CSPC: Rihanna Popularity Analysis

Rihanna - Discography

We started by defining the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept, then we applied it to 1975 biggest albums to understand how much the differences of catalog exploitation by labels may impact the success perception. To get the CSPC force fully up and running we now need to analyze the case of a recent artist to highlight how this revolutionary methodology enables us to compare album successes from very different eras.

To do that, the perfect example happens to be Rihanna. Why so? First because she came under the spotlight in 2005 when the Digital era had started already. Second because she has been consistently successful building a real catalog despite being around for not that many years. Third because her album discography includes only studio albums with no live nor compilation so we can focus on checking the impact of format conversions rather than discography exploitation. Fourth because the superstar is widely regarded as a singles artist so studying overall album results will prove that claim wrong or right. In fact, in a second step, I’ll be posting a similar article for an artist big during the same era but widely regarded as an album act, to compare both results and see which one is really the most successful of them. Michael Buble is the hot favorite to be the subject of this second step study, if you can think of anyone else similar that interests you, feel free to ask for him/her in comments section. As Rihanna biggest album Good Girl Gone Bad just ended to be certified 5xPlatinum for over 5 million sales with Track Equivalent Albums system, old fashioned watchers already started to rant. Let show them former strict album sales are not the be-all and end-all of popularity evidences.

To remind you how CSPC articles are articulated, we will start by focusing on raw data, setting how much each of Rihanna albums sold. Then, we will check sales of each track from the artist on each format – physical, digital and streaming – and weight them to value those figures on a par with album sales. It must be noted that as various Singles Charts around the world mixed relevant physical and download sales at some point, this category will include approximations but that won’t have much of an impact on final results. To complete the study, we will study sales of the few music videos she dropped. Once all the raw data is set, we will only need to apply appropriate weighting to get the overall picture of Rihanna career results.

Let’s go!

23 thoughts on “CSPC: Rihanna Popularity Analysis”

  1. Salut MJD!
    Une petite incohérence: les ventes mondiales de Unapologetic sont-elles 3.8m (page 19) ou 3.9m (page 8)?

  2. Do you count sales from South Korea in her total sales *Page 12*? Because Love The Way You Lie II alone has sold 1,317,106 there (1,229,836 as of 2015 + 87 270 in first six months of 2016) which is alomst 2Xmore than you suggest. The rest seems pretty ok.

    1. Hello Sledgehammer!

      There is two real debates around the figure you post.

      1) Original vs Remix. I’m aware Love The Way You Lie II isn’t properly a remix, but it is hardly a real new song still. I counted 1,3 million South Korean sales indeed, but did so on Love The Way You Lie tally, along with its own sales. The question was for me is it the well known single that sold well or the album track, I went for the former scenario, as to me those sales are more legitimate into the Orphan Album rather than on Rihanna original album.
      2) South Korean downloads: should they be counted at all? As you may know the nature of downloads in this country is different as one can download as many songs as desired after purchasing a subscription, thus generating high single sales. Still, in a CSPC logic, those sales cannibalised album sales a lot in the country, almost entirely replacing them. Ignoring those digital results would conclude into deleting South Korean market from the map. While it is a bit unfair to add those sales into legit single sales, they are no doubt valid as part of a weighted CSPC result.

  3. Hello MJD,
    I just saw that “Good Girl Gone Bad” is certified 5x platinium in USA, for 5 millions sales in this country. In your analysis, you put it at 3.1 million. Why this gap? Does RIAA count only sales, or other things?
    If they do not count only sales, many old albums must be recertified right?

    1. Hi Tony!

      Please refer to this article I posted in early February when RIAA updated its system to include both Single Sales and Streaming equivalent units into Albums certifications.

      Indeed, various catalog are eligible for upgraded certifications, it is up to their respective labels to request them.

    2. RIAA count Streams & Track Sales convereted into album sales. GGGB sold 3m in actual album sales. With TEA & SEA it’s 5m.

  4. Hi everyone!
    I reversed MJD’s formulas to determine the CSPC total for each song. We could interpret this as the CSPC total “due to” a song, so its success.

