CSPC: The Rolling Stones Popularity Analysis

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Original Album Sales – Comments

1964 The Rolling Stones – 2,500,000
1964 12 X 5 – 1,700,000
1965 The Rolling Stones No. 2 – 1,000,000
1965 The Rolling Stones, Now! – 1,300,000
1965 Out of Our Heads – 2,850,000
1965 December’s Children (And Everybody’s) – 1,300,000
1966 Aftermath – 3,900,000
1967 Between the Buttons – 2,200,000
1967 Their Satanic Majesties Request – 2,450,000
1968 Beggars Banquet – 4,000,000
1969 Let It Bleed – 7,000,000
1971 Sticky Fingers – 9,350,000
1972 Exile on Main St – 8,100,000
1973 Goats Head Soup – 6,350,000
1974 It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll – 3,700,000
1976 Black and Blue – 4,100,000
1978 Some Girls – 11,300,000
1980 Emotional Rescue – 5,700,000
1981 Tattoo You – 8,500,000
1983 Undercover – 3,400,000
1986 Dirty Work – 3,850,000
1989 Steel Wheels – 5,600,000
1994 Voodoo Lounge – 6,400,000
1997 Bridges to Babylon – 4,700,000
2005 A Bigger Bang – 2,550,000

Some Girls is the band top selling studio album at 11,3 million copies sold. Nevertheless, the is barely one tenth of the massive 113,8 million units sold cumulatively by their studio albums.

At their beginning, just like the Beatles, the band issued similar but differently titled and packaged albums. I merged their debut US record The Rolling Stones (England’s Newest Hit Makers) with their UK debut The Rolling Stones due to their very similar track list and  identical role in the band discography. Several following albums got UK-axed or US-axed releases, which explain their lower sales as they weren’t available globally. In fact, the only four albums under 2 million units are very exactly the four albums that weren’t issued worldwide.

This concludes on an amazing fact. In spite of topping 10 million only one time during their career, the band sold well past 2 million units of each and every album they issued everywhere. This may not seem like that much but during the 60s the market was awfully low, each million copies sold was a miracle. As an example, 1965 effort Out Of Our Heads appears with a modest 2,85 million copies sold. In reality it was everything except modest. In the US, the album was a huge #2 set blocked only by the Beatles. In the UK, it was an impressive 8 weeks #1 album. It managed exactly the same performance in Germany and was huge everywhere.

If the market was so low at that point it was because the population was lower, that not everyone had record players but also because the main format of that era was the single. Let review within’ the next pages how the band performed on that category.

13 thoughts on “CSPC: The Rolling Stones Popularity Analysis”

  1. Hi everyone!

    Here are the 20 Rolling Stones’ tracks that have generated the most sales:
    1 1966 Paint It Black [Aftermath] – 15,370,000
    2 1965 (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction [Out Of Our Heads] – 14,630,000
    3 1981 Start Me Up [Tattoo You] – 13,570,000
    4 1968 Sympathy For The Devil [Beggars Banquet] – 12,260,000
    5 1978 Beast Of Burden [Some Girls] – 11,780,000
    6 1973 Angie [Goats Head Soup] – 10,680,000
    7 1971 Brown Sugar [Sticky Fingers] – 9,440,000
    8 1969 Gimme Shelter [Let It Bleed] – 9,350,000
    9 1971 Wild Horses [Sticky Fingers] – 8,150,000
    10 1969 Honky Tonk Women [Let It Bleed] – 6,520,000
    11 1969 Jumpin’ Jack Flash [Orphan] – 4,900,000
    12 1969 You Can’t Always Get What You Want [Let It Bleed] – 4,240,000
    13 1972 Tumbling Dice [Exile On Main St.] – 3,510,000
    14 1980 Emotional Rescue [Emotional Rescue] – 3,240,000
    15 1978 Miss You [Some Girls] – 3,140,000
    16 1967 Ruby Tuesday [Between The Buttons] – 3,070,000
    17 1967 She’s A Rainbow [Their Satanic Majesties Request] – 3,020,000
    18 1986 Harlem Shuffle [Dirty Work] – 2,870,000
    19 1974 It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It) [It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll] – 2,700,000
    20 1967 Let’s Spend The Night Together [Between The Buttons] – 2,560,000

    There is a lot of legendary tracks in the previous list! 6 of them are above the 10 millions equivalent sales threshold, that is the best total for all the artists studied. The previous record was held by Madonna and Guns N Roses, with 5.

