CSPC: U2 Popularity Analysis


U2 are without any doubt one of the biggest groups of all time after almost 4 decades together. They are a great study case as they have been pretty much the greatest selling band ever since they formed.

Their success can be explained in several different ways. As seen with Metallica, U2 seem to be a case of an act being at the right time and the right place to capitalize the best possible conditions, including huge market’s size for the most important part of their career, that is from 1987 to 2000, plus a great level of airplay and praise from the critics. All resulted, of course, in massive sales.

But not everything was easy for them. On the contrary, they were a bit of a slow burner, getting bigger and bigger with every new release until they finally broke all barriers of success in 1987 with The Joshua Tree, their biggest classic album, after a string of albums that added great sales little by little. It was quite a progressive highway to stardom, which means that the band needed to be patient.

Whichever way you look at it, the Irish group are an incredible act to fully examine, and more now when they seem not to be at their peak and they aren’t equally talked about as in previous years. A CSPC analysis on their whole catalogue sounds like a great journey!

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.

Said that, let’s get into their deep discography and see the results!

18 thoughts on “CSPC: U2 Popularity Analysis”

  1. This is a superb piece of work Hernan!

    You and Guillaume are doing sales analysis that hasn’t been even considered yet to show the true performance of music acts. Nice to see music videos finally get some importance attributed to them.

    I’m looking forward to acts like Queen, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and others.

    As Guillaume said though doing this work for Elvis would be a complete nightmare with his countless albums, singles, EPs, compilations, etc!

  2. Hi everyone!
    Thank you for the great job Hernan, it is always quite interesting!
    I reversed your formulas to determine the CSPC total for each song (I hope that it is consistent). I think that we can interpret this as the number of CSPC total “due to” a song, so its success.

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

    With Or Without You [The Joshua Tree] = 23,14
    Sunday Bloody Sunday [War] = 16,72
    One [Achtung Baby] = 14,61
    Beautiful Day [All That You Can’t Leave Behind] = 14,55
    I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For [The Joshua Tree] = 13,25
    Pride (in The Name Of Love) [The Unforgettable Fire] = 7,67
    New Year’s Day [War] = 6,41
    Desire [Rattle And Hum] = 4,55
    Vertigo [How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb] = 4,31
    All I Want Is You [Rattle And Hum] = 3,79

    Like you can see, the top 3 is very predictable!

    If you have any question/remarks about the method/calculation I used to obtained these numbers, I will be pleased to answer you.
    Please keep going with this great blog, it’s very instructive for all fans of music and numbers we are!


  3. hello MJD and Hernàn, your site is fantastic, wonderful, but I’d like to know the CSPC analysis of artists such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Eagles, Abba, Bee Gees, Queen, AC / DC, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, The Who , Iron Maiden, Van Halen, The Doors, R.E.M., Kiss, Bon Jovi, Pearl Jam, Dire Straits, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Bryan Adams, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley.

  4. Sorry, I forgot to write and mention bands like Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, The Beach Boys, The Police, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Journey, Def Leppard, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Scorpions, Depeche Mode, Oasis, Duran Duran, Chicago, Santana, Foreigner, Boston, CSNY (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), Supertamp, The Clash, Steve Miller Band, the Doobie Brothers, Rush, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blondie, ZZ Top, Toto, Foo Fighters, The Supremes ,, Sade, One Direction, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Yes, Maroon 5, A-Ha, New Kids On The Block, Boyz II Men, The Cranberries, N Sync, TLC, Offspring, Simply Red, Smashing Pumpkins, Dixie Chicks, Creed , Ace Of Base, Alabama, The Corrs, No Doubt, Spice Girls, Jackson 5 / The Jacksons, Linkin Park, Nickelback, Black Eyed Peas, Radiohead, Evanescence, Kings Of Leon, Backstreet Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, Simple Minds, Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, Jefferson Airplane, Talking Heads, Traffic, Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, Heart, Spandau Ballet, The Carpenters, America, The Cure, INXS, Imagine Dragons, Slipknot, Blink-182, Faith No More, Europe, Roxette, REO Speedwagon, Kansas, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang, Destiny’s Child, Muse, Take That, Daft Punk, OutKast, OneRepublic, The Black Keys, Mumford & Sons.
    it is true that there are many groups but I would really like to know the CSPC analysis of the artists that I mentioned before and all these groups that I mentioned now,I think I ask so much but I will be happy !!!

  5. Hello Anthony,

    Thank you very much for all the comments. All great suggestions.

    No doubt, all those acts will eventully be analysed in full detail very soon. Some (Elvis Presley) will be more more difficult than others (say Mumford & Sons). But they will all be treated. Stay tuned.

    In the next few days, for example, Celine Dion and Enrique Iglesias are coming. And all the others are great suggestions!

    Keep visiting Chartmasters.

  6. Hi dear friend Hernàn and MJD !!!!

    Can you please post the detail per country for U2’s best of 1980-1990, best of 19990-2000, wide awake in america, U2 18 singles, under a blood red sky ?
    Thank you very much in advance!
    then this week Do you analyze some singer or group ?

  7. Hello Anthony!
    Pending an answer from MJD or Hernán, perhaps can you visit this website to get some figures:


    This site is MJD’s previous one, and a lot of figures are available here. The estimations you will find are not up to date (I guess between 2009 and 2012, depending on the artist), but it is very interesting and a lot of artists have been studied there.

    The next artists posted will be Billy Joel and Bob Dylan.

  8. Hello dear Anthony Blanchard

    Thank you so much dear Anthony Blanchard, in fact, I know very well the old site “fan of music”, but I was wondering around the most recent updates of the U2 CSPC analysis. Do you also work or collaborate with Hernàn and MJD ?

  9. Hi dear Anthony Blanchard !!!

    Well, so this week will be posted Billy Joel and Bob Dylan. Will there also be posted some group ? maybe The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Pink Floyd, AC/DC , Eagles.

  10. Hi dears friends !!!

    I ask again apologize for my insistence and repetitive questions, I would just like to know how you have applied the album streaming Rattle and hum in which there is absence of songs such as “love rescue me”. I hope you accept my apology, that I can publish again new messages and I hope you answer me soon !!!

  11. Why do you have not approved my post ? I think I asked the precise corrections, the absence of the stream of 4 songs and also add Innocence + Experience: Live In Paris (DVD) !!!

    1. Hi Anthony,

      Your previous posts weren’t automatically approved quite simply because you used different emails addresses. Just like in the past, you keep on asking again and again and again for the same stuff, with no patience, as if people were at your disposal. We are not. Plus, several tracks you request are not available at Spotify while the I+E DVD was just released when the article was posted with no info available about its sales. When you ask something, just wait for an answer, every repeated message will be moved to spam.

  12. I didnt know U2 was this big. But Celine Dion should be able to outsell them once her upcoming english album is released, prolly this year or early next year.

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