How the Beatles iTunes Debut Really Stacks Up

There's no doubt, The Beatles have some serious staying power: their music, made forty years before the advent of the iPod, is a huge hit on iTunes. In their first week on the site The Beatles sold more than 450,000 albums and two million individual songs. This squashed concerns that the Fab Four were coming to iTunes too late—that people already owned or had pirated the music.

The Beatles
John Pratt | Keystone | Getty Images
The Beatles

But how do those numbers really stack up?

It generates over $8.5 million ion revenue for iTunes-- that's based on $12.99 for an album download and $1.29 for an individual song. Since several of the albums cost more, including the $149.99 box set, that means iTunes has likely raked in north of $9 million in the past week.

So how does that compare to other artists?

It's great compared to another iTunes hold out — Led Zeppelin. When Zeppelin finally started selling on iTunes in 2007 only sold 300,000 digital tracks and 13,000 digital albums, according to Billboard.

But none of the Beatles' single songs can stand up to today's megastars like Katy Perry and Rhianna. When a big star releases a new album they usually sell between 10,000 and 300,000 digital singles in the first week. Yes, The Beatles sold 2 million singles in its first week, but that's from *all* its albums.

The big question now: will The Beatles release on iTunes drive sales of traditional CD sales? Amazon just slashed the prices on its Beatles music to less than the digital downloads cost — CDs are $7.99, and the box set is $129.99. We'll be watching to see if the Beatles scale the best-seller charts on Amazon or iTunes this Cyber Monday.

Questions? Comments?