2. Artists catalogs GENERALIZATION
We already mentioned the need of mixing both albums and singles. A question is still open, do we put all figures on the scale of albums or singles? If an artist sells 1 million albums and 5 million digital singles, will his sales be of 1,5 million (album equivalent) or 15 million (singles equivalent)?
I’ll be going with his sales equaling 1,5 million CSP, meaning putting the scale at the album height. I am going this point of view because artists release albums as one package, they refer to the same recordings session, the same state of mind. Putting CSP figures at the single height is perfectly acceptable as well yet.
There is various kind of albums – studio, live, remix, compilation. To create a generic catalog for all artists, we need to merge everything into the only kind of albums all artists release, which are studio albums. They are the only ones creating new popularity for the artist so that makes perfect sense. How should compilation or live album sales be considered then? Let illustrates the compilations role in a catalog with a concrete example. Below are yearly US sales of Come On Over album by Shania Twain:
1997 – 1,600,000
1998 – 4,900,000
1999 – 5,618,134
2000 – 1,541,385
2001 – 494,972
2002 – 343,453
2003 – 406,441
2004 – 370,139
2005 – 87,950
2006 – 53,533
The album was alive during years 1997-2000 before turning into a catalog item. From that point, it sold roughly 400,000 units every year. After four such years, it suddenly dropped to 88,000 units in 2005. Why so? Barely because her Greatest Hits album was released in November 2004, thus taking over the appeal of songs from Come On Over album. Had Greatest Hits not been released, the original album would have retained much better sales in the later years. Overall, Greatest Hits sold 4,3 million units in 10 years, an average of 430,000 copies, give or take what her studio albums covered by the hits package would have sold as catalog items if it wasn’t released. This resumes a key element, Greatest Hits is not selling because it is popular by itself, its sales are instead reflecting the popularity of the original Come On Over album – and Shania Twain, The Woman In Me and Up! at a lower scale.
So, do we simply ignore sales of compilations? Definitely not. Do we add a fourth of Greatest Hits sales into each of the four albums covered? As one is much bigger than the others, it wouldn’t be reflecting their own popularity. Do add a part of Greatest Hits proportional to the album sales of original records then? Again, no. Some tracks sell a lot of albums upon release but do not hold their appeal in the long run unlike others.
The best method consists in adding to original albums the share represented by its songs among the Greatest Hits total streaming. In fact, streaming is that powerful that we can know perfectly which songs are appealing consumers nowadays. The 21 songs of Greatest Hits accumulate 123 million streams, out of which 91 million are coming from Come On Over songs. The conclusion is that Come On Over is responsible for 3,18 million (74%) copies sold from the 4,3 million units Greatest Hits sold.
When rating the success of Come On Over, the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept will not only add its singles (physicals and digitals), its streaming and its related music videos to its album sales, but also 74% of Greatest Hits sales.