France Album Sales: Mylène Farmer

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Ainsi Soit Je… (1988) Era

By 1987, Mylène Farmer had already started to build her fanbase with a strong and loyal following, she hadn’t attracted the masses still. This issue was solved a few months later.

Some weeks after Tristana, the last single of the debut album, dropped out of the Top 50 Singles Chart, a new song came out. It was Sans Contrefaçon, the leading single from the upcoming second album, Ainsi Soit Je…

As controversial as ever – she claims to be a boy in the song lyrics and video – Mylène Farmer was all over FM airwaves by 1987 holiday season. Sans Contrefaçon became her third Top 10 hit but it was arguably bigger than the previous two with a #2 peak and 10 weeks inside the Top 10. The album obviously benefited from both the growing fanbase and the single smash to debut at #8. Both Sans Contrefaçon and then the title track supported the album during various months. For 28 weeks, the LP never dropped below #26 with a #6 peak on its 5th/6th frame – charts were still bi-weekly at the time.

Thanks to this consistency the album was targeting a Platinum record by the end of its run, e.g. 300,000 sales. Her first album made the artist some kind of cult underground star. The first singles of her new record enabled her to step up into a real music star. The third single was going to improve her league even more to reach nationwide super stardom. It was Pourvu Qu’Elles Soient Douces issued in September 1988. This ground-breaking five weeks #1 became instantly cult. Much more than just a hit single, the song pushed the album 23-11-5-4-3-1 during the last quarter to top the Christmas chart.

After some 500,000 sales during 1988, the train kept going strong in 1989. Two more singles came out, #10 hit Sans Logique and #16 single A Quoi Je Sers. The lower singles peaks were due to the album sales to date being higher and higher, reducing the number of available buyers. In fact, they were still very convincing by dominating radios playlists and maintaining the album inside the Top 25 during the complete year of 1989, including 28 frames inside the Top 10. Such stability concluded on a Diamond award celebrated in November 14 of that year.

It took until December 1989 before the album started to lose traction. It was due to the release of En Concert, a live record appearing as some kind of early best of, reducing the catalog appeal of studio albums. Mylène Farmer was so hyped at the time that even a live album like that one went 2xGold for 200,000 units shipped within’ a month. This record peaked at #9 in January, it sold an estimated 225,000 by the end of 1990, a time by which Ainsi Soit Je… was on 1,2 million.

A last word must be said about Cendres De Lune. As it had to be expected, this previous album was boosted by the success of the new one, even debuting on charts in April 1989 some three years after its initial release. Peaking at #39, the record doubled its sales from April 1988 to the end of 1989.

Top 3 Most Streamed Tracks on Spotify
  1. Sans Contrefaçon – 1,421,000
  2. Pourvu Qu’Elles Soient Douces – 609,000
  3. Ainsi Soit Je – 279,000

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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