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Estelle joins NBC in returning to iTunes

September 10, 2008 |  5:47 pm

Estellechris_jacksongetty_images Estelle's latest album, "Shine," was back on iTunes this week after a two-week hiatus, bringing a swift end to the protest/experiment by her record company, Warner Music Group. (Thanks for the tip, DK!) The label wanted to stop selling her hit single, "American Boy," in the hope that it would boost sales of the (more profitalicious) full-length "Shine." But unlike and other online outlets, iTunes wouldn't play along, so Warner asked Apple to remove the entire album from its digital shelves.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, sales of "Shine" continued at a steady pace of about 5,000 copies per week, even without the help of America's most popular music store. The implication is that yanking the record from iTunes didn't hurt Estelle, but it seemed to help Apple's brick-and-mortar competitors. Hmmm. Anyway, here are the album's cumulative sales numbers from SoundScan for the last four weeks (two with, two without iTunes sales), rounded to the nearest thousand:

  • Week ending Sept. 7: 110,000 (including 26,000 digital downloads)
  • Week ending Aug. 31: 104,000 (25,000 digital)
  • Week ending Aug. 24: 100,000 (25,000 digital)
  • Week ending Aug. 17: 95,000 (24,000 digital)

By the way, Estelle had been selling 300 to 400 copies of "American Boy" per week in August, but those sales effectively dropped to zero the weeks of Aug. 31 and Sept. 7. It's hard to draw any definitive conclusions from the experiment, given how brief it was, but the album sales numbers certainly don't support the argument that pulling the record from iTunes would be ruinous to a new artist like Estelle.

-- Jon Healey

Healey writes editorials for The Times' Opinion Manufacturing Division.