Pulitzer Prize, US Presidential Medal of Freedom, French Légion D’Honneur, Spanish Principe de Asturias… only the Nobel Prize was missing to the immaculate collection of awards received by Bob Dylan. I don’t even mention the infinite list of purely musical prizes.
Exactly 50 years after publishing the cult Blonde On Blonde, 40 years after the global smash Desire, 10 years after his Rolling Stone Magazine Album of the Year Modern Times, the iconic singer-songwriter turned out to be the new recipient of the most coveted prize in the world a few days ago. In the meantime, he just keeps touring as nothing happened. At 75, Bob Dylan printed his name all over the music history. The godfather and the main origin of the Rock branch that exploded thanks to the Beatles to become the main music genre for decades, he dropped nothing less than 37 studio albums. As it wasn’t enough, he also released a dozen of live albums and as many bootlegs. Plus, his discography includes more than a quarter of century of compilations. All those records came out from 1962 to 2016.
All those numbers and awards are outstanding but Bob Dylan has never been famous for being a huge selling act. Among solo male acts Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley are the firsts to be quoted. Even thinking more about it, the general public will name Elton John, Phil Collins, Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley before him. We can add Julio Iglesias, Robbie Williams, Neil Diamond, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Garth Brooks and more.
Where does Bob Dylan sits in comparison to all those top selling acts? With his sales being spread over so many studio albums, which ones surface on top after factoring in all compilations and live albums?
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 Bob Dylan 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 he dropped to distribute those sales into studio albums. Once all the raw data is set, we will only need to apply appropriate weighting to get the overall picture of the rock legend career results.