LONDON — They came out of charity. They left with booming record sales.
The galaxy of rock stars who took part in Live 8 concerts on Saturday to help beat the curse of poverty have seen their discs fly off the shelves in British music stores -- a case of bank balances as well as consciences winning out.
Live 8’s main cause, making poverty history, also benefited though, after the London performance of Beatles classic “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released over the Internet with all proceeds going to the campaign.
According to HMV, one of Britain’s main record retailers with 200 stores nationwide, Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” album posted a staggering 1,343 percent increase in sales on Sunday compared with the same day a week ago.
The band re-formed for the Live 8 concert in London’s Hyde Park, where they joined pop legends Paul McCartney, Madonna, U2 and 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 a marked effect on sales of featured artist recordings,” said Gennaro Castaldo, spokesman for the HMV chain.
He stressed that the increase for Pink Floyd and other acts appearing in Hyde Park was partly due to the low number of records sold on Sunday, June 26. Total sales of “Echoes” on Sunday, July 3, the day after Live 8, were approaching 1,000.
Next came The Who’s “Then & Now”, with an increase of 863 percent, Annie Lennox’s “Eurythmics Greatest Hits” (500 percent) and Dido’s “Life For Rent” (412 percent).
Coldplay’s “X&Y”, which has stormed the charts in Britain and the United States, registered one of the smallest increases out of the London Live 8 acts at just three percent.
But according to HMV, the band still sold the highest number of records at more than 2,800.
Except for ...
The only Live 8 performer to have clocked a drop in sales was Pete Doherty. His former group the Libertines saw sales of their “Up the Bracket” album drop by 35 percent.
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Doherty’s performance was singled out by the British media as 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 the words of “Children of the Revolution” and looked unsteady on his feet.
Record label Universal Music Group released online “Sgt. Pepper”, sung by McCartney and U2 at the opening of the Hyde Park gig, within minutes of the performance.
A spokesman for Universal said it was already the number one track on the iTunes online music service in Britain, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium. No outright sales figures were available on Monday. Proceeds go to Live 8.
The closing London Live 8 song, another Beatles classic “Hey Jude”, has also been put online.
EBay videos pulled
Meanwhile, auction site eBay said on Tuesday it had begun removing illegal DVD copies of the Live 8 poverty awareness pop concerts from its Web site, after the record industry complained.
Some of the pirate recordings on the site early on Tuesday were on sale within 24 hours of Saturday’s concerts ending, and have been attracting bids of up to $31 each.
One of them boasts footage from huge concerts in London’s Hyde Park and Philadelphia.
Ten concerts took place in all, from Tokyo in the east to near Toronto in the west, and more than a million people turned up to see the greatest line-up of rock stars ever assembled.
While the concerts were free, British media said record company EMI paid millions of pounds for the rights to release the official DVD of the event, which Bob Geldof organized to put pressure on world leaders to do more to beat poverty.
“There are too many people out there who believe music is for stealing, regardless of the wishes of artists and the people who invest in them,” said David Martin, director of anti-piracy at the British Phonographic Industry.
In the United States, at least, online viewing of the Live 8 concerts outpaced network TV. ABC’s two-hour highlights special from the Live 8 concerts drew just 2.9 million viewers Saturday, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research, far fewer than the 5 million users who logged on for AOL’s free live video streaming coverage.
The London and Philadelphia concerts also were carried earlier in the day on MTV and VH1, but the cable networks said ratings for the VJ-heavy broadcasts would not be available until Wednesday.
ABC’s 8-10 p.m. special featured such heavy hitters as Paul McCartney, U2, the Who, Pink Floyd, Tim McGraw, Green Day, and Coldplay. But some of the performances were truncated, and naughty words were bleeped.
AOL’s coverage exceeded expectations and brought in about 5 million users from roughly 11 a.m.-7 p.m. EDT. At its peak, AOL delivered 175,000 concurrent video streams of the concerts, according to an AOL spokeswoman.
Worldwide, the broadcasts of the 10 concerts garnered a combined television audience of some 3 billion viewers, organizer Bob Geldof claimed Monday.
Reuters and The Hollywood Reporter contributed to this report.