July 4, 2005

Stars see album sales soar after Live 8 gigs

By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - They came out of charity. They left withbooming record sales.

The galaxy of rock stars who took part in Live 8 concertson Saturday to help beat the curse of poverty have seen theirdiscs fly off the shelves in British music stores -- a case ofbank balances as well as consciences winning out.

Live 8's main cause, making poverty history, also benefitedthough, after the London performance of Beatles classic "Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was released over theInternet with all proceeds going to the campaign.

According to HMV, one of Britain's main record retailerswith 200 stores nationwide, Pink Floyd's "Echoes" album posteda staggering 1,343 percent increase in sales on Sunday comparedwith the same day a week ago.

The band re-formed for the Live 8 concert in London's HydePark, where they joined pop legends Paul McCartney, Madonna, U2and Elton John among others in front of 200,000 people.

"Even allowing for the relative nature of this exercise ...this snapshot still shows that the Live 8 concert is having amarked effect on sales of featured artist recordings," saidGennaro Castaldo, spokesman for the HMV chain.

He stressed that the increase for Pink Floyd and other actsappearing in Hyde Park was partly due to the low number ofrecords sold on Sunday, June 26. Total sales of "Echoes" onSunday, July 3, the day after Live 8, were approaching 1,000.

Next came The Who's "Then & Now," with an increase of 863percent, Annie Lennox's "Eurythmics Greatest Hits" (500percent) and Dido's "Life For Rent" (412 percent).


Coldplay's "X&Y," which has stormed the charts in Britainand the United States, registered one of the smallest increasesout of the London Live 8 acts at just three percent.

But according to HMV, the band still sold the highestnumber of records at more than 2,800.

The only Live 8 performer to have clocked a drop in saleswas Pete Doherty. His former group the Libertines saw sales oftheir "Up the Bracket" album drop by 35 percent.

Doherty's performance was singled out by the British mediaas one of the worst of the nine-hour Hyde Park music marathon.

The Mirror tabloid called his duet with Elton John"shambolic," and people at the gig said he struggled with thewords of "Children of the Revolution" and looked unsteady onhis feet.

Record label Universal Music Group released online "Sgt.Pepper," sung by McCartney and U2 at the opening of the HydePark gig, within minutes of the performance.

A spokesman for Universal said it was already the numberone track on the iTunes online music service in Britain,Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium. Nooutright sales figures were available on Monday. Proceeds go toLive 8.

The closing London Live 8 song, another Beatles classic"Hey Jude," has also been put online.