CSPC: Metallica Popularity Analysis


With the news of a new album coming out later this year, this seems like the right timing to analyze Metallica‘s full discography in the same way other new and classic acts have been covered over the past few months.

This will be the band’s tenth studio album, not counting their Garage Inc. covers compilation released in 1998, the first one they are dropping after 8 years when, in 2008, they put out Death Magnetic. By the way, 8 years is the longest Metallica have been without releasing new proper studio material, so it will be interesting to check how they perform.

Anyway, this whole CSPC’s analysis will obviously focus on their past records, which date us back to 1983, when they released their debut album Kill ‘Em All.

Metallica‘s career is remarkable for their huge back catalogue sales during the 90s and early 00s. Most things converged in their favor and, not surprisingly, allowed the American group to become one of the biggest sellers in the entire world. Metallica never put a compilation on the market, making it an imperative for their fans and casual listeners to buy the studio albums; additionally, they still get big airplay, especially in North America; plus they are an absolute reference for the metal world, meaning that any kid who wants to get into this music genre will most likely do so by buying one of their LPs. Those factors, in combination with the big market numbers of the 90s, explain much of their success.

Nevertheless, Metallica are a fascinating study case, so what follows is worthing reading with great attention.

As a reminder for users who are not yet familiar with the CSPC idea you do not need to worry, it is quite simple as it only consists in merging every format sales an artist has been getting and attributing them to respective studio albums. We will start by focusing on raw data, setting how much each album sold. Then, we will check sales of each track from those albums on each format – physical, digital and streaming – and weight them to value those figures on a par with album sales. To complete the study, we will study sales of the all compilations, live albums and music videos they dropped. Once all the raw data is set, we will only need to apply appropriate weighting to get the overall picture of the classic band’s career results.

Time to get things started!

8 thoughts on “CSPC: Metallica Popularity Analysis”

  1. Great work again MJD! Kinda shocked how low their physical single sales are, but their digital sales makes that up. Impressive total as well!

    I hope MJD, that you can analysis on artists that dominated the early 2000s and had big albums like Shakira (Laundry Service), Usher (Confessions), Alicia Keys (Songs In A Minor) or Christina Aguilera (Stripped). Looking forward for the next one.

  2. Great article! However the Australian estimate for Metallica is too low given it was certified 12 x Platinum in june 2015 (840,000) units

    1. Hey Innocent Eyes,

      Good to see you here! Thanks for noticing that. I totally forgot. It has already been corrected.

  3. I just want to thank you for the great research and analysis.

    Metallica’s one of my favorite bands and i’m delighted that the younger generations continue to discover the fantastic material they released from 1983-1991.

    The Black Album is right on Appetite for Destruction’s heels…only 500,000 behind and considering the catalog sales, it’s going to surpass it sooner rather than later.

    1. Btw, in the analysis of the …And Justice For All album (page 5), the sales estimate is 15,000,000 but on the other pages in the article (page 12 and page 23) it’s 15,500,000 which probably means that page 5 is a typo.

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