AC/DC’s Wal-Mart deal seems unnecessary, Drake researcher says

DES MOINES, Iowa—Veteran rock outfit AC/DC’s deal to sell its forthcoming album exclusively in Wal-Mart stores shouldn’t really alter the landscape of AC/DC album sales, according to a recent statistical analysis.

As the rock community braces for the Oct. 20 U.S. release of Black Ice, a Drake University study has revealed that AC/DC might have unnecessarily entered into an exclusivity deal with retail behemoth Wal-Mart, given that 96.8 percent of the band’s discs sold in the United States since 1990 were purchased in a Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club store.

“This is like if Fall Out Boy decided to sell its licensed T-shirts exclusively at Hot Topic—to the fans, it would be business as usual,” said Stephen J. Danssler, associate professor of communication studies at Drake and lead author of the AC/DC research findings, which were published in the September issue of Kerrang! magazine. “I guess it’s nice to have a deal in writing, but AC/DC and Wally World have long been partners in the distribution of formulaic, redundant, mind-numbing butt rock.”

Indeed, the numbers found in the Drake study are staggering. Danssler’s report notes that Back in Black, an album that has seen sales topping 22 million in the United States, moved 94.3 percent of its post–1990 American sales through the warehouses and supercenters of Sam’s and Wal-Mart. Another 3.7 percent was sold at Midwestern Pamida stores; the remaining 2 percent was attributed to sales at the Iowa 80 truck stop just west of the Quad Cities.

“You can buy a lot of shit [at Iowa 80],” Danssler said. “Including AC/DC albums.”

Sales figures for the 1995 release Ballbreaker, according to Stephen Danssler's figures.

Sales breakdown by seller for the 1995 release Ballbreaker.

More recent releases, such as 1990’s The Razors [sic] Edge, 1995’s Ballbreaker, and 2000’s Stiff Upper Lip saw even greater sales numbers at Wal-Mart locations as Pamida vanished from the “rube retail” realm. In fact, according to Danssler’s figures, Stiff Upper Lip logged 99.2 percent of its sales from Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club; the remaining discs were sold at a Ben Franklin five-and-dime store in Cobblers Point, Wis., while that town’s Wal-Mart was closed for seven days following an immigration raid.

Danssler was asked about a couple of common factors that have eroded album sales in America’s typical brick-and-mortar shops: secondhand CD sales at used CD stores, and digital outlets such as iTunes Music Store.

“Let me address the first point, the used-CD stores,” Danssler said. “This has definitely hurt some bands in recent years. Frankly, if someone needs a copy of Motley Crue’s Decade of Decadence, that person can go to any Disc-Go-Round or Revitalized Vinyl and snag it for pennies.

“But when the ‘DC sells an album, most likely to a Wal-Mart patron, rest assured that that disc would never be resold, not even to the devil.”

On the topic of digital sales, Danssler snickered and said, “AC/DC fans don’t own computers.”

In a show of multidisciplinary cooperation, marketing faculty from Drake’s business school also contributed to the study, showing the untapped benefits Wal-Mart could gain from an official partnership with AC/DC.

“Wal-Mart’s shitty Dr. Pepper knockoff soda is called Dr. Thunder,” said Sam Gianno, faculty chair of Drake’s marketing department, during a phone interview to discuss his contribution to the study. “Now close your eyes for a second. Picture some mullet-headed stud, or perhaps a sweaty broad in a bikini, downing a big glass of brown fizzy refreshment.

“As the drinker continues to chug, you start to hear a guitar lick getting louder and louder. Suddenly a chant begins: THUNDER! NA-NA-NA-NA NA-NA-NA-NA! THUNDER! That’s right, ‘Thunderstruck’ teams up with Dr. Thunder.”

After letting out a bemused chuckle, Gianno adds, “If a 67-cent price tag can’t sell a 2-liter of that swill, I’m betting AC/DC can.”

John Mundt, Esq., contributed to this report.


4 responses to “AC/DC’s Wal-Mart deal seems unnecessary, Drake researcher says

  1. Not really funny or accurate. A recent survey of users (they own computers it seems) showed the same allegiance to AC/DC as they showed to Lego bricks and Linux. Sure, AC/DC appeals to the mullet mavens, but to conclude (even in jest) that their fan base consists of truckers and PBR-drinking red necks is pretty weak.

    Furthermore, the Wal*Mart deal included a 3 Million album pre-purchase (a good bit higher than sales of their last 2 albums) that cannot be returned. In retrospect, it’s clear from forum mania, the quality of the two publicly-released songs, and the Miley Cyrus-esque (plus) ticket sales that they would have sold 3 Million anyway.

  2. I know this is satire but it seems like it might also be fact… 😉 I don’t care, AC/DC still rock! Has anyone seen their display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? I work on behalf of Positively Cleveland, and we’re getting the word out about the Rock Hall. I highly encourage all music fans (and especially AC/DC fans) to check it out. You can start on our website: Also go to to enter to win passes to the Rock Hall AND a private tour from the curator!

    Hope I haven’t overstepped my bounds by leaving this comment; just working to let people know about what Cleveland has to offer! If you have any questions or concerns feel free to Email me 🙂

    Cary A. Andrews
    Positively Cleveland

  3. Heh-heh. Funny. But why pick on us here in Prairie du Chien? The toss-off line about our Wal-Mart being closed by Immigration seems a little too intentionally hurtful. It never happened, of course. And I get how it was included as a point of esoteric, referencial humor. But why choose a real place, with a real Wal-Mart (full of real people working within – immigration raid free – for twenty years)? Very, very few people have ever heard of us, so why not just make up a town? Cobblers Point. Spindleton. North Mauton. Resterville. To grab the name “Prairie du Chien” out of the ether suggests that you either A) are somehow familiar with us, and have included the city as a cheeky nod, or B) this was all an elaborate trick to get me to read this AC/DC piece by tripping my Prairie du Chien “Google alert.” Hmm. Maybe there is a method to your madness after all. Well done, my friends. Well done.

  4. Google alerts rule.

    Consider yourself an honorary editor at SftD, John.

    Yours in Jesus,

    The Rev. Ug

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