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Green Day ignites music retail

May 20, 2009 |  9:13 pm

A shaky transition from CDs to digital downloads casts a shadow on the start of music retailers' big summer season.

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Leave it to brash punk-pop icons Green Day to inject some much-needed life into the U.S. pop charts. The band's latest concept-driven collection for Reprise/Warner Bros., "21st Century Breakdown," which was released off-cycle on a Friday rather than the typical Tuesday, sold 214,000 copies through Sunday, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The figure is close to what the group's previous album, 2004's critically acclaimed "American Idiot," sold in a full week -- that Grammy-Award winning effort opened with 267,000 copies and has sold 5.9 million to date.

Green Day's album marks the unofficial start of what will be a busier summer season for music retailers -- with new material from major artists such as the Black Eyed Peas, Dave Matthews Band, the Jonas Brothers and Lil Wayne on tap -- and it can't come fast enough, as far as beleaguered merchants are concerned.

Total sales for the first few months of 2009 stand at 136.4 million, down from 157.4 million a year ago and 177.1 million in 2007. In perhaps even more distressing news, although digital album sales have grown, the pace has slowed. Through the sales week that ended Sunday, SoundScan reports, consumers purchased 28.9 million digital albums in 2009.

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