CSPC: Spice Girls Popularity Analysis

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Spice Girls 08

Digital Singles Sales

Let’s be honest – digital sales of the Spice Girls are bad. While Wannabe is a good seller at 2,4 million, which was to be expected given its immense popularity, the rest of their catalog moves very low numbers. It must be said that they are getting close to no airplay, only being remembered in TV programs covering past successes. As a whole, they sold only an estimated 5 million download tracks.

As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 1 ratio between one album and one digital single.

Spice (1996) – 350,000 equivalent albums

Wannabe – 2,400,000
Say You’ll Be There – 300,000
2 Become 1 – 400,000
Remaining tracks – 400,000

Spiceworld (1997) – 120,000 equivalent albums

Spice Up Your Life – 550,000
Stop – 250,000
Too Much – 125,000
Viva Forever – 200,000
Remaining tracks – 75,000

Forever (2000) – 40,000 equivalent albums

Holler – 100,000
Goodbye – 250,000
Remaining tracks – 50,000

Orphan – 10,000 equivalent albums

Remaining tracks – 100,000

26 thoughts on “CSPC: Spice Girls Popularity Analysis”

    1. Maybe they honored them in terms of albums + singles. Im not sure, but I believe DC must have sold a lot more singles than Spice Girls. Considering the fact that they have more singles than Spice Girls.

  1. I’m not an expert, but I think you’ve underestimated the success of spice girls. They were much more bigger than Backstreet Boys and Britney. I lived that time. But according to your data, Spice sold less than Millenium or Baby one more time. How?

    1. Hello Teen Pop,

      Living an era means nothing – the success of each artist is different in each country. A similar success in the same country will still bring different numbers too depending on which format took over.

      Album sales presented here involve no estimate, they are figures confirmed by EMI in their financial reports.

      About the Billboard link, it is completely irrelevant as it doesn’t depend on sales but on chart performances. Both Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys sold insane numbers in first weeks while the Spice Girls started slowly. Plus, the massive difference is that charts are based on Soundscan sales – as Spice Girls were on Virgin, their albums were not available on Music Clubs, which means 100% of their sales were accounted for. In the other side, Britney / BSB sold millions on Clubs.

      1. I had no idea. Why was the billboard so unfair? Did they have favoritism for certain record labels?

        And why was the decline of the spice girls so immediate? Maybe Britney and the Backstreet boys and Desteny Child were responsible?

        1. No they had no favoritism, they were only sticking with available information. Music Clubs weren’t reporting their sales to Soundscan so they couldn’t include them on their rankings. Then, they went by charts rather than by sales on their lists because they started decades before Soundscan even got introduced, when they started compiling rankings they had no sales figures, only sub-rankings from retailers to put together.

          By definition teen phenomenons are poised to be short-lived as teens get older within’ a few years. To keep on selling one needs to change of image – get sexy for females a la Britney with her 3rd album or Miley – or start selling to mature females for male singers – a la Take That. A girl group can hardly perform such a transition which is why breaking into solo acts was needed.

          1. Yes the RIAA accounts for all sales!

            The difference gets obvious with the examples you pointed out:
            – Baby One More Time 14xP (14 million)
            – Millennium 13xP
            – Spice 7xP

          2. MJD, do you really think its a wise decision to make teen pop star sounded more mature and looking more mature barely a few year into their career. If you look at Madonna back in the early 90s, she rely’s on sex image even more than when she started and immediately her fame started dropping. It wasn’t until she released frozen that she managed some rebound. The same could be said for Britney when she started exploring a little bit element of sex for her third album, her album sales started dropping massively. However, if you look at Taylor Swift. She never changed her music by that much for a very2 long time, and as a result she managed to retain her fans for a really2 long time. I feel like record labels as well as artists, pushed themselves to sound and look more mature too quickly most of the time it happens and their music and image kind of outgrew their fans. What do you think?

          3. Hi Michael!

            Results of switch from teen pop to more mature look / sound are often not that good, but the real question is how would it have gone without the switch? Indeed, the life of teen stars rarely last more than 2 to 3 years. Even when the peak is insane like the Backstreet Boys, they disappear quickly. All acts who tried to stay teen acts for long were even more backlashed than those who matured with years. To be honest, I can’t think of a teen act who ever made it to their 5th year. At the end of the day, it looks kind of normal since teenage years do not last longer!

  2. Wow! This article clearly shows how exaggerated sales of some artists can be, I expected them to be at least at 70 million CSPC.

  3. Thanks for doing this! Now we have pretty much all the most important acts from the teen pop era (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, Destiny’s Child and Spice Girls). Only NSYNC is missing!

    Regarding Spice Girls, the sales for their first two albums (particularly their debut) are impressive, but I wasn’t expecting their third album to be such a massive bomb. 1.2 million in 2000 after coming off two massive sellers is VERY disappointing and has to be one of the biggest declines in pop music.

    Also, I love how you included Asian sales for their first album! Makes a great addition!

  4. Thank you so much for that one MJD! I wasn’t expecting it so it came as a very pleasant surprise! Keep up with the great work!!

