France Album Sales: Madonna


This Excel capture displays both the album sales of each Madonna studio set as well as the percentage of evolution from album to album.

As per the evolution curve, Ray Of Light is the artist most successful album while her worst is Hard Candy. Surprising? Well, not that much. In fact, both Like A Virgin and True Blue were immensely popular, each with respectively 191% and 153% of their immediate predecessor sales starting from a high point. If both end up nowhere near Ray Of Light, it is because Madonna was still a fresh new hyped act. Without downgrading results of her early albums, tons of artists have been big with their first albums. What appears to be a gigantic smash is reproducing hey-days sales after several lower profile albums, which is very precisely Ray Of Light.

At the end of the day, if Madonna had followed a natural path her sales would have continued to go down in late 90s and afterwards. Had this situation happened, Celine Dion would have been likely the biggest selling female album artist ever. Ray Of Light changed Madonna career from one of the biggest female artists of all-time to the biggest female artist of all-time.

In the same way, Confessions On A Dance Floor outstanding results have been as unexpected as impressive.

Among negative albums, each Like A Prayer, Erotica, Bedtime Stories, Music and American Life sold 58-72% of their predecessor. It is no surprise that both MDNA (45%) and Rebel Heart (52%) are two huge flops. I myself often argued how much of a flop Hard Candy was when it was first released in 2008, only to be contradicted by many. This album is the exact opposite of Ray Of Light, an album that lowered expectations so much – only 25% of its predecessor –  that it made the artist lose sales once all things considered as it destroyed the artist profile in the middle and long run, as shown on results of following records.

A last comment, pretty relevant in Madonna case. Among her 12 non-debut studio albums, 4 of them outsold their predecessor, each of them achieving from 153% to 390% of the previous set. In the other side, her 8 decreasing albums all did 25-72% of their predecessor. As incredible as it may seem over the curse of 12 albums, none of them sold 73-152% of their predecessors. In other words, all Madonna albums have been huge smashes or relative flops, an entire career made of up and down albums. Obviously, it must be said that this curve of sales have been entirely done on very high waters with Madonna weakest albums selling numbers dreamed by many.

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

Sources: SNEP, IFOP, GFK, Spotify,

19 thoughts on “France Album Sales: Madonna”

  1. Spotify figures don’t include all the streams. You have left out almost all Immaculate Collection- and Celebration-collection albums’ streams. For example Papa Don’t Preach’s total streams are 11,63 M ( True Blue-album: 4,02 M, Immaculate Collection-album:0,87 M, Celebration-album 6,74 M) or Like A Prayer’s total streams are 45,25 M (Like A Prayer-album: 15,93 M, Immaculate Collection-album: 0,93 M and Celebration- album 28,39 M). And so on and so on.

    1. Hello Sami,

      Of course you are correct! I voluntarily leave out live versions and remixes on most of those studies because they are pretty meaningless in the usage of streaming and add in heavy work that is thus inefficient, but Madonna songs streams have never been merged unlike most artists. I now added all studio/compilation versions together. Thanks again!

  2. i dont think flop is the right word. u cant compare sales of ray of light to mdna or sales of true blue to rebel heart. the industry is different albums dont sell like they used to. sure some of her albums have underperformed a bit but all have made the best seller list world wide for the year they were released . great article though

    1. Hello Kieron,

      I’m afraid to say it is pretty much the opposite, e.g. the likes MDNA / Rebel Heart are not bad sellers due to the bad market, instead they charted OK-ish thanks to the market. The overall collapse of sales is not equal to all type of consumers, regular buyers left the game to get into streaming, fans still pick up proper albums just like older public (the average age of CD buyers in 2015 is 48!). Thus, The flop of those latter Madonna albums don’t look as big as they really are since the overall weakness of regular buyers purchases give fan base buyings a ridiculously inflated importance. The same performing albums, had they been released during the 90s, would have sold a bit more for sure but they would have been nowhere to be seen in Top 50 year end charts of most countries.

      MDNA for example was officially the 12th top seller of 2012, but nowhere near the Top 50 most successful albums of the year. In fact, in a few years you will be able to notice it when checking combined streams of all albums from that year and see it will be way, way lower down the pack.

  3. What a great job!
    Thank you for this!

    Madonna for me is a unique album seller.
    I am happy that after 30+ years her NEW album “Rebel Heart” managed to sell 55.000 in France and 1.000.000 worldwide… I mean that 1 million for 2016 is a great number!

