Chinese Democracy‘s Sluggish Sales: What Happened To Guns N’ Roses’ Long-Awaited Release?

The sales figures are finally in, and after a nearly 17-year wait, Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy scanned just 261,200 copies, earning the album the #3 position on Billboard‘s weekly albums sales chart — right behind Taylor Swift’s Fearless at #2 (with 267,400 sold) and Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak, which opens at #1 with sales of 450,000 and change.

Two weeks ago, GN’R's latest was considered a strong contender for the chart’s peak position, with some predicting the album would outperform West’s 808s in a close race for #1. Instead, history may show Chinese Democracy‘s first-week sales as an epic failure.

So, what exactly went wrong? Was it a byproduct of an exclusive deal with Best Buy? Recent albums by the likes of AC/DC and the Eagles were both released exclusively through Wal-Mart (which boasts more locations than Best Buy), and both debuted at #1 with more than 700,000 sold. Did Rose sign an exclusive deal with the wrong retailer?

Did the complete lack of music videos and mainstream press (Rose had not granted any media interviews around the album’s release) hurt the album’s sales? Or did the LP’s extensive delay stymie interest? After all, 17 years is a long time to wait; some spouses don’t even wait that long for incarcerated loved ones.

Was it the innumerable online song leaks over the years, or will the economy be blamed for the album’s third-place finish? Perhaps, for a band that was popular 20 years ago, selling 261,000-plus records is a real achievement — especially in this day and age, when albums aren’t always bought, but illegally downloaded.

What do you think hurt first-week sales of Chinese Democracy? Share your thoughts below.