CSPC: Billy Joel Popularity Analysis

BILLY JOEL Career CSPC Results


So, after checking all figures, how many overall album sales equivalent each Billy Joel album achieved? Well, at this point we barely need to do the addition of all figures defined all over this article!

In the following table, all categories display figures that way, e.g. in equivalent album sales. For example, Piano Man singles released in digital format sold the equivalent of 600,000 albums – 4,000,000 downloads with a 10 to 1,5 weighting.

As a reminder:

  • Studio Album: sales of the original album
  • Other Releases: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album
  • Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (ratio 3/10)
  • Download Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10)
  • Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500)

This is pretty much it. The Stranger, definitely his most iconic album, reinforces his status with a final CSPC’s total of 25,1 million. A total where it gets thanks to a strong 9,8 million equivalent albums sold via other formats as the album’s pure sales are on 15,3 million.

An Innocent Man registers a huge jump too, as it goes from 13 million pure album sales to 22,5 million with CSPC’s sales coming from other formats.

52nd Street originally sold 13,3 million. While this one added several more million sales from remaining formats, the final CSPC’s total didn’t match results of the two albums previously mentioned. Yet, 16,7 million is nothing to feel shy about. Glass Houses has similar results.

But the most impressive case is, without any doubt, Piano Man. At 6,7 million pure albums sales, it ranks as the artist 7th top seller. Still, mostly thanks to the song Piano Man, it gets to as high as 18,4 million once generated sales through compilations and the likes get factored in, even surpassing 52nd Street in spite of original album sales being only half of those of that one. With lower pure album sales than Storm Front, River Of Dreams and Glass Houses, its CSPC total crushes them all putting Piano Man as Billy Joel 3rd most popular album. This example is the perfect illustration of the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept with pure album sales of a record not fully representing its real popularity, an issue fixed thanks to our approach.

Storm Front shows an enduring appeal on the back of We Didn’t Start Fire, one of his most famous tracks. That song, combined with its great representation on the Greatest Hits III album, produced a jump from 7,9 million pure albums sales to a more fittingly strong 12,9 million CSPC’s sales.

Most of the other albums also managed to double or triple their respective original pure sales.

You may be wondering about Billy Joel‘s overall CSPC? It is a gigantic 146,7 million equivalent albums when everything is weighted accordingly. That is the final number. The number that makes this act one of the biggest of all-time, further proved by the average sales per album, nothing less than 12 million, a tally not many acts -with a catalogue of that size- can beat. As a comparison, among already studied acts with 10 or more albums, U2 is up to 14,7 million per album, Madonna and Celine Dion both 14,5 million, Metallica is on 13,7 million and Fleetwood Mac is at an average of 7,9 million. Those averages though are often inflated by one gigantic sellers, while Billy Joel has been incredibly consistent. Indeed, his median is 12,1 million, a figure only topped by Madonna at 12,2 million while Metallica is at 11,8 million, U2 at 11,7 million, Celine Dion at 7,7 million and Fleetwood Mac at 2,2 million all drop below the artist we checked today. This shows that indeed Billy Joel is up there with the very biggest acts ever.

Do not forget to check our amazing lists posted inside the CSPC: Data Collector which includes the full listing of all CSPC results compiled so far to better gauge his position in the history of the music industry.

I hope you enjoyed it, as usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

Sources: IFPI, Spotify, Chartmasters.org.

8 thoughts on “CSPC: Billy Joel Popularity Analysis”

  1. Great article, as usual. Just to let you know, there’s a typo on the Glass Houses page in regards to the US figure, it’s listed as 760,000.

  2. Hi Hernán! I have to say you did an amazing job on this article! Billy Joel’s sales are more impressive than i expected!

    However, I want to point out some certain mistake(s) you made. On page 8, for your estimation on Glass Houses, you have the US sales at 760,000, but the worldwide sales at 11,000,000? I’m guessing there’s a zero missing on that US figure. Otherwise, the remaining millions must come from Asia and Africa, which i find doubtful.

    Also, on page 15, the The Stranger album’s singles sold 5,55m, a 1,665m album equivalent than 1,65m

    Anyway, keep up the good work! Looking forward for the next article!

  3. Thanks both for your fixes!

    Raffi, you should get some work in data mining area, your ability to find out such specific errors impresses me 😉

  4. Hi dears MJD and Hernàn !!!

    congratulations again for the website and also for CSPC analysis of Billy Joel, I know that I will also be analyzed the new Nobel Prize for Literature (Bob Dylan), I am very happy, but I’m very curious to see also analyzed groups like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Pink Floyd, Eagles, Abba, Bee Gees, Aerosmith, AC / DC, Bon Jovi. I hope these groups will be analyzed very early because I would like to note the various differences for CSPC analysis and see who has sold more records !!!!

  5. Very interesting. I would like to ask if you have more details concerning his sales in Japan?
    Where does the figures of his first lp come from?
    How do you estimate the sales of his LPs?

    I noticed that some of his back catalogue albums were certified without charting like “52 nd street” or “the stranger” and even the “Honesty” single re-issue from 1990.

    Any explanation why he is so popular in Japan?

  6. These reports look really cool- but is there any way to view them on one page, rather than having to click thirty smaller pages?
    Thanks either way!

  7. Hi MJD and Hernán! I would like to ask you about Billy Joel’s sales.

    According to your album breakdowns, Billy Joel sold an impressive number of albums in Japan. Also, when i deduct the worldwide total of his albums from his heydays to the countries listed, there is a remaining 1-2m+ in sales, and I’m guessing a majority of those sales come from South East Asia.

    What I’m asking is that could you provide a breakdown per album for his albums in Asia here in the comments section like you did with Britney Spears. Could you also tell me which countries in Asia did Billy Joel had good sales in? Also, how high would Billy Joel rank in the biggest selling international artist in Japan and Asia overall?

    Thank You!

  8. Hi Raffi!

    Sadly for such old albums and with someone like Billy Joel, who is covered nowhere near the likes Michael Jackson or Madonna, there is too little information to answer accurately your questions, we can only work out with proportions with markets.

    What I can confirm is that he was indeed widely popular all over Asia. Most of his albums went Platinum in Hong Kong while he was also as mentioned the first international artist ever to see his albums officially issued in China. I have read various articles from Southeast Asian coverage referring to him as a huge seller, although with no specific figure.

    Basically as a rough guide, the proportion would be 1 to 0,7 between Japan and rest of Asia. He is among the Top 10 international sellers ever in Japan.

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