  5. I would love to know a Cher one! She has always interested me since she has had some huge flops but then some huge successes.

  6. What about Forever album sales ?
    It’s certified double platinum in Canada, so shouldnt be above 200K at least ?
    or gold in Germany, so 100K+ ?
    and platinum in UK (300K+) ?
    I’m confused a bit.
    Thanks !

    1. Hi Dabbyy!

      Certifications are based on shipments from the label to retailers rather than on sales to consumers. Most of the time, initial shipments, which are minimum expectations, are sold and additional orders are done.

      In the case of Forever yet, it bombed so hard that many units shipped in its first week – EMI sold 2,2 million copies across the globe upon release – never found a purchaser. In Canada for example, it opened at #6 on an estimated 20,000 units sold and dropped out of the Top 100 some 9 weeks later. In the UK, the OCC tally was on 264,000 units a decade ago with yearly sales close to 0 in spite of heavy promotions during its first 2 years to evacuate unsold copies.

  7. Hi. I would like to make a possible correction… Here in Brazil, the album Forever was certified Gold, for 100,000 sold. I said sold, because here, unlike Europe and United States, when the stores buy the CDs, they can’t return it to the Record companies or retaliers, when the CDs flop. The only solution to them is to sold the record for a very low price (sometimes 99% cheaper), so it’s impossible one say that the CD sold 40,000 in Brazil. There was no chart here till 2009, and probably if the CD floped here, what I think unlikely, they were sold cheaper in the stores. Forever is out of print here since 2003 I think.

    1. Hi Marcus!

      Outside of the UK, 40% is very precisely the share of its initial shipment ‘Forever’ sold. In most countries, a 80%-limit is applied for returns. This means if an album ships 100k, at most 20k can be returned, thus if it sells 50k the remaining 30k are lost by the retailer.

      I’m aware of Brazil situation but it still doesn’t mean 100k got sold. In fact, those extra copies barely got destroyed, as it happens. Forever sold basically 4-7% of Spice in most countries, there is no way it found 100,000 purchasers in Brazil.

      A good comparison is Chinese Democracy by the Guns N Roses. The US retailer Best Buy bought 1,3 million units of it with a non-returns clause. It sold a mere 500,000 units after 2008 Christmas season, falling down charts. From early 2009, Best Buy started doing clearance of it, selling the album for $2. This brought in a few extra sales but still the album never reached 650,000 units – half of the units shipped. The other copies obviously got destroyed by now.

  8. I know that. But the 100k of Forever were not destroyed in Brazil, they were sold for low prices, if they flopped (I never saw this album sold for low prices here, but I live in a small city and it’s impossible to say for all the country). And how you know this album was not well here? We don’t’ have charts in Brazil till 2009. The albums are certified Gold by ABPD here (now Pro-music Brasil), only when the 100k were given to the stores, not when the Record company produced 100k CDs…

  9. Hi again Marcus,

    You can’t sell an album that the public doesn’t want. The same happened with Robbie Williams (Rudebox), Guns N Roses or Forever itself in all other countries. Severely discounting an album will add a few extra sales but that will never be enough to sell a massive over-shipment.

    It is very precisely the stores which destroyed all those albums to clear their stock when they knew that even with discounts they weren’t going to sell them, this isn’t rare at all. Even less in Brazil. There is tons of examples in recent years of famous international artists with a big first shipment and no other subsequent shipment coming, quite simply because the first one was never sold in full. Even when you get a AB code years later, in all likelihood many copies of the AA one got thrown away by retailers in-between. A good example of that is Beyoncé eponymous album.

    As for charts, if the official and current chart started in 2009, Billboard and Cashbox have been publishing charts for Brazil since the 60s. The ABPD has a year-end ranking based on shipment since 2000 too – which Forever missed. In fact Forever failed to make all those lists. Sales of Greatest Hits were bad in Brazil as anywhere else, it would be just wishful thinking to expect a exception result for Forever there. This is even more true since they toured Brazil in late 1997, strongly boosting sales of Spiceworld, which makes Forever selling as much as 25% of it with no hit, no ranking appearance, no show, no Geri or whatsoever completely surrealistic. You can also use YouTube Insights to check the distribution of their hits in all countries to see that Forever singles bombed there as much as everywhere.

  10. I think you are wrong. CDs/LPs never were returned or destroyed here in Brazil, after the 80s. But I don’t want to go on with this fact. You made a very good work here, and I appreciate that. Thank You! 😉

    1. There is unsold copies everywhere all the time, why would it never happen in Brazil? Each time an album like Beyoncé’s self-titled album ships 100k and never get a shipment again, do you really think it sold very exactly 100k to not get returns / destroyed copies but not one copy more in years to never require a new shipment? I can list you over 200 international albums with big first shipments that never got a second one, if we go your way, it would mean they all sold very exactly the amount of that shipment – that’s just completely impossible!

  11. When it comes to physical and digital sales, you have Destiny’s Child and Spice Girls at the same amount. Which group sold more?

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