Over his 38-year recording career, Prince sometimes invented clever new ways to rack up album sales. His death Thursday provided a much more predictable boon to his numbers.
The Minneapolis rock icon’s sales took a royal 41,000 percent jump in the three days after his passing Thursday, totaling 579,000 U.S. albums sold through Sunday. “The Very Best of Prince” alone sold 250,000 copies, more than enough to land him at the top of the Billboard album chart once again. “Purple Rain” came in second with 133,000 U.S. copies sold.
Also predictable, demand in his native Twin Cities was especially strong.
The Electric Fetus in Minneapolis — always heavily stocked with Prince — sold as many of his records in four days as it typically does all year. Enough of Prince’s music was sold there to give him all 20 slots in the store’s weekly top 20 chart this week.
“It’s been incredible, but of course we’d rather it not be for this reason,” said store buyer Jim Novak.
The Fetus had many albums overnighted from a national distributor over the weekend, so it still has many of Prince’s biggest titles in stock on CD, plus assorted vinyl. Eclipse Records in downtown St. Paul, however, is bone dry and has been since Friday.
“People came in and bought up everything right away,” said Eclipse owner Joe Furth.
Even without any of Prince’s music in the bins, Eclipse still drew a crowd of his fans over the weekend while it was broadcasting 89.3 the Current’s 26-hour all-Prince marathon in the store.
“People just wanted to come in and listen, and be around other people listening,” Furth said.
Both stores expect to have fresh stock by the weekend, though mostly just CDs. Vinyl albums take longer to order and ship.
Digital sales of Prince’s songs also rocketed on iTunes, Amazon and other online outlets, with 2.3 million songs bought for download since Thursday. Foremost among them were (in order) “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry,” “Little Red Corvette” and “Let’s Go Crazy.” The numbers were likely helped by the fact that Prince’s music is only available for streaming on one site, Tidal.