France Album Sales: Mylène Farmer

Cendres De Lune (1986) Era

After a couple of unsuccessful songs issued in 1984 and 1985, Polydor label still had a lot of faith in Mylène Farmer due to her strong potential. They invested huge amounts of money to release the music video of the song and were no wrong in doing so.

In April 1986, both the album Cendres De Lune and the single Libertine came out. As airplay started to climb, the video of the single was shot by career-long movie maker partner Laurent Boutonnat. Why do I mention that video so much? Quite simply because it was shot as a mini-movie of over 10 minutes which was premiered in Champs-Elysées theater with Mylène Farmer appearing at times fully naked on it. The buzz was created, the controversy was on and the career of the red-hair singer was started.

The fast word of mouth pushed the single all the way up to #10 in the last week of October. As seen in previous France Album Sales articles, it was truly hard to sell albums for newcomers in this country yet. In addition, the Top Album was barely a Top 20 chart which featured both Artist albums and Compilation albums. Thus, Cendres De Lune failed to reach the ranking. During 1987 pretty much the same scenario was reproduced. The album was newly released one year after the first version, adding the track Tristana. The video was huge, the single a #7 hit, the album still failed to chart.

This lack of information created a lot of myths around the album sales in latter years. There is some label-axed information though as in 1986 / 1987 Polydor were certifying its albums Gold like several ones from the Cure or Sting. Certainly coming close to the 100,000 units mark by the release of subsequent album a couple of years later, Cendres De Lune was effectively still under the milestone with an estimated 90,000 units.

Top 3 Most Streamed Tracks on Spotify
  1. Libertine – 518,000
  2. Tristana – 224,000
  3. Maman A Tort – 222,000

16 thoughts on “France Album Sales: Mylène Farmer”

  1. Hi dear MJD !!!

    Congratulations again for the website and also for the analysis carried for France Album Sales of Mylène Farmer.
    Then I would like to know if this week you analyze some singer or group, maybe you will analyze the CSPC of the Rolling Stones !!!

    1. Hello Anthony,

      I won’t kill the fun by saying who it concerns, but yes a CSPC analysis is ongoing! Not sure it will be of most interest for you as it is about a recent solo act 😉

      The Rolling Stones CSPC article will come out at the same time as their new album!

      1. Of course dear MJD, I believe will be analized one of Drake, Sia, Alicia Keys and Robbie Williams. Then I’m interested in all the artists that you analyze, it is true, I have my preferences for the groups and for the music of the 60 ‘, 70’, 80 ‘ but I am a lover of records sold for each artist as their own you !!!

  2. These articles are great. Thank you so much. Concerning the quantity of albums sold worldwide, I heard like 30 mio. Correct, possible ?

    1. Hello Florence!

      Thanks for your nice words! There is many legends about Mylène Farmer album sales in various countries like Japan but most of them are false. For example, in that specific country where she is supposed to be a superstar as per various French Medias, she never entered the Top 300 Album Chart.

      She did break into Russian market, but ironically that’s a small one, very few legal copies are sold there. Of course, there is French-speaking countries outsold France where she did sell some records. Innamoramento got certified for 200,000 units sold abroad in late 2001, when it had topped 1 million in France. If we follow that pattern that would mean about two and a half million sold elsewhere, while going deeper into analysis would provide better results, from 2 to 3 million is likely the correct ballpark.

      At 14-15 million, we are still very far from 30 million. Claims are often made on cumulative record sales yet. Adding 7 to 8 million singles – again, would require deeper analysis – a couple of million music videos plus digital sales plus duplicating all discs sales like Les Mots which is a 2CD set, we get close to 30 million overall. As I often stated though, while this is an efficient communication trick, I don’t think all sales of all formats are worth being added together without weighting properly each type of record.

  3. it is safe to say that she is the 2nd best selling female in france after celine dion right?
    btw off the top of your head how many male singers sold more than celine in france? i assume johnny hallyday, jean jacques goldman for sure, anyone else?

    1. Hi Pat!

      I assume you refer to album sales. Hallyday is safely ahead, Michel Sardou too. Then both Goldman and Cabrel are close enough to require additional study in order to rank them. If you include singles, the later has no chance though.

      Indeed, among female singers, Celine and Mylène are at 1/2 in terms of album sales!

      1. yes i was referring to albums and i thought of cabrel and sardou but didn’t think they would be close or in sardou’s case way ahead. i need to look at sardou’s discography closer. i can’t wait for their sales in france posts.
        man your work is fantastic, for anyone who loves numbers and putting numbers in perspective, this is heaven!!

    1. Hello Djouahra!

      I mentioned from 2 to 3 million, which isn’t exactly the same thing 😀

      She sold routinely 8-10% of her French sales in Belgium, some 3-5% is Switzerland and about the same in Germany / Netherlands / Scandinavia. Using the average for each area, this brings 17% of 12 million additional sales, which equals to slightly more than 2 million.

      Then, one need to consider her sales in Russia – some recent albums sold as much as 10% of their French sales there – and the few units she sold in the likes Canada or Japan. All in all, that will sum up to around 2,5 million. As it involves shares calculations rather than albums-specific estimates, I prefered sticking with a ballpark, e.g. 2 to 3 million 😉

  4. OMG big fan of Mylene here.. I’ve always wondered how she marketed herself and stayed relevant all these years especially 2006 onward as not much controversy has been issued from her-probably her loyal fans. But I was wondering if you could do an analysis on her former protege Alizee. Her debut single/ album was monster and her sophomore album did pretty fine but when she left the Farmer/ boutonnat machine- it was pretty much over.

    1. scratch that with Alizee-actually please do an analysis of Laurent Boutonnat- it seems as every French artist he in a sense creates turned to gold – Mylene, Nathalie Cardone, Alizee…

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