    Also I should add that Rebel Heart sold 1million WORLDWIDE and the sales are spread WORLDWIDE. For example Celine’s latest album might have sold 1 million but the 800k are from France and Canada. (I am exaggerating a little bit but I want you to understand my point of view). I am happy that Madonna sold 55k in France, 250 in the US, 80k in the Uk, 50k in Italy, 50k in Asia, 100k in south america etc….

    I love your website, continue the good job!

  4. Actually there were no additional single for Hard Candy in France, after summer, until the release in December of Miles Away, without a video. About 6 months separated the 2 singles and that killed off the album which had managed to remain within the TOP 100 all along the first singles career runs.

    1. Hello FM,

      France got the same singles as other countries – 4 Minutes, Give It 2 Me and Miles Away. In fact, Give It 2 Me was not available on physical format which is why it hasn’t chart, but it was fully promoted on radios and TVs and charted for as much as 20 weeks in the Digital chart from April to September, peaking at #11 and being #44 in the 2008 Year End Chart with close to 30,000 downloads. This single was fully responsible for the album stability during the summer.

  5. Angel was no single in France, only in a few markets like the USA. In France we did have Crazy for you during the summer which has been one of her least successful album.
    Into the Groove was huge and managed to get into the French top 10 as soon as it was released, a very rare achievement at that time.

    1. Hello again FM,

      During the 80s, labels were defining a list of singles to track in order to build the weekly ranking. Time to time, they were delaying the addition of a song in order to create a higher entry. It happened with several singles, most notably Kaoma hit La Lambada for which Sony tried to create a #1 debut by delaying various weeks its inclusion on charts. When they finally did, it appeared they did so too early as the song debuted at #3 before topping the ranking from its second week.

      Into The Groove was an other example of a voluntarily delayed chart inclusion creating the illusion of a huge entry. Ultimately it was obviously a big hit but the high debut is much more due to a chart technicality rather than an illustration of an unusual popularity.

        1. Hello Gustavo,

          The website has a Twitter page since the beginning and a Facebook page has now been created. Links at the right top and bottom. All publications will be posted on each social media!

  6. I was just wondering. How does “Ray of Light” managed to be so successful in Europe when you consider most of her singles did terribly on the European charts. It seems like this album does not reflect the conventional belief that strong singles = strong album sales. It is the case in America though, as the album only managed to sell 4-5 million, which isnt really that big for Madonna standard. I hope you could explain to me how it ended being such a strong seller. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Fix!

      Frozen was a huge hit in Europe, blocked at #2 for several weeks almost everywhere due to My Heart Will Go On only. Not only that, it was seen as a much more mature song than her previous material, which led many consumers go by the album rather than singles when the following ones came out. Factor in the massive market in Europe by 1998 (in most countries, about 3 times bigger than in mid 80s) and you get a 7-million seller!

  7. The greatest mystery for me is Immaculate Collection in Billboard 200. It entered the chart a month after ther release and peaked at #2 three months after the release. Why?

    1. Hi Anna,

      3 things:
      1) The Billboard date refers to the publication date of the magazine. An album released on day 1 have its first week of sales completed on day 7, the process of charts implementation brought us to ~day 10 and then time to write / produce / deliver the magazine, albums were entering charts with a “publication date” nearly 1 month after arriving to the market. That’s the only reason why TIC entered “a month after the release” as in reality it entered the first chart published after its release.
      2) Soundscan, the body scanning accurately sales at retaliers, was introduced in May 1991. Up to that point, it was down to retailers to send their own ranking of top sellers and Billboard applied needed weightings to build the BB200. The process was widely inaccurate and the main issue was that retailers weren’t reporting very fast / the new releases, they first waited some time before ranking them. That’s why pre 1991 the typical US ranking stars low and peak after 3/4 weeks while post-1991 we see albums debuting at their peak. So again, this is barely down to a technicality.
      3) TIC still peaked rather slowly because Americans aren’t that much fans of Greatest Hits. Many sell well thanks to decades of catalog sales, but those packages rather go Top 3 upon release. TIC still managed to go fairly high (#2 as you mention) thanks to the hit of Justify My Love which needed to grow on radio. That’s why TIC was still going strong in early 1991 instead of being short-lived.

        1. Many albums went Diamond in the US without hitting #1 – in fact, Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits went Diamond without ever entering the Billboard 200!!

  8. I completely agree about Hard Candy. It was the turning point (or maybe even of no return), not American Life. From the cover with her fingers touching her left cheek and box – it was creepy.

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