming in third for the week was the brand new “Live at River Plate” (4,000), followed by “High Voltage” (just under 3,000) and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” (2,000).
In terms of song downloads, “Thunderstruck” led the way for AC/DC last week, selling 85,000. It debuts at No. 16 on Digital Songs and No. 1 on Hard Rock Digital Songs. On the latter tally — viewable on billboard.biz — the entire top 12 positions are owned by AC/DC tunes. The band’s second biggest seller last week was “Back in Black” (68,000), followed by “You Shook Me All Night Long” (64,000), “Highway To Hell” (50,000) and “TNT” (40,000). There were 14 AC/DC songs that sold at least 10,000 last week.
Unlike the Beatles’ arrival on iTunes in 2010 — which was heralded with great fanfare and a TV marketing campaign — AC/DC’s entrance to iTunes seemingly dropped out of the sky without hype. Even though there weren’t TV commercials touting the iTunes debut (as there was for the Beatles), one could hear the song “Back in Black” in at least two different TV commercials over the busy Thanksgiving shopping weekend. It soundtracked spots for the video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” as well as Black Friday ads for Walmart.
To compare, when the Beatles catalog arrived, it sold a combined 119,000 digital albums and 1.42 million songs.
Of course, comparing anything to the Beatles is difficult, since the band exists in its own realm of superstardom. That week, the Fab Four’s best selling digital album was “Abbey Road” (16,000), followed by its stereo box set with 13,000. The Beatles’ biggest song download that week was “Let It Be” (63,000), followed by “Here Comes the Sun” (55,000), “In My Life” (45,000), “Hey Jude” (38,000) and “Come Together” (38,000).
For a perhaps better side-by-side comparison, we turn to another former hard-rock holdout from iTunes: Led Zeppelin. The week its music bowed in the store way back in 2007, its combined albums moved 47,000 (with 33,000 of that for its then-new “Mothership” greatest hits album) while its songs shifted 300,000.
Following “Mothership,” Led Zep’s second-largest selling album that week was the iTunes-exclusive box “The Complete Led Zeppelin,” with 5,000 sold. In third place was “Led Zeppelin IV” with 2,000.
As for Led Zeppelin’s biggest song downloads that week, unsurprisingly, the iconic “Stairway to Heaven” was its best-seller, with 31,000. At Nos. 2-5 were “Kashmir” (21,000), “Over the Hills and Far Away” (16,000), “Black Dog” (15,000) and “Immigrant Song” (14,000).
Led Zeppelin bowed in the iTunes Store almost exactly five years ago, when download sales weren’t as potent as they are today. Thus, seeing AC/DC start with a much larger volume isn’t that shocking. (Year to date download album sales stand at 103.46 million — 39% of the overall market. For the full year of 2007, downloads amounted to 50 million — or 10% of the market.)