Guns N’ Roses Sales Droop

While fans might have been waiting for the release of Guns N’ RosesChinese Democracy for more than a decade, it looks like they’re willing to wait a bit longer as the album sold only 318,000 copies in its first two weeks in stores, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The album entered the charts in third place after being released Nov. 23, then sales fell 78 percent in the second week to 57,000 copies, according to Nielsen.

Best Buy might be regretting its decision to pay millions up front in exchange for the exclusive rights to sell the CD in the U.S. The company bought 1.3 million copies of the album with the promise not to return any of the copies.

Before the album was released, Best Buy’s senior entertainment officer, Gary Arnold, predicted Chinese Democracy would be the rock record of the year.

Guns N’ Roses manager Irving Azoff told the Wall Street Journal the album would ultimately do well, saying “The race is far from over.”

If it’s a race with AC/DC, the latter may be way ahead with its exclusive Walmart deal. AC/DC’s October release of Black Ice debuted at No. 1 and sold more than 1 million copies in its first two weeks in stores, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The album has sold about 1.6 million copies in the U.S., with about 6 million copies shipped worldwide, according to the WSJ.

Best Buy promoted Chinese Democracy with a marketing campaign centered on the album but Walmart took it a step further by stocking up on AC/DC T-shirts and an exclusive AC/DC version of the “Rock Band” videogame.

“Almost every avenue to connect with youth culture in America, we took,” Steve Barnett, Chairman of Columbia Records, which released Black Ice, told the WSJ.

While Columbia took the first steps to marketing the album before AC/DC was even in the studio, the Australian rockers kept busy granting dozens of magazine interviews and hit the road for a world tour.

Meanwhile, the paper noted that, according to people familiar with the matter, Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose declined interviews with Rolling Stone and the New York Times. He also didn’t finish a music video in time to promote Chinese Democracy, which could have come in handy both for Interscope promoting the release online and on TV and for Best Buy promoting the album in stores.

Axl Rose did find the time to answer fans’ questions about the ownership of the Guns N’ Roses name on the online forum,

In a six-page, single-spaced open letter to fans, Axl Rose covers topics such as the rumor that he had once refused to take the stage unless the rest of the band signed the rights to the name over to him (“utter crap”), the possibility of an original GNR lineup reunion at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and claims that Velvet Revolver stole a GNR song.