It's a battle of the bands, as AC/DC's Black Ice slugs it out with Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy.  

It's a battle of the brands, as Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) have respective exclusivity of the recently-released studio albums.

The Wall Street Journal took a look at both releases earlier this week. It's not even close.

First two weeks on the market

CD Sales

Black Ice


Chinese Democracy


Source: Nielsen SoundScan.

The rub for Best Buy is that it already paid for 1.3 million copies of GNR's album in the deal to secure initial retail exclusivity. Sales fell sharply in the second week and are unlikely to recover unless the record scores a commercial hit.

That is certainly possible. There are a few GNR-style rock ballads that sound radio friendly on the disc. I would also be shocked if "Better" doesn't get released as a single soon, since it's a much better choice than the title track, commercially speaking.

However, going by today's report card, we can probably begin wondering why Best Buy dropped the ball here. It didn't necessarily bet on the wrong horse. Neither band has had a stateside radio hit in ages, so both releases were gambles.

This doesn't mean that Best Buy shouldn't learn from what Wal-Mart did right. More than just a CD release, Wal-Mart went all out to promote the exclusivity. It raised the stakes by loading up on AC/DC apparel to sell and even teamed up with Viacom (NYSE:VIA) and Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) to stock an exclusive AC/DC expansion pack for the popular Rock Band video game series.

Wal-Mart took a page out of the "360 deals" that venue promoter Live Nation (NYSE:LYV) has inked in recent years, cashing in on the AC/DC franchise across several revenue streams. It didn't simply tether itself to just one studio album or pin all of its hopes on a mercurial singer with a finicky sense of promotion.

In the end, Wal-Mart gets it. Best Buy may appear to devote more shelf space to music in its stores than Wal-Mart, but the discount department store that Sam Walton built is the country's leading CD retailer by girth alone.

It's no surprise to find that the company that bet on the bobbing Australian guitarist in a schoolboy outfit schooled the consumer electronics powerhouse that should know better.

Forget stocks for a moment. Would you rather go see Guns N' Roses or AC/DC live? Post your thoughts in the comment box below.

Wal-Mart Stores and Best Buy are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Electronic Arts and Best Buy are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Best Buy. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a music fan since birth. His band was once signed to Sony's Columbia Records label many moons ago. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.