Understanding: Music Clubs #1 – Janet Jackson, Celine Dion


B) Impact on artists album sales

If we put together both facts, that Clubs represented 10% of the market and were excluded from Soundscan figures / Charts, then the solution is simple,  we need to add 10% sales for all albums of all artists. Wait! It isn’t that easy. While all large retailers franchises sell pretty much the same albums, with the same ones being the main sellers, it isn’t true at all for Clubs. Below is a list of key differences between popular albums at retailers and on Clubs.

1. New Releases

To avoid conflicts with retailers, Clubs applied a 6-months waiting rule for new albums, later revised to 3 months. It means when an album sold several millions within’ 3 months during the 90s, it still sold no copy on Clubs during the same timeframe. The consequence of that is a distorted reflection of sales on official charts. To make it clearer, here is the US Top 5 Album Chart of March, 20, 1999.

01 226,391 TLC – Fanmail
02 201,000 Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation Of
03 198,204 Eminem – The Slim Shady LP
04 178,000 Britney Spears …Baby One More Time
05 154,000 Shania Twain – Come On Over

Albums from TLC, Eminem and Britney Spears got released a few weeks before this ranking publication. In the other side, both Lauryn Hill and Shania Twain albums were issued various months before and both, as we will see, were huge sellers on Clubs. The most likely scenario although impossible to certify is that The Miseducation Of should have been #1 that week and Come On Over sitting inside the Top 3.

10 thoughts on “Understanding: Music Clubs #1 – Janet Jackson, Celine Dion”

  1. Hi MJD, great article. Thanks for explaining this to us. Music club sales have always been so confusing to me but I’m glad you cleared it up.

    Do you have music club figures for Britney Spears and Madonna?

  2. Of course everybody is waiting for a detailed article on Mariah Carey as her album sales via music clubs remain one of the huge mysteries of the chart debate in several music forums.

    It would be both helpful and a great contribution to the debate if you granted the world an insightful view in Mariah’s history concerning music clubs, especially since she has often been accused of having “fake diamond” albums as both Music Box and Daydream are quite a bit off the 10 million mark on SoundScan.

    I hope you dedicate her a good bit of your time.

    I hope her comprising article is also yet to come.

  3. This is a very good article, thank you! As music clubs mainly targeted a 30+ year-old audience, I wouldn’t be surprised if many easy-listening/jazz/classical music/country singers got to sell high amounts of records with those clubs whereas they were not big sellers in traditional record stores (especially at a time when Billboard record charts only ranked the music sold in big cities). Do you have any information about those over-looked artists ?

  4. I wonder if Janet’s catalog will ever be recertified… she is more than 10 platinum behind of what should be… such a shame.

  5. Hi MJD! I would like to ask how do you come to the conclusion of Janet Jackson’s Control and Rhythm Nation 1814 selling 7m and 8,1m copies in the US respectively?

    The only information we have are SoundScan figures for sales after 1991, their out-of-date certification (5 and 6 times platinum) and their BMG club sales, which are probably already included within their certifications. As a result, can you explain to me how you managed to conclude that they both sold 2m above their certifications?

    Thank You!

    1. Hello Raffi,

      The huge majority of Club sales started to be allowed by RIAA rules from 1994 only, majors weren’t certifying them before. Thus, both Control and RN1814 certifications do not include their BMG sales. To best estimate their sales in an easy way, you then need to sum last certification + full BMG sales + Soundscan sales since last certification minus excess shipment from certification time.

      1. Question MJD,

        What if their labels are late with their certifications? What if Janet’s albums are certified 6 times platinum with 6.7 million shipped? How can certs determine sales?

        1. Hi Fan!

          On some articles I mentioned how fundamental to understand which certifications are date-specific or not. One needs to check the artist other albums or the label remaining albums to study if the cert was specifically targeted to that album or if it was a global audit, on which case the album could have been anywhere from its new certification to the next one.

          Luckily for us most big albums had various certifications over time. The idea is to define a sales timeline which fits with all of them and checking which certification came ASAP after the criteria was reached, then we can use it to gauge remaining awards.

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