Bad 25: Sales & Chart Performance (Week 1)

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Most of the weekly sales reports and music charts from around the world are in, and fans, Sony and the Estate are now able to see how Bad 25 has performed in different markets across the globe.

I’ll start in the UK – one of the first charts to be released this past week. Bad 25 landed at a very impressive #6 on the UK album charts, outselling Bob Dylan and Carly Rae Jepsen’s releases.

Jackson’s “Live at Wembley” performance from 1988’s Bad Tour, released within the Bad 25 set, was also released as a stand-alone DVD around the world, and charted in it’s own right.

Surprisingly (but in many ways, not really) “Live at Wembley” failed to top the UK DVD chart – coming in at #2 behind Andre Rieu’s “Live in Maastricht 5”. Rieu’s DVD had already been on the market for 15 weeks when the VHS quality “Live at Wembley” hit stores. However, in it’s 16th week “Live in Maastricht 5” still raked in bigger numbers than Jackson’s 1988 blockbuster concert performance, which more than 500,000 Brits packed Wembley stadium to see all those years ago.

Michael Jackson’s Estate has announced that the “Live at Wembley” DVD went straight to #1 in the U.S, but I can’t find a link to support this. My emails to Billboard have also gone unanswered regarding the issue, so I guess if you want to believe this is the case you’ll have to take the Estate’s word for it, which at the best of times isn’t all that reliable. I’ll update you if I do get a response from Billboard confirming the information.

The position of Bad 25 on the U.S album charts is just as confusing as that of the mysterious DVD chart. Bad 25 appears on the Billboard 200 twice, once at #23 and once at #46, with identical titles. It also appears at #10 on hitsdailydouble.com’s chart of album sales in the U.S, which is support by sales figures. Bad 25 is listed as having sold 29,000 copies during the week.

What’s not confusing is that Bad 25 has rocketed to #1 on the Billboard Catalog album charts in the U.S (as well as in many other countries), where it’ll likely spend many consecutive weeks.

The Estate has also announced Bad 25 chart positions including Japan (#2), Spain (#2), Germany (#4), France, Hong Kong and Korea (#5), Holland (#6), Austria and Belgium (#10).

Since the Estate’s announcement regarding chart positions the Australian charts have been updated.

Bad 25 ultimately landed at #14 on the Australian album chart, four spots outside the top 10 where Sony Music (Au) had expected it to finish at week’s end. The “Live at Wembley” DVD however came in right on target, debuting at #2 on the Aussie Music DVD chart, just behind Reece Mastin’s “Behind Closed Doors” DVD.

The most important chart when analysing the worldwide appeal of Michael Jackson is the United World Chart, presented weekly by mediatraffic.de, showcasing overall global album and single sales.

This week Bad 25 has debuted at #4, equal on 123,000 copies sold with Carly Rae Jepsen’s album “Kiss”.

Bad 25’s sales of 123,000 are far more impressive than the numbers indicate. Many of those sales were of a boxed sets containing 3 CDs and a DVD, with the remainder being the standard double-disc set. If an album contains multiple discs,  for example 3 CDs, that counts as 3 “units”. On this occasion, the Estate and Sony COULD claim that the Bad 25 set has sold anywhere between 300,000 and 370,000 units – depending on on the ratio of box set to double-disc album sales.

Sales of 300,000+ units would make Bad 25 a clear #2 on the United World Chart, with only Pink ahead of Jackson this week. Not bad for a 25 year old album!

One thing worth noting about the sales of Bad 25 from all around the world is Sony and The Estate’s inability to bring Michael Jackson into the digital age by utilize retail platforms such as iTunes to their full potential, instead relying heavily on physical sales for chart success.

In most countries the Bad 25 set appeared at the bottom end of the iTunes charts, performing terribly overall in the digital market. Early in the week I saw Bad 25 languishing at #199 on the U.S iTunes, before quickly vanishing from the chart. In Australia and the UK it was also largely unsighted on the iTunes chart, spending some time in the #70-80 range in both regions before swiftly dropping out of the top 200.

The Estate and Sony have the opportunity to give fans that little bit extra – something “special” or “exclusive” on iTunes, to encourage us to purchase their products digitally.  But, they don’t.

For example, the 3rd disc of the Bad 25 box set is a “live album” which is heavily edited down from approximately 2 hours to fit the 77 minute time restriction of a CD. This is completely understandable in the case of the physical version, but in the digital world there are no time restrictions. It doesn’t seem to unreasonable (in my opinion) to ask that they release the complete 2 hours of audio of Jackson’s live performance on the iTunes version of Bad 25, does it? Another incentive for fans to go digital could be to give us an additional unreleased demo, such as “Hot Fever” (the demo of The Way You Make Me Feel) for example, exclusive to iTunes customers.

Considering the cost to buy on iTunes is almost the same as the cost of the physical box set, and considering the iTunes version does not include the DVD content, something needs to be done to make the digital format more desirable.

It will be interesting to see how long Bad 25 stays on the charts around the world. I’ll do my best to provide updates on it’s performance over the coming weeks and months as we approach the Thanksgiving broadcast of Spike Lee’s documentary, which is sure to launch Bad 25 back into the charts come November.

(Article updated on Sunday 30/09/12)

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