Is Best Buy Already Over Promoting “Chinese Democracy”?

While flipping through the Best Buy circular that came with this weekend’s New York Times, I noticed something kind of odd: There wasn’t one mention of Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy anywhere within, despite the album still being exclusively available at the big blue retailer. All the premium music-selling real estate—the album-cover shots in proffered iPods, etc.—was instead given over mostly to Britney Spears’ Circus, which I can understand on one level (a pretty girl being like a melody and all), but which doesn’t make sense given that the Guns deal was supposedly a big-money transaction for Best Buy, and that the endlessly speculated-about album reportedly didn’t break the half-million mark as far as its first-week sales went.

A visit to a Best Buy (store No. 467 in Levittown, N.Y.) made me even more curious. Copies of Chinese Democracy were plentiful (and the vinyl was $19.99?!), but there were no displays trumpeting the album’s Best Buy exclusivity, just some endcap placement on a “best-selling albums” display where it shared space with this week’s probable No. 1, 808s And Heartbreak. (The music section at this store was pretty sad overall; it was shoved in a corner of the front section behind the bigger-ticket items like cameras, and there were printouts taped to each endcap noting which letters were in which rows. I suspect that when satellite radio finally tanks, it’ll be further relegated to the space right near the restrooms. Hey, maybe by then, music floor space will only be the size of one stall!)

So what’s the deal? Did Best Buy overshoot? Were the suits thinking that the chain would quickly sell out of the inventory it had during the holiday shopping week, and that the free publicity engendered by the album—despite Axl Rose doing pretty much no press for it—would supersede any boost from a newspaper insert or in-store display? Or does everyone want to just wash their hands of this thing and move on to the big-ticket prize—the reunion of the “Axl’s arm tattoo” lineup? And when will the vinyl be marked down to a price where it’s actually worth buying. So many questions.

  • MickFNS

    A couple of weeks ago, Best Buy had a Sunday circular with Rose’s image all over it. They photo-shopped him onto flat screen TVs and generally threw his image around like crazy. It was just plain weird to see him with the goatee and braids…

  • Anonymous

    I still question exactly how exclusive the Best Buy deal was. Sure they had it available on a Sunday but I saw it for sale at Virgin Megastore on the following Tuesday. Was it Best Buy exclusive for two days?

  • Anonymous

    It’s still supposed to be Best Buy-exclusive? I could have sworn I saw it for sale in the Virgin Megastore at Union Square last week.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know what you’re complaining about with that vinyl price, it seems pretty reasonable to me. This isn’t a Drag City release; it seems pretty obvious that the vinyl is going to be market as a specialty item for those crazy collectors. Plus Best Buy doesn’t need to compete with the indies on this one so they won’t have to mark it below price. Finally, it is a double vinyl right? I think they could have gone up to 25 without too much screaming. How much are Best Buy’s other LPs? I can’t imagine they’re reasonably priced.

  • Captain Wrong

    Yeah, I’m not too tweaked on the $20 vinyl. Double disc and comes with a download. I *might* break down on it, if I don’t end up with it as an Xmas present.

    To answer the big question though, it’s an overshoot. There was that debut week circular, but I’m guessing the sales didn’t add up to another week’s worth of Photoshopping Rose on all the flat screens. Can’t say I’m shocked.

    Problem is, I think aside from the diehard fans and the Internet echo chamber, most people just don’t care either way about this album. Sometimes I think the suits, who all too long ignored Internet chatter, are now going too far in the opposite direction and mistaking a small, but vocal, group on the Internet for the population at large.

    And, as has been noted, this is a pretty loose exclusive. Like AC/DC’s Black Ice, this album isn’t hard to find at your local indie shop, assuming you still have one.

  • Anonymous

    @Captain Wrong: Also, with the lack of interviews, usual hype, sales are going to nosedive.

  • Maura Johnston

    @Captain Wrong: “Sometimes I think the suits, who all too long ignored Internet chatter, are now going too far in the opposite direction and mistaking a small, but vocal, group on the Internet for the population at large.”

    i totally agree with this. “chinese democracy” — the “snakes on a plane” of 2008?

  • Chris N.

    I have had it with these motherfuckin’ Chinese and their motherfuckin’ democracy!

  • Christian John

    What Virgin does with those exclusive type of albums (Eagles, for example) is buy them “one-way”, since they’re not coming from a traditional distributor. All this means really is they can’t return unsold product to the distributor/manufacturer.

  • How do I say this … THROWDINI!

    @Maura Johnston: Is “Chinese Democracy” the new “Snakes on a Plane?”

    That’s a pretty good analogy, but I say no, because I actually enjoyed Snakes on a Plane. Chinese Democracy, not so much. Or to be generous, at least not yet.

  • The Velvet Blog

    Levittown, Maura? You live Nassau?

  • The Velvet Blog

    Er, “in Nassau.”

  • Maura Johnston

    @The Velvet Blog: my family’s from hicksville. i was there this weekend.

  • Captain Wrong

    @Chris N.: I lollered.

  • MrStarhead

    Those ad circulars have to be put together weeks and weeks in advance. That’s why the Circuit City one was advertising the new Fall Out Boy album for $9.99 at the beginning of November.

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