Billboard has released the sales figures from the first week of the Beatles in the iTunes store: more than 450,000 albums and 2 million individual songs have been sold via iTunes worldwide.
The Beatles were one of the best-known holdouts whose music was not available on iTunes, and while the response from consumers may or may not be what it takes to convince AC/DC (and a few others) to make their music available, the sales figures were still eagerly watched. By comparison, sales of the Beatles' music far exceeded those of Led Zeppelin when its catalog came to iTunes in 2007. Led Zeppelin sold about 300,000 individual tracks in its first week in the iTunes store.
Billboard notes Apple's aggressive marketing campaign that accompanied the release - prominent placement on the iTunes homepage as well as TV advertising that ran during the American Music Awards and Sunday Night Football. Also pushing up sales figures for the Beatles catalog beyond what was downloaded via iTunes was the discounting offered by Amazon for the physical versions of the albums.
Finding the Beatles via Social Media, Not Search
Experian Hitwise has also analyzed these early figures from the Beatles digital launch and has found that social media - not search - drove much of the online traffic surrounding Apple's announcement. Hitwise drew its figures just from Internet traffic in the U.K., and based on that, found that on Nov.16, over a quarter of all Apple traffic came from social network sites, as compared to just 16.59% for the two days prior.
More staggering, one out of every 200 visits that left Facebook that day went directly to Apple. This moved Apple up on the list of sites to which Facebook sends traffic from number 86 to number 20 in terms of popularity. As Hitwise notes, "With Facebook receiving in excess of 40 million visits from U.K. Internet users every day, that equates to a lot of traffic for Apple from the social networking site."
But when it comes to searching for Beatles music, Hitwise found that Apple did not rank so well. Although it paid for 67% of its traffic for those searching for the term "the Beatles," Apple was only the ninth biggest recipient of this traffic.
Search Engine Land had Hitwise run the figures for U.S. traffic, and while social networks did see a spike, the traffic wasn't enough to surpass search. Before people ring the death knell for search, it is worth noting that search was up - 30% in the U.K. and 19% in the U.S. - for the Fab Four.