U2, unsurprisingly, has scored its seventh No. 1 album in the U.S., moving 484,000 copies last week of No Line on the Horizon. As many have pointed out, though, this is a far cry from the first-week sales total for the group’s last LP How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, which sold 840,000 copies Thanksgiving week 2004.
Whatever you might think about the qualitative differences between the two albums, we think the best explanation for the drop is the simplest one: people aren’t buying as many CDs as they were four years ago. Indeed, this week alone, album sales were down 8.6% compared to the same week last year. And so far in 2009, sales are down 11.5% from what they were at this point in 2008.
Also How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb benefitted from Thanksgiving sales.
But another interesting stat about U2’s sales is that during the two week period prior to the album’s release, more than 445,000 people downloaded it illegally from BitTorrent. A chart of the illegal downloads, re-posted below, shows a surge after Universal Music Australia screwed up and accidentally made the album available a few days early. Who knows if all of those people actually would have bought the album if it hadn’t been available ahead of time? But if they had, it would have produced a nicer sales total for Bono and the boys.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.