    I have calculated the top 10 below:
    Song [Album] = CSPC total (millions sales equivalent)

    We Found Love [Talk That Talk] = 3,29
    Umbrella [Good Girl Gone Bad] = 3,17
    Diamonds [Unapolegetic] = 2,78
    Only Girl (In the World) [Loud] = 2,49
    Unfaithful [A Girl Like Me] = 2,48
    S&M [Loud] = 2,34
    Take A Bow [Good Girl Gone Bad] = 2,32
    Don’t Stop the Music [Good Girl Gone Bad] = 2,13
    Pon de Replay [Music Of The Sun] = 2,08
    Disturbia [Good Girl Gone Bad] = 2,03

    NB: “Love The Way You Lie” is on an Eminem’s album, not a Rihanna’s one. This fact prevents this song to be a part of the top 10.

    If you have any question/remarks about the method/calculation I used to obtained these numbers, I will be pleased to answer you.


  5. How does 6.6M for Stay even make sense?

    The song sold 4.8M in the US and 800k in the UK, 400k in Canada, 400k in Australia.

    Those 4 countries alone put it at 6,4M. Did it only sell 200k in the rest of the world? Lmao.

    1. Hi Rexx,

      I guess the first required step before contradicting figures is to check facts. There is no way on earth Stay reached any of the 4 figures you claim by the date of the article. As an example, not even with streaming it got to 800k in the UK as of now, let alone by June with sales only.

      1. The sales are rounded up to the nearest hundred thousand. You have been doing it in the Beyonce article by hundreds of thousands or even millions so you should know.

        You can even add up the sales from Germany (300k+) and France (120k+) to make up for the rounding up and your number still doesn’t make sense.

        Stay is easily at 8M+ sales.

        Kiss Kiss and keep inflating those Bleachonce numbers.

  6. Btw you made a mistake. Total singles sales for Talk That Talk is 22.6 million, that should be 2,600,000 equivalent albums, no?

      1. You are fully correct Sledgehammer! The error will be fixed.

        Between, Rihanna CSPC article will be the first fully updated after the formulas get adjusted once the IFPI publishes the Digital Music Report of 2017.

        1. When are you going to update Rihanna’s CSPC article? I’d love to see the updated numbers of her 2016-2017 singles!

  7. Funny how people always talk about Beyonce staying power but nobody talks about Rihanna incredible staying power. In terms of hits, Rihanna has much2 bigger hits than Beyonce. And eventhough Beyonce has almost the same amount of CSPC, it mainly is because Rihanna has a much tougher debut album compared to Beyonce who already was a star by the time she released her first solo album. Rihanna had to start from scratch. Her sales in Europe is also very impressive. R&B is not really that accepted in Europe, bar the UK. However, she did sold quite impressively in France, Germany and other European markets. Beyonce’s sales in these other countries are literally non existent.

  8. So given your analysis, she has sold 120M pure singles, 60M singles as a feature, 65M albums with SPS and TEA. Given the formula of 150 streams = 1 single sold, and she has 22,250,000,000 streams from Spotify (with features) and YouTube combined, that equates 148,300,000 singles sales.

    Combining these figures, that equals 393M records sold! Did Rihanna truly sell this much?

    1. The 65M figure already includes her streaming and single sales converted into album equivalents. Why are you using her Spotify+Youtube numbers again to make “song equivalents”? You’re double counting her streaming. And you’re also double-counting her song sales since you’re adding the 120M figure to that total.

      She has sold around 230M records according to the analysis. But the 65M album equivalents number is more reflective of her actual success since 85% of her record sales are single sales priced 1.29$.

      1. I was writing a whole essay for explaining what I wanted to say.. but I think I just understood you’re saying, 1500 streams = 10 singles sold = 1 album sale BUT those “10 singles” aren’t actually going towards her single sales, but rather are converted into 1 album sale? (Without features, she receives 12.5M album sales from streaming.)

      2. So wait, given that, 120M pure single sales + 65M album sales TEA+SPS (including orphan albums cause why not) + 61M pure singles as a feature = 246M records sold.

        But what about single-equivalent units? If my previous statement is true, it doesn’t make sense as even the IFPI counts streams into single sales, which would bring us back to 395M..

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