    As said in the article, the most prosperous period of the band is 1965-1981. Only one song was released later, “Harlem Shuffle”, ranked #18.

    Here are the 10 biggest tracks of the 60’s:
    1 1966 Rolling Stones – Paint It Black [Aftermath] – 15,370,000
    2 1965 Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction [Out Of Our Heads] – 14,630,000
    3 1969 Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love [Led Zeppelin II] – 14,190,000
    4 1965 Bob Dylan – Like a Rolling Stone [Highway 61 Revisited] – 13,910,000
    5 1968 Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil [Beggars Banquet] – 12,260,000
    6 1969 Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter [Let It Bleed] – 9,350,000
    7 1969 Led Zeppelin – Ramble On [Led Zeppelin II] – 9,240,000
    8 1969 Led Zeppelin – Good Times Bad Times [Led Zeppelin I] – 9,020,000
    9 1964 Bob Dylan – The Times They Are a-Changin’ [The Times They Are a-Changin’] – 9,000,000
    10 1969 Rolling Stones – Honky Tonk Women [Let It Bleed] – 6,520,000

    Admittedly, bands like The Beatles have not been studied yet, but it is still incredible that the 2 most successful tracks of this decade are Stones’ ones, And 3 other of their songs are part of the top10 too!

    If you have any questions / remarks, do not hesitate to let a comment!

  2. Hi dear MJD !!!

    Congratulations again for the website and also for CSPC analysis The Rolling Stones.
    Your article about them is amazing, superb, wonderful, I really have great esteem and consideration for you, you are my hero, with this analysis you’ve outdone yourself.
    The experts of RIA in your comparison are little informat, you are more ‘wise, all-knowing them on actual sold data records sold many artists.
    Then I would be curious to know which group you will try to analyze after the “mythical and legendary” The Rolling Stones, I hope a group among the various The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Queen, Eagles, AC/DC and Bee Gees !!!

  3. another shocker for me is the fact that the stones have no huge album really, just a huge amount of releases. must have been difficult getting all the data about them!

    1. Hello Pat!

      It really doesn’t help either to get a massive album to have so many records out. The casual buyer doesn’t know where to start and ends up just picking up a compilation. Had they never released a complitation their cumulative sales as of today would be higher no doubt. Still, so many albums on 15-20 million overall is rather impressive!

  4. Hi dear MJD !!!

    Thanks for allowing me to publish new posts or messages.
    I have noticed that on global albums chart compiled by Mediatraffic it says Blue & Lonesome of the Rolling Stones debuted in first place with 477,000 copies.
    I would like to know from you if they are really copies sold or imaginary numbers.

    1. Hello Anthony,

      I don’t mind answering a couple of times a question but as soon as it disturbs other users navigation I can’t let it go. You need to think about a Shakira fan reading the Shakira analysis, seeing a new comment on it that he wanna know and then he reads about the Rolling Stones or U2, that’s annoying. It’s okay to request one artist at the end of a comment that relates to the article, but going off topic all the time with the same question that already got answered is not. I have no problem in answering all questions article-related but queries to know what comes next will be ignored to grant other users interaction won’t be disturbed.

      As for your question, Freddy who administrates Mediatraffic can only see the same information of anyone else – sales in the US, Canada, France, UK and Japan. Everything else are just random guesses, mostly poorly educated and often biased towards some specific artists. What’s safe to say is that the album surely shipped a million units already by now. We will likely have no official information before April report from IFPI yet.

      About U2 streams, in fact a couple of songs got cut involuntarily, I’ll adjust it.

  5. It would be nice with The Rolling Stones CSPC update. Including the latest album “Blue & Lonesome” The Stones would have passed QUEEN in the top, and that’s important IMHO.

  6. The Rolling Stones released a brand new (compilation)album “On Air” on 1. December 2017. The album was quite successful on the charts (US Top Rock Albums (Billboard) 4, New Zealand Albums 4, Dutch Albums 8, UK Albums 27..). So, including both “Blue & Lonesome” and “On Air”, The Stones would have higher CSPC then Queen. And quite likely higher CSPC then Madonna too.

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