Hello everyone! Let me introduce this third Master Series with this few words: Facts can also lie.
Katy Perry sold more records than Dire Straits, Bon Jovi and the Guns N’ Roses. White Christmas by Bing Crosby and Candle In The Wind by Elton John are the two bestselling singles of all-time. Mariah Carey album Butterfly sold more copies than any album ever released by Taylor Swift.
Yes, something is wrong here. All those claims are correct in absolute terms but completely meaningless. The natural thinking when watching a bestselling records and artists list is to assume it reflects the most successful ones. This is false. As fitting as it seems, just checking raw data isn’t enough to identify which songs, albums and artists are popular. Most articles state “record sales” mixing everything, as if one digital track sales and one deluxe 4CD album was the same product. Lately, streaming has been growing too. Many voices denied them as legit ‘sales’. In reality, they highlighted a need that has been around for decades but ignored for too long. Indeed, music industry needs one single relevant and consistent scale that would fit for all records, from all eras, rather than barely looking at ‘units’ although they refer to apples and oranges.
You got the point? Wait, there is more. If format differences are important, we also need to consider the way majors have been working out on a catalog. If you have a look into Elvis Presley catalog, you will easily notice it has way more compilations than studio albums. Thus, checking studio albums sales give the feeling he was a pretty weak seller. The point is that his singles were available over a large amount of records, thus diluting sales over all of them. In the other side, various one-album wonders a la Ace Of Base look like monster sellers, barely because all their sales are concentrated on a single product. As a consequence, our generic scale must also put on par all recordings independently from the way they have been exploited.
This Master Series will be presenting figures for various albums using a completely new point of view, aimed to be the figures reflecting the best the real popularity of albums and artists.
This generic scale is named the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept, abbreviated CSPC. When displaying figures using this concept, I’ll be using the measurement unit “CSP”.