Strong global demand for Beatles reissues

Set to dominate worldwide charts

The Beatles are set to dominate the charts at home in Britain and globally, based on strong first-day sales of the remastered CDs -- although supplies of the box sets may be an issue in some territories.

"The Beatles Rock Band" game for various platforms does not appear to be doing such good business yet. The Nintendo Wii edition is currently at No. 12 on's videogame category bestsellers.

But Beatlemania 2.0 is a genuine phenomenon based on CD and box set sales on the first day. In the U.K., the Official Charts Co said that the Beatles will dominate the albums chart on Sunday based on pre-orders and one-day sales. The band is set to take up to five top 20 places and 15 in the top 75.

"This massive project has come together so well through a great partnership between Apple Corps and EMI, and several years of hard work by both," said Elio Leoni-Sceti, CEO of EMI Music, in a statement. "The response from consumers from all around the world has been fantastic and simply underlines the pure quality and timelessness of the Beatles' music and a very well thought out global marketing campaign. But this is only the beginning. We're looking forward to building on what has been a really great start."

The biggest selling titles in the U.K. among their reissues are "Abbey Road" and "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," while the stereo box set is on course to make the top 20 after selling almost 6,000 yesterday.

"One massive by-product of the re-issued albums and the renewed interest in the Beatles' music is that they are likely to dominate the album charts over the next few weeks, and set a new record in the process for the most albums in the charts by the same artist at any one time," says a spokesman for U.K. entertainment retailer HMV.

In Germany, many consumers found that record stores had already sold out of the Beatles box sets on 09/09/09. Retailers now hope that, following wide media coverage, the strong interest continues up until the Christmas trading season.

The Beatles box set is the No. 1 top seller at the two main German Internet retailers, Amazon and JPC. It is selling for €183.99 ($268) at Amazon and €189.99 ($276.50) at JPC.

Some record dealers estimate that EMI sold up to 4,000 stereo box sets in Germany yesterday. EMI Germany refused to comment.

"We had 50 box sets in stock, all of which we sold in the course of the morning," says Frank Schickel, head of the music department at the Cologne branch of the retailer Saturn. "The first customers who came into the store this morning enquired about the Beatles box set. If EMI were able to deliver more, we would be able to sell far more of these box sets."

Sales of the Beatles reissues are also strong at Saturn. "'Abbey Road' performed particularly well, with 55 units sold on Sept. 9," says Shickel of the response in Cologne. "I assume that interest in the box set will weaken as experience suggests that it is always the hardcore fans who are the first to enter the stores to secure their copy."

Schickel believes that sales of individual Beatles albums will remain strong in the longer term. "The box set and individual Beatles albums should also figure prominently in Christmas business," he adds. "Saturn noted strong interest in the Beatles all over Germany." Consumer electronics store Saturn has 129 retail outlets in Germany.

Purchaser Jorg Jager at Pressezentrum in Lubeck adds that the Beatles box set has sold out and has been re-ordered. He received only two units from EMI. "We had many enquires but did not obtain sufficient deliveries," he reports. Sales of the individual Beatles albums have not yet shown an increase at Pressezentrum, although Jager suspects that this will soon change. He sees the Beatles box set and albums as a long-term story and expects many enquiries in the lead-up to Christmas in particular.

Record chain store WOM in Cologne reports that the Beatles box set had sold out but declined to quote any figures. "We could have sold more box sets and have already re-ordered," says purchaser Diana Szuhan.

Josef Pohl, head of department of consumer electronics chain Media Markt in Ingolstadt, near Munich, criticizes the insufficient deliveries. "We were already sold out at 10 in the morning," he says. "Even the mono box set is sold out. The hardcore fans want the box set and nothing else."

Berlin's largest retailer of recorded music Kulturkaufhaus Dussmann also reports that it has sold out and has only a few copies left of the mono set box. "There has been strong interest and we do not expect to receive any new deliveries of the stereo box set before Sept. 25," says purchaser Patrick Lalk.

At Hanse-CD in Hamburg's Hanseviertel shopping arcade, regular customers had pre-ordered the stereo box set prior to release. "Beatles fans went to great lengths to secure their copy of the box set," says purchaser Karin Busche. "I suspect that EMI did not expect such a boom in Germany and is now having trouble keeping up with demand," she thinks.

In France, the stereo box set is at No. 1 on the Amazon France sales chart, with "Abbey Road" at No. 6 and the mono box set at No. 7.

Francois Nuyts, entertainment director of Amazon France, says success of the albums and box sets is beyond their expectations. And he expects videogame sales to rise as a result of the positive magazine coverage. "The Beatles Rock Band" for PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii are currently in the lower half of Amazon's top 20 videogame products.

The release of the digitally remastered albums and game has reignited a Beatles frenzy in Japan. Michiko Setsu, a spokeswoman for entertainment retailer HMV Japan says that over 10,000 of the new box sets were pre-ordered and fans have been streaming to HMV to buy the individual reissued albums. "Japan has been hit hard by Beatlemania, again," says Setsu.

In the HMV flagship store in Shibuya, there was strong demand for the new box sets, which dominated the HMV comprehensive sales chart, with the import grabbing the No. 1 position and the domestic release of the same coming in at No. 3. The 14-CD boxed sets retail for 30,125 yen ($328) and 35,800 yen ($390) respectively.

In Australia, next to the box sets, "The White Album" is the most popular album in Australia today closely followed by "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Abbey Road," says EMI Music Australia.

The unprecedented demand has seen freight delays which have affected some Victorian retail outlets. EMI sent out an email Tuesday apologizing to its partners affected by "these unexpected delivery issues" and assured them stock will be delivered Wednesday.

"The momentum has been building over the past month and the dedicated fan base came in and cleaned us out of both box sets," says Geoffrey Bonouvrie, managing director of Sydney's Mall Music and chairman of the Australian Music Retailer's Assn. "We tripled our initial order and it still wasn't enough. We sold out within two hours. We now have a backlog of orders from customers."

The digitally remastered stereo box set was the most popular, he adds. "However we did note that the hard core collectors went for the mono box set," says Bonouvrie. "The Beatles must be the only band that can generate such passion in a reissue, the sound is amazing when you compare it to the original recordings. EMI have certainly set the bench mark with this."

There was also brisk business for the box sets at Best Buy and Costco in Toronto yesterday.

Ken Kirkwood, director of purchasing at HMV, the largest entertainment retailer in Canada, says that sales exceeded the company's expectations in Canada. "It was Beatlemania in every HMV store yesterday as they dominated every HMV Chart throughout the day, from books, to videogames, to t-shirts and of course our CD charts," he says. "It was quite amazing to see our top 15 selling CDs being all from the Beatles."

Aymeric Pichevin and Robert Thompson contributed to this report.