CSPC: Metallica Popularity Analysis

Metallica cd´s

Physical Singles Sales
Kill ‘Em All (1983) – 75,000  equivalent albums

Whiplash & Jump In The Fire – 250,000

Ride The Lightning (1984) – 150,000  equivalent albums

Creeping Death – 500,000

Master Of Puppets (1986) – 60,000  equivalent albums

Master Of Puppets – 200,000

…And Justice For All (1988) – 300,000  equivalent albums

Harvester Of Sorrow – 200,000
Eye Of The Beholder
– 100,000
– 700,000

Metallica (1991) – 1,050,000 equivalent albums

Enter Sandman – 900,000
The Unforgiven 
– 500,000
Nothing Else Matters 
– 1,500,000
Whenever I May Roam & Sad But True 
– 600,000

Load (1996) – 600,000  equivalent albums


Until It Sleeps – 1,200,000
Hero Of The Day
– 400,000
Mama Said & King Nothing
– 400,000

Reload (1997) – 360,000  equivalent albums

The Memory Remains – 500,000
The Unforgiven II & Fuel – 700,000

Garage Inc. (1998) – 165,000  equivalent albums

Turn The Page – 300,000
Whiskey In The Jar & Die, Die My Darling – 250,000

St. Anger (2003) – 150,000  equivalent albums

St. Anger – 300,000
Frantic, The Unnamed Feeling & Some Kind Of Monster – 200,000

Death Magnetic (2008) – 45,000 equivalent albums

The Day That Never Comes – 100,000
My Apocalypse, Cyanide, The Judas Kiss, All Nightmare Long & Broken, Beat And Scarred – 50,000

Orphan Album – 150,000 equivalent albums

I Disappear – 400,000

Remaining tracks – 100,000

We can identify several phases in the above numbers. An initial one, with a string a singles for their first three albums that didn’t chart almost anywhere in the world but still accumulated reasonably good sales, as proven by the silver award of Creeping Death in the UK during 1989, despite being released originally in 1984.

A second phase starts with ...And Justice For All and, especially, the single One. Metallica consolidated their ascending pattern with the singles off their self-titled album from 1991, which contained arguably their two most iconic songs, Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman.

From Load onwards we see some good numbers, with the physical singles market on the decline. Until It Sleeps appears to be their most significant one over that period.

All told, the group sold more than 10 million singles, a remarkable amount if one considers the type of music they produce.

12 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.

  4. Great work again!

    “On the other hand, their debut Kill ‘Em All lacks a proper hit singles on its own, unlike the two other albums covered above.”

    I thought “Seek and Destroy” would be a huge streaming track. This early classic has been played at almost every concert of their entire career, and it’s quite big on youtube. One version has 27 mio views another has 25 mio. Easily the biggest from Kill ’em All and on par with (or bigger than) other early classics like “Creeping death”, “Ride the Lightning”, “Battery” and “Welcome Home Sanitarium”.

    I can’t believe “Seek and Destroy” only ranks 5th on Kill Em All in your streaming research!! Could spelling be an issue? Seek and Destroy, Seek n Destroy, Seek & Destroy…

    Thomas (Dane)

    1. Hi again Thomas!

      Yes, I was myself surprised when Hernan compiled this article at first. It seems the track was either unavailable / or had an incorrect count by then, since by now Seek & Destroy is indeed way ahead of the remaining songs from Kill ‘Em All! As of now, it has 23,2 million streams, The 4 Horsemen is on 14,5 million and both Hit the Lights and Whiplash are on 9,5/10 million.

      Their recent album / tour clearly boosted them as Enter Sandman is now almost on 200 million!

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