CSPC: The Beatles Popularity Analysis

Now On Apple's iTunes: The Beatles! (Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA)

Controversy #4: The Splash Strategy Illusion Part 1

As sales are nowhere near to be not known for all acts, all records about highest selling artists, albums or singles can be put under a shadow of doubt. Chart records can’t though. That’s what we think, but that is wrong too.

The Beatles chart achievements have been mind-blowing from their beginning, it is impossible to deny that. They still suggest higher success than what it has really been. The band got countless of chart toppers since disbanding, they also invade charts at every reissue campaign.

Rather than being simply impressed, our role at Chartmasters.org is to analyze those phenomenoms. Are they due to pure success only? The answer is no. In every business, everything depends on the supply to demand ratio.

The music industry, thanks to its print in the world culture, has many mechanics in place that create continuous interest in some records. Recurrent airplay, TV shows usage, covers, live shows, music magazines, playlists etc, the background is there providing the Beatles catalog linear exposure all year long. Whatever EMI does tomorrow, there will still be people regularly getting interested in buying Abbey Road or Revolver. Something EMI fully control though is the offer. For decades now they have been handling it to perfection with their gold mine named the Beatles.

What is called here the splash strategy is quite simple and well-known in various industries – held the supply for some time then flood the market. Exactly 30 years ago, they issued the first CD versions of the group albums. They performed better than anyone else CD releases.

Clearly, the worth of those albums helps, but if the splash upon release has been so big it is also due to a double retention from EMI. First, they waited quite long before dropping them. Most classic albums got issued in 1983 to 1985 in CD, in bulk among many other artists albums. EMI awaited for 1987 before dropping them in the spotlight of everyone. As music industry mecanics are still in place and creating interest as time passes no matter what and the supply wasn’t there, the demand was ever higher while waiting for those sets. More, EMI also took care of not releasing a CD compilation to first sell studio albums, adding to the offer Past Masters packages that contained missing hits from studio albums. Not only the demand was high for those CDs, but there had been no offer at all, not even a work around, to satisfy them.

32 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.

  6. Amazing job!

    you have a new follower in latin america . Could you please post the BONUS: Total Album (all types) Sales per Country for the Beatles? please!!

    Thank you so much in advance!

    1. Hi John,

      There is an entire page (25) demonstrating the real sales of Sgt Pepper’s in the UK. The 5 million plus figure is pure fantasy from Alan Jones.

    1. Hi John,

      All countries aren’t listed, which doesn’t mean they have been ignored – in fact if you add detailed countries numbers and the Worldwide total you will be able to see the difference.

      As for Africa or India, their markets are tiny / non-existent depending on the period. Up to the mid-80s their records weren’t issued in most Asian / African countries. Even in latter years, only South Africa, Turkey and Israel developed some kind of an album market, the rest of the continent was relying exclusively on pirated records and a few imports.

  7. Hello MJD !!!
    Due to keep blocking or removal Apple many videos on YouTube have been removed, so imagine that YouTube streaming of The Beatles is disappointing,insignificant or irrelevant.
    What do you think about it ? I’m curious about your opinion !!

    1. Hi Pelvis,

      The lack of continuity of songs on streaming services in general is obviously an issue. I try to collect as many streams as possible – and manage to access in direct to disabled pages of Spotify to get streams of currently unavailable songs – but if a video is suddenly deleted from YouTube before I log its views they will be effectively “lost”. Very often, the same videos are re-uploaded, plus YouTube equivalent sales are still kind of irrelevant for historical artists like the Beatles so the impact is quite minimal still. I’m confident that all songs will be consistently available on YouTube / Spotify in the future when it will be impossible to ignore streaming for labels.

      1. Hello MJD, would it be possible to add total albums per country
        and records and achivements for The Beatles ?..Thanks in advance
        for your work on this site 🙂

      2. Thank dear MJD for the full answers, then noticing the section of the orphane songs I saw that 2 songs are missing : All Things Must Pass (demo) which is present in the Anthology 3 and Fly On The Wall (Interview – Let it Be…Naked) (Medley).
        I think you upgrade the Beatles with their respective YouTube streaming towards the beginning of March 2018. Did I Guess ?

  8. Then when you will see their respective videos on YouTube I noticed that some videos find them without putting the article The preceding into the word Beatles.

  9. Unreal achievement. Backstreet Boys and Nsync are nowhere near where they are at their peak. Dont let me even begin with one direction. I was too young to know. However, my father who was a big huge fan of the Beatles and used to play so many2 60s singers CD in our hi-fi back when I was a kid, used to tell me that top singers like Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Elton John, