CSPC: The Beatles Popularity Analysis

'With The Beatles'

Original Album Sales – Comments

1963 Please Please Me – 5,900,000
1963 With the Beatles – 5,850,000
1964 A Hard Day’s Night – 9,350,000
1964 Beatles for Sale – 5,650,000
1965 Help! – 9,850,000
1965 Rubber Soul – 14,400,000
1966 Revolver – 12,450,000
1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – 24,800,000
1967 Magical Mystery Tour – 10,600,000
1968 The Beatles (White Album) – 19,000,000
1969 Yellow Submarine – 4,200,000
1969 Abbey Road – 26,700,000
1970 Let It Be – 11,900,000

A gran total of 160,65 million copies sold across 13 studio albums, which include their various soundtracks. No doubt many will rate this total as kind of disappointing. For several reasons, it would be jumping on conclusions too fast though.

First, you need to consider market constraints. Their mid-60s albums were selling in the 10,000 to 30,000 range in Italy, a pale number. Not that big there? Far from that, along with local legend Mina they were the biggest sellers. Album sales were just abysmal as a whole. Apply that situation to most markets and you realize that the huge majority of their sales came as catalog results. Even a monster like Sgt Pepper’s on a solid market like Germany only sold an estimated 155,000 units in its first year, multiplying its sales by five since.

Second, not all studio albums of the Beatles were studio albums. Until Rubber Soul, their LPs were getting local releases, most notably in the US. This is why Please Please Me, With The Beatles and Beatles For Sale sold so much less than the others, because they first came out in that country during their 1987 CD releases. Instead, they got 7 major US albums from 1964 to 1966 which sold a huge 19 million units to date, led by Meet The Beatles! at 5,8 million. Of course, we are not going to ignore those releases. In a CSPC logic, they will be treated within’ the Compilations Category which comes later on the article with their sales re-assigned to original albums depending on their tracklist.

Third, from their earliest years the band issued various compilations, with Red / Blue albums from 1973 and 2000 set One leading the pack. Such releases invariably diminish the catalog appeal of original albums. Just like locally issued records, those greatest hits type of LPs will be treated later in this article inside the Compilations Category.

Fourth, the Beatles weren’t exclusive album sellers. During their hey-days, they sold tons of singles too. This is very precisely the next format to be detailed on following pages…

18 thoughts on “CSPC: The Beatles Popularity Analysis”

  1. holy moly you guys this is epic!! i knew you were working on something huge!! phenomenal job. wow. i need to read this article a few more times again to fully grasp everything. once again, all 3 of you, BRAVO!!!

  2. Fantastic job! I’ve waited for this moment!!!

    I also noticed these massive sales from Argentina. Their studio albums sold more there than in much larger markets like France, Brazil and Australia, do you know if there’s any particular reason for that?

    1. Hi Al,

      Thanks for your comments and we are very glad you liked the article, that was our purpose!

      As for Argentina, there are a number of reasons, some related to the market’s size and others to the cultural impact made by British groups, starting from The Beatles.

      The first thing to mention is that Argentina isn’t a very strong market now, but it was quite big (let’s say medium-to-big level) until the mid 70s. For instance, 32 million albums and singles were sold during 1975, more than in several key markets like Netherlands, Spain and even slightly bigger than Italy. The Argentinean market was similar, in size, to that of Mexico or Brazil despite the latter two countries being then and now far more populated. If we go further back in time, the mid to late 60s, the Argentinean market was actually the biggest in Latin America. Argentina is almost a unique case in the following sense: the local market was almost in better shape from about 1964 to 1975 than from 1976 to about 1990, which favoured The Beatles.

      The market returned to a big level during the 90s -athough this was a worldwide phenomenon-, in time for the public to start buying The Beatles’ stuff in CD format, whose explosion occurred in 1992/1993.

      And then, of course, we have the cultural reasons, which exceeds the content of the article and would need to be studied more deeply in the future. But Argentina has always had a positive bias toward British groups. The most populated and richer zone of the country is the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires, a highly cosmopolitan city and massively open to the music of the world, notably foreign rock/pop and the British one in particular.

      It is a combo that perfectly benefitted The Beatles, I would say.

      1. Thank you for the answer!

        Do you know if The Beatles are the best selling artist of all time in Argentina? (in album sales)

        1. Counting foreign music not sung in Spanish, they are the very best selling act ever and by a huge margin.

          Counting all sort of acts, disregarding the language, then Luis Miguel is likely to have sold a similar amount or even slightly bigger. That would take some research and no doubt that Luis Miguel will eventually be covered on Chartmasters.

          Julio Iglesias and Sandro (local singer) are both very strong selling artists, but highly unlikely to rival The Beatles in albums sales.

          So The Beatles are likely to be either the very best selling act in Argentina or the second best selling, easily the best selling non-Spanish act.

    1. Yes I can’t see either topping The Beatles. I’d also imagine that while MJ (if analysed) will not be an easy or quick task to undertake, Presley (if analysed) would be an absolute nightmare given the plethora of different titles released under his name, globally and locally. I certainly wouldn’t like to undertake the that mission lol

  3. I appreciate your work. Thanks for showing how amazingly well the Fab Four did! The orphan album is just so massive, wow!

    I am hoping for you to finally cover Mariah Carey for her birthday on the 27th of March! See ya!

  4. I was wondering, have you tried putting these figures on Wikipedia, I know the editors there are pretty strict but if these figures are correct (or at least in the same ballpark) then why not put them there?

  5. Very interesting reading and historical overview. Enormous amount of work and documentation are involved here.
    Anyway, I am very surprise by the amount of record sold in south america, especially if the sixties and seventies are concerned.
    This is what I found in Cashbox 1968-7-6 :
    “Sales figures in Argentina remained at the same level of 66/67, with strong hits selling between 60.000 and 100.000 (singles), LP’s ranging from 30.000 to 60.000 and many best sellers lits not surpassing the 15.000 mark.”
    This is about the same than Spain when per hit “Delilah” by Tom Jones did 125.000.

    1. Hi Grendizer!

      In all countries, including in Latin America, sales during the 60s represent only a small fraction of their albums sales to date. Their albums have been tremendous catalog sellers ever since the first day.

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