November 8, 2008 / 2:50 AM / 10 years ago

Journey song leads vintage tunes as No. 1 download

NEW YORK (Billboard) - It’s the hit that keeps on hitting.

Journey’s 27-year-old “Don’t Stop Believin’” has just become the first catalog track to sell more than 2 million digital downloads, dwarfing the numbers posted by such classic rock warhorses as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” (1.46 million) and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (1.44 million).

Through a combination of high-profile placements and happy accidents, “Believin’” has sold 2.03 million downloads since hitting digital service providers in April 2003, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The song’s most famous placement was the series finale of “The Sopranos” in June 2007, after which digital sales went up 482%. It has also appeared in episodes of “Family Guy” and “Laguna Beach” as well as the Oscar-winning Charlize Theron film “Monster.”

“They are one of the most important artists we have,” Sony Music Entertainment Commercial Music Group president John Ingrassia says. “We’re constantly working with the band and our team to create new products or highlight the catalog.”

As such, Sony’s Legacy archival label is able to spring into action when out-of-the-blue opportunities arise, such as when the Chicago White Sox adopted “Believin’” as its unofficial theme song on the road to a 2005 World Series championship.

Ingrassia says, “We always do search engine marketing and promotion through the Web sites of TV shows or other partners, but now we can go to DSPs (digital service providers) and say, ‘We can do a lot more with this if you’ll work with us.’”

And although the Steve Perry-sung original is far and away the most well-known, Ingrassia says Legacy can benefit from the fact that Journey recently rerecorded the song with new singer Arnel Pineda for release on a Wal-Mart exclusive hits package. “Might there be people who want to hear the new version?” he says. “Sure. But that activity helps us as well.”

Indeed, the specific placement almost seems secondary to fans simply hearing “Believin’” in a new setting and wanting to buy it. “This is all a tribute to Journey and that track,” Ingrassia says. “Whenever people hear it, they always react.”

Reuters/Billboard

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