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.