France Album Sales: Mylène Farmer

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Avant Que L’Ombre… (2005) Era

If Mylène Farmer had some competition in late 80s like Patricia Kaas or Vanessa Paradis, she had long surpassed them thanks to her back-to-back-to-back-to-back million selling albums. Such a string of massively successful records can only set expectations incredibly high.

By 2005 the market collapse was already referenced a lot, but at 83 million albums sold for the year, it was still quite healthy. As a comparison, 40 million albums were sold in France in 2015 while in both 1995 and 1999, years on which the artist previous two albums got released 115 million albums were sold. A juggernaut as Mylène Farmer was the least likely to be impacted by the decrease in general sales as investments for what is named there valeurs sûres, e.g. safe bets, remain strong, artists suffering in such periods are newcomers instead. An other market-difference from the era of her previous album is how album sales were starting to get more and more frontloaded due to internet expansion which increased overall awareness of release dates and exploded pre-orders numbers.

Starting with over 136,000 copies sold as per IFOP – incomplete by around 20% for the artist records at that period – within’ its first week, the album easily debuted at #1. By week 2 the set was down to under 43,000 units, a 70% drop that appears standard as of 2016 but was quite drastic back in 2005. That quick drop in sales was due to the lack of impact lead single Fuck Them All had. Entering at #2 thanks to fans collecting her records, the song dropped out of the top 20 after only four weeks. Then, it jumped to #3 thanks to fans again due to a limited edition release before dropping back to #18 the following week. That situation was a trademark of future years for the superstar – highly dedicated fanbase and lack of interest from the general public.

Unlike previous albums, Avant Que L’Ombre… failed to achieve one solid hit. Q.I., Redonne-Moi and L’Amour N’Est Rien singles all peaked at #7 on their proper debut week before dropping down very fast. Ironically, at the same period Moby single Slipping Away (Crier La Vie) featuring Mylène Farmer was a crossover smash hitting #1, but it wasn’t part of Avant Que L’Ombre… On its side, this album was out of the top 10 after only 8 weeks, three less than Mylénium Tour, the singer previous album although it was a live one.

In the same way, Avant Que L’Ombre… à Bercy, the accompanying live album which was now traditional after each Mylène Farmer studio set to exploit her dedicated fanbase as much as possible, was short-lived. Debuting at #1 in December, the album completely vanished from the Top 200 after 18 weeks.

In spite of those disappointing chart performances for the red-hair singer standards, the studio album still sold 525,000 units by the end of 2007 while the live LP moved 160,000 copies.

Top 3 Most Streamed Tracks on Spotify
  1. L’Amour N’Est Rien – 296,000
  2. Fuck Them All – 290,000
  3. Q.I. – 246,000

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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