Eagles soar with ‘Long Road’

Album sells more than 700,000 copies

Billboard magazine altered one of its policies regarding the reporting of Nielsen SoundScan data on Tuesday afternoon, paving the way to make the Eagles’ “Long Road Out of Eden” the No. 1 album in the country.

The first Eagles studio album in 28 years, which has sold 711,000 copies since its release Oct. 30, was not eligible for the SoundScan top 200 chart due to its availability only at a single retailer, Wal-Mart, and its associated outlets. The top 200, tabulated by SoundScan and published in Billboard, only counts albums that are widely available.

SoundScan and Billboard, both of which are owned by Nielsen Co., will now allow exclusive album titles that are only available through one retailer to appear on the published charts, effective this week. SoundScan also issues a Comprehensive Chart that includes sales figures of exclusive releases reported by retailers.

Britney Spears’ “Blackout” (Jive), which would have been No. 1 prior to the policy change, will open at No. 2 with first-week sales of 290,000 copies.

Eagles manager Irving Azoff had been touting the band’s sales and Wal-Mart responded Tuesday with a release stating the CD had posted the largest first week sales of any music product at Wal-Mart in the past two years.

“It has exceeded our first week projections. With the holiday season approaching we are confident that the double CD package will be one of the biggest sellers in Wal-Mart history,” said Gary Severson, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president of entertainment. The company has sent sales data to the RIAA to get the disc certified multi-platinum.

In the past, Wal-Mart has not released sales figures for its exclusive offerings.

The chain reportedly purchased 3 million copies of the album. It is selling the two-disc set of 20 songs in store for $11.88 or $10.88 in downloadable MP3 format online.

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