CSPC: The Rolling Stones Popularity Analysis

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The Rolling Stones Career CSPC Results


So, after checking all figures, how many overall album sales equivalent each Rolling Stones album achieved? Well, at this point we barely need to do the addition of all figures defined all over this article!

In the following table, all categories display figures that way, e.g. in equivalent album sales. For example, Aftermath singles released in digital format sold the equivalent of 855,000 albums – 5,700,000 downloads with a 10 to 1,5 weighting.

As a reminder:

  • Studio Album: sales of the original album
  • Other Releases: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album
  • Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (ratio 3/10)
  • Download Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10)
  • Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500)

Their number of 10 million sellers climbs from 1 in pure album sales to 9 when factoring in all formats and compilation sales generated. At 18,3 million, Some Girls is their fourth most successful album only in spite of being the highest seller on its own. Initially benefiting from better market environment in comparison to its predecessors, the album got matched by Sticky Fingers, Let It Bleed and Aftermath due to the immense number of compilations each one is responsible of. From 21,8 million to 19,7 million, that’s a ferocious fight for the top spot that those albums are engaged on.

In fact, the recent reissue of Sticky Fingers as late as in 2015 enabled it to be their top album but digital results are more favorable to Let It Bleed which may ultimately take over the lead, likely about 50 years after their releases.

The most surprising result is maybe Exile On Main St which ranks only 9th overall. Their only classic album that misses a truly iconic hit, this album was cannibalized way less by compilations than its contemporary albums. This explains why the 2010 reissue was so successful – it contributes in 1,3 million of the album 8,1 million pure album sales – as there was more room for sales than for other LPs which saw their singles used up to saturation point.

Studio album sales create the illusion that the band later albums have been as successful as their 1965-1981 classics. Let display the same results in graphical view to better understand what happened:

As you can see, blue bars representing studio album sales are fairly stable, including for later albums. From the album Undercover though bars are almost entirely blue. Those albums enjoyed an album market much, much healthier than their past records, which makes it look like they have been just as successful. When checking the global Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept (CSPC) results, we are able to prove what happens to be obvious for the band followers – their 1965-1981 years are arguably much more popular than anything else.

While as many as 9 albums from that period top 10 million, 7 of which are well past 15 million, the remaining 16 albums are all under 7 million creating a true hole between the big ones and the rest of the band’s catalog.

The most striking conclusion though is the overall value of that catalog. Up to an unbelievable 237,1 million total equivalent album sales, the Rolling Stones position among the all-time greats of the music industry is legitimate as it can be.

Among all artists studied so far, only Madonna performed better. The gap of 9 million between both artists isn’t even impossible to fill though especially as the rock band ongoing catalog appeal is much bigger. Their new album Blue & Lonesome will try to add its share of sales as well to catch the original diva. Without that extra help, the Rolling Stones’ total is already some 40-ish million ahead of acts as massive as Led Zeppelin, U2 or Celine Dion.

Do not forget to check our amazing lists posted inside the CSPC: Data Collector which includes the full listing of all CSPC results compiled so far to better gauge their position in the history of the music industry.

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

Sources: IFPI, Spotify, Chartmasters.org.

14 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.

    1. This is true, but by this time next year Queen would have over taken them again just through the streaming differences alone.

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