CSPC: Aaliyah Popularity Analysis

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Various singers have many myths floating around them. One such typical case is R&B Princess Aaliyah. Already owner of a very loyal fan base before her dramatic passing in 2001, at just 22 years of age, made her the icon of many.

Artistically, she had been widely acclaimed way before her death. In spite of issuing her debut album Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number at barely 15, critics praised her efforts right from the start. The public was soon to follow with the star in the making’s first single Back & Forth climbing the US Hot 100 all the way to #5.

A meteoric rise to fame, media on her side, and an iconic status… surely Aaliyah must have sold bucket loads. Well, everything is not always as it may seem, especially for her. Out of all the myths largely repeated over the internet about her sales, we will clean things up a bit today to restore some accuracy. Thanks to the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept, we will be able to perfectly visualize her real popularity without being corrupted by urban legends.

As a reminder for users who are not yet familiar with the CSPC idea, you do not need to worry. It is quite simple to understand as it only consists of merging every sales format an artist has been getting and attributing them to respective studio albums. We will start by focusing on raw data, setting how much each Aaliyah album sold. Then, we will check sales of each track from those albums in each format – physical, download and streaming – and weight them to value these figures on a par with album sales. To complete the study, we will study sales of all compilations, live albums and music videos she released. Once all the raw data is set, we will only need to apply appropriate weighting to get the overall picture of the legendary R&B singer’s career results.

Let’s go!

13 thoughts on “CSPC: Aaliyah Popularity Analysis”

  1. Oh My God! MJD, I knew you were gonna do a CSPC analysis on Baby Girl, but not this soon! Thank you so much!!!

    I would like to comment on some few things though. Firstly, about her album sales, do you mind posting her Soundscan sales? I can’t find them anywhere! I only know she sold 8m albums through Soundscan back in 2006. Also, her overall album sales are quite low, though still impressive considering the audience she was catering to.

    For her digital sales, MJD, would you mind giving us your most logical estimation on how her songs from her OIAM and self-titled album would have performed if they were available for downloads.

    Finally, i would like to point out that you made a little mistake with the I Care 4 U page. You used the One In A Million album cover for that page.

    Once again, thank you so much, as well as Hernán and Anthony for your hard work and dedication. Looking forward for your future projects!

    1. Hi Raffi!

      Hehe copy/paste spotted I guess! The cover is now correctly updated 🙂

      Her 8,1 million soundscan sales are spread as 1,4 / 2,4 / 2,6 / 1,7 million in chronological order. The first two albums got incorrectly credited with 3m Soundscan sales each when Billboard posted that figure in 2001, but that tally was in reality the combined total for both. All those Soundscan sales are valid as of 2006, after which the albums pretty much stopped selling due to lack of availability.

      Had her catalog been widely available as for other artists, realistically she would have:
      – sold roughly 2 million more albums Worldwide
      – sold in the 2 to 2,5 million range of OIAM songs in downloads and 3 to 4 million for Aaliyah songs, plus a bit more Orphan songs
      – been in the 150-200,000 range of equivalent album sales for OIAM from streaming and 250,000 units for Aaliyah, plus a bit more Orphan units
      – been at about 3,9 / 6,1 / 7,1 / 4,2 million CSPC sales for each 3 studio albums plus Orphan one, so over 21 million in total

      Obviously this can’t be verified as it just hasn’t happen, but giving available indicators that sounds like a very good gauge of what it would have been.

  2. Hello. I’m trying to understand what you did here. First, you’re claiming that she has exactly 292,331,997 comprehensive streams between all her releases (page 9 & 10). Then, suddenly in your next table (page 11) you’re claiming she jumped from that figure to 3,603,280,000 streams. A jump of no less than 3,310,948,003, figure that seems completely off considering her actual stats in Spotify and Youtube, so where exactly did those +3 billion streams come from? I think that was a typo since in your final CSPC results chart you only show the equivalent album sales for the original ~292 million streams figure. Anyhow, you should fix it because there’s people using your chart as source to mislead people into thinking that she has over 3 billion streams, which is obviously a huge lie.

    1. Hi Havok!

      The problem with Aaliyah’s catalog is that bar her debut album, her other albums are not available on any digital platform, including Spotify. That is why her debut album is her best showing on that platform, while the other albums had minimal success there due to their unavailability.

      The 229m streams you mention are Spotify streams multiply by a certain ratio, representing the streams on all possible streaming platforms like Apple Music. For Aaliyah, the total could be higher, as her catalog is a mess there, but it could also be lower, due to its unavailability on other platforms.

      As for the compilation part, its main focus is to assign the sales of each compilation album to its parent album as they cannibalizes the catalog sales of studio albums. For the majority of artists, we use Spotify streams to gauge the popularity of each studio album on a compilation album. However, for Aaliyah, since her latter albums are unavailable, this would give an unfair advantage to her debut, thus it would not be able to accurately reflect each album’s popularity.

      To solve this solution, we used Last.fm, a streaming site that has all of Aaliyah’s catalog available so we can assign sales of compilations to each studio album involved.

      1. Hello, Raffi. Thanks for taking the time to answer.

        I get that, I read the notes in the article and I understand what and why you did that. My question is where exactly is that +3 billion figure coming from? It cannot be from last.fm either because her total scrobbles (plays) are only at 13.2 million. Also, I wouldn’t say last.fm is a streaming service/site, it’s more of a tracking tool. Anyway, like I said you should consider changing those stats because there are people using your work as source to claim Aaliyah has 3 billion streams, when that’s a fallacy.

        1. Hi havok!

          I checked out Aaliyah’s page on Last.fm, and you’re right! The streams posted on this article is way higher than that listed in the website. I’ll ask MJD to clarify on this!

        2. Hi again havok!

          I asked MJD about this issue and apparently, all the songs’ total were multiplied by 1000 because when using Spotify figures, MJD and the team rounds up Spotify figures in the closest thousands (eg. 1m to 1000) This was mixed using in the calculation of streams on last.fm. MJD will probably edit this soon. Thanks for your contribution!

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