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Dissecting why <i>Chinese Democracy</i> tanked

Once it became clear earlier this week that Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy failed to move the 800,000 units projected (it moved only 261,000 copies), studies began appearing about why the album bombed. Digital Music News contends it’s a combination of the exclusivity (Best Buy isn’t set up to move individual products, and they didn’t go all out like Wal-Mart did for AC/DC’s Black Ice which moved 784,000 copies in its first week), the lack of universal appeal for the band (they are often associated with hair metal, a long-dead musical genre), and the economy doing bad.

The economic backdrop also played into the picture.  Best Buy is now battling a weaker stream of consumers, thanks to a more selective appetite for higher-priced consumer electronics items.


Outside of the exclusives, an apples-and-oranges comparison problem emerges. 

Guns N' Roses means something very different from AC/DC, though both bands are undeniably huge.  But the hard-riffing and relatively tame off-stage opera of AC/DC seems more accessible, importantly across multiple demographics.  In terms of time and place, Guns N' Roses is largely a late-80s phenomenon with strong ties to hair metal; AC/DC offers a more timeless, bread-and-butter appeal.


The report also mentions the fact the album was stream more than 11 million times, which to me would indicate that people streamed the album and thought it wasn’t worth buying. For the full report, go here.

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I think it's odd that everyone is offering these insights to why Chinese Democracy flopped, but no one is anaylizing why Kanye was a dud as well. Heartbreak did hit #1, but with 300,000-400,000 less than expected. People just wanna keep picking on Axl. Well problably fitting, he deserves it.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/WilliamTrinity/william.jpg WilliamTrinity

Music is free now? Could that be it?

/site_media/uploads/images/users/abomunist/221969492_5987f15d18.jpg abomunist

Heartbreak makes sense because it was such a major departure for the artist sound wise, and he Love Lockdown isn't as big a hit as 'Stronger'.


Maybe because Kanye West's music is trash?


maybe its because the decade of hype for this album and the fact Axel is an ass... that its just anticlimatic at this point.... imho


What about the lack of a "big" song? The band needed one knockout song that transcended the release. They didn't have one. This was a band that was a bigger singles act than people think and I think they didn't grab people this time around.

By the way, Izzy Stradlin composed or co-wrote several of the band's biggest songs, so maybe his loss was bigger than people thought.

People will forgive excess, loutishness and even bad hair if you give 'em a catchy tune.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/tsclafan/moi image.jpg tonys

Give this album some time. Once it gets a single out, things could change.

I think the whole hair metal thing is an accurate description of it. When Contraband came out from Velvet Revolver, it only sold 256K in its first week. Axl, in fact, sold more than the rest of the guys in his first week, so maybe it's the fact that people just don't want ANY guns member as much as they used to.


Why did it tank? You wanted it to. Its too bad, its a great rock record.

john juber

Chinese Democracy is a great record, the only reason it didnt sell as much as people thought it would is because in this age of Crap and Bubble Gum music people forgot what good music sounds like. 261,000 copies sold it still a big number and who cares how it sold. Its still a great record.I cant remember any time when a singer has been put under a microscope like Axl. I guess if I want to be cool and fit in with everybody I should go stand in line for the new Britney Spears album.


Flashback to 21 years ago...sales for "Appetite For Destruction" were dismal. Minimal airplay in southern California only, MTV (when they were playing videos) didn't want them on until 3am, rock mags could have cared less about them...and there were no cell phones to download ringtones or computers to rip them off the internet either.
Pretty much the same thing today with little airplay and no video. Only now you have YouTube and Limewire or whatever to ruin sales because why pay for something that you can download or listen to for free.


Chinese Democracy is the most stolen album on the Internet right now. Yeah, file sharing hurt the sales.

It's the stealing, stupid.


One: The album is pure genius.
Two: Don't look for stupid excuses. Lots of people steal lots of music.
Three: For some reason, most idiotic critics enjoy taking a hit at Axl Rose and would love him to fail so bad...

Axl Rose is probably a complete assh**e, but he is the real musician in Guns N Roses. Go listen to Velvet Revolver's monotonous sound, then get a load at Chinese Democracy. Period.


This album is so complex that it will take a while to diffuse into the consciousness of a society now shaped by instant gratification. No Single , no Promotion no video. This album will continue to sell because it is undeniably the best album in the last decade. The songs on this album take a few listens for a person to fully appreciate them, but the music has integrity. Early sales are an indication of immediate popularity not musical quality. History will judge this album a complete success.




The reason why Chinese Democracy flop because Axl didn't go out there & pushed the CD. Axl could had been on Letterman, leno or Jimmy Kimmel to pushed the album. He could've also did a documentary or a bio on MTV & VH-1. So it's all Axl's fault hands down. While Best Buy & Geffen are doing their part to promote the record, Axl is just sitting on his ass and expected people to buy the CD with the snap of his fingers. You say I'm wrong. Let look at another example. Last year Britney Spears released "Blackout". The record label, MTV/VH-1 & radio did their part to pushed the album but Britney was no where to be found. The album tanked. A year later, Britney's new CD "Circus" is No.1 & sold over 500,000 copies the first week because she worked her ass off to get back on top. O.K., Britney may not be an example but AC/DC is another example of how they worked hard to get to No.1 with over 800,000 copies of "Black Ice" sold the first week. It's been six years since AC/DC released any new material or done a world toured but they worked hard to let people know they're back, better than ever. Everyone worked together to get to helped "Black Ice" to become the multi-million seller that it is now. The group, Wal-Mart, radio & don't forget the faithful fans.
So Axl need to take a long hard look at himself and see why "Chinese Democracy" didn't do well. Now there's three things Axl need to do.
1. Dust himself up, get off of his ass & push the record.
2. Go on tour or do some concert festivals(and also please be on time on the stage).
3. Get the original members together.
4. Or just quit and hide under a rock.

To Williamtrinity. Kanye new CD isn't that big but it's selling. Plus the label & even Kanye even expected low sales expectations of this CD because it way different the previous three. He knows not too many people will get it but he's out there pushing the record because he's proud of this CD and want people to know it. Remember Kanye does have a big ego. He'll be on SNL this weekend. Will Axl perform on SNL soon?


After 14(?) years in the making, all you get is a bunch of songs that belong in the 90's.

Too little too late which is a shame, I was hoping for a good album, but it turns it's just an average outing.

Hopefully he can get his sh*t together and make another album soon and get on with the music.


True , the album if no appetite but The Album is Way BETTER than 99% of the sh*t they call music these days ...

People Just Love to criticize Axl , IMHO the music of this album is very good .. A definite buy

Ben Harmison

Give it is damn good. The biggest thing it is up against is it may be too good.


This album is pretty damn good, as people point out, however the sales is not what is expected because of the promotion, or the lack of it rather. Good music don't always equal good sales. End of story.

Come on

I am 38 years old. I remember when gnr first came on the scene..they rocked. Forget the bull$&@" drama and axl rose as an "ass$&@"". Chinese democracy is musical genious. Flop????...unless you live under a rock...only fools buy's free kids....reality is this album is in more hands than anyone knows....I WANT MORE gnr!!!


it could be the fact that its on GNR in name , its not the band its not KISS , axl cant just hire and fire people. his ego believes he is GNR , WRONG ! its the line up of use your illusion (the most successful !

old gnr fan

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