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The Eagles' lofty tally is a testament to the forward-looking deal made by Irving Azoff, as he sold 3 million albums directly to Wal-Mart, with its 3,484 stores and 484 Sam's Club locations.
I.B. BAD ON SALES TRENDS
Better Late Than Never: Q4 Picks Up Steam
With Jay-Z, Garth, Chris Brown, Eagles, Etc.
It took a month, but the fourth quarter might finally be underway, with last week's one-two punch of the Eagles and Britney Spears followed by a trifecta of 300k-plus debuts, thanks to the star power of Jay-Z (433k), Garth Brooks (355k) and Chris Brown (302k), with the Eagles passing the 1 million plateau in week two.

These late-breaking hits have given a much-needed boost to what has turned out to be another dramatically disappointing year. The Eagles' lofty tally is a testament to the forward-looking deal made by Irving Azoff, as he sold 3 million albums directly to Wal-Mart, with its 3,484 stores and 484 Sam's Club locations. It's a sign of the times that three-quarters of Brooks' total was generated by Wal-Mart as well.

The 711k Eagles LPs sold last week, and the 2.5 million units some prognosticators expect it to sell by year's end, will give the industry as a whole a boost at the moment it's most needed. (In a side note, the Eagles' sales performance is an anomaly in the sense that it's occurring without benefit of iTunes).

As for Billboard's decision to count Long Road Out of Eden on the album chart, it's worth noting that all four major distribution heads felt that the Eagles should be included on the chart, in large part out of a realization that the Big Four will increasingly turn to nontraditional distribution strategies as they search for new solutions.

Nearing the end of year six in the industry-wide depression, the rules are clearly changing, as selling music differently becomes a growing trend. The latest round of nontraditional releases includes the much-ballyhooed Radiohead paradigm-busting digital self-release, James Taylor's first album under his new deal with Hear Music/Concord, and Capitol Music Group's Spice Girls greatest hits album, a two-month CD exclusive with Victoria's Secret's 1,100 stores, powered by the momentum of a sold-out reunion tour. Remember, though, that latter total will not be made public by the retailer as a result of a prior agreement with the label group. Expect many more similar outside-the-box release strategies in '08.

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