UPDATE: Columbia Records says 828,773 copies of “Beyonce” were sold worldwide in three days. That sets a new iTunes record.
EARLIER: After only three days on sale, Beyonce’s new self-titled album has broken the U.S. iTunes Store’s record for the largest sales week for an album.
According to multiple industry sources, “Beyonce” sold 617,000 downloads through the close of business on Sunday, Dec. 15. The album bowed — without any pre-release announcement — in the iTunes Store at midnight EST on Friday morning, Dec. 13. None of its songs are available a la carte (which is likely helping encourage full album purchases). The 14-song set is selling for $15.99 and additionally comes with 18 videos. Fourteen of those are for each of the album’s songs.
“Beyonce” breaks the previous one-week iTunes record, set by Taylor Swift’s “Red” when it sold 465,000 in the week ending Oct. 28, 2012. (The digital version of “Red” was exclusively sold through iTunes for its first week. It became available to all digital retailers after its first week on sale.)
To note: The music industry tracks weekly sales on a Monday through Sunday basis, hence why Beyonce’s feat is being measured after only three days on sale. “Red” had seven days of sales in its first tracking week, as it was released on Monday, Oct. 22.
“Beyonce’s” iTunes launch is also the second-largest digital sales week overall — counting all digital retailers. It’s second behind the debut frame of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” which sold 662,000 downloads in its first week. (That number was enhanced by Amazon MP3’s decision to sell the set for 99-cents for two days during its first week. Billboard has estimated that Amazon MP3’s 99-cent version resulted in 440,000 copies sold.)
“Beyonce” is all but guaranteed a No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 chart this week, giving the diva her fifth consecutive No. 1 (her entire output of albums). The new Billboard 200’s No. 1 will be officially announced mid-week.
“Beyonce” will also lock in the largest sales week for Beyonce herself, surpassing her previous high, set when second album, “B’Day,” bowed with 541,000 in 2006 (according to Nielsen SoundScan).
Finally, “Beyonce” notches the largest sales week of 2013 for a woman, and the biggest since Swift’s “Red” debuted with 1.2 million in October of 2012.