AC/DC Goes To Wal-Mart

AC/DC is the latest band to sign up to sell its upcoming album exclusively at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations in the U.S. Black Ice, its first album of all new material in eight years, goes up for grabs October 20.

The exclusive Wal-Mart deal certainly worked out for Eagles whose Long Road Out of Eden was the third-best selling album of 2007, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Journey didn’t do half bad either with Revelation hitting a No. 5 debut the week of June 8, selling just shy of 105,000 units.

What sets AC/DC’s deal apart from that of the other classic rockers is that the band is under contract to a major record label, Sony BMG’s Columbia Records. The label set up the Wal-Mart deal and will also benefit from sales there.

AC/DC’s 16th studio release will be priced at $11.88 and Wal-Mart is expected to heavily promote the album with prominent displays of CDs in stores and heavy advertising. The retail giant also promises to team with Columbia to launch “multiple activities for fans … that will bring fans closer to one of history’s greatest rock bands.”

In the midst of prepping AC/DC’s album for potential blockbuster sales with new product features and promotions, Wal-Mart is also looking into stocking fewer CDs, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The paper noted this would speed along the decline of CD sales as customers continue to switch to digital music and said “it is unclear what the upshot” of the changes in Wal-Mart’s approach to selling music will be.

Peter Kafka, with The Silicon Alley Insider, wrote that in a worst-case scenario which he thinks is likely – of retailers stocking less music, they will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. With less stock to choose from, consumers will end up buying even less. This in turn will force retailers to cut back their music department even more and so on and so on.

Wal-Mart doesn’t sound too worried.

“While inflation and higher fuel costs are pressuring suppliers, retailers and customers worldwide, we’re confident that Wal-Mart is well positioned,” chief executive H. Lee Scott Jr. said in a statement.

While other retailers might not be thrilled with the exclusive Wal-Mart deals, Apple’s iTunes store probably won’t be offended because AC/DC has never made its music available there.