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Green Day Go Number One Without the Help of Walmart

Green Day’s new 21st Century Breakdown is one of the year’s biggest hits ”“ and the punk trio did it without Walmart. The big-box chain, which is the largest CD retailer in America, has a policy against stocking CDs with parental-advisory stickers, but Green Day refused to change the album. “Understand that we pay a […]

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David Browne Jul 21, 2009
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Green Day’s new 21st Century Breakdown is one of the year’s biggest hits ”“ and the punk trio did it without Walmart. The big-box chain, which is the largest CD retailer in America, has a policy against stocking CDs with parental-advisory stickers, but Green Day refused to change the album. “Understand that we pay a financial price when our albums aren’t available in the largest physical retailer in the US,” says Billie Joe Armstrong. “We want our fans to experience our albums the way we created them, and therefore we don’t do edited versions. It’s essential for us that fans will be able to buy an album and know that it’s purely our creative vision.”

The band has sold more than 450,000 copies of 21st Century Breakdown in its first three weeks. Still, label sources estimate that Green Day missed out on selling as many as 100,000 more copies of the album in its debut week by forgoing Walmart ”“ an indication of the continuing clout of the chain as retailers like Tower Records and the Virgin Megastores have collapsed. (This isn’t the first time Green Day have declined to edit an album for Walmart: 2004’s American Idiot has sold more than 5 million copies without the chain.) “Fortunately, people can access music in more ways than ever before,” says Armstrong. “They can purchase CDs from small independents all the way to large chains. Our biggest concern when we signed to a major label was we wanted to keep our creative freedom intact, and we have done that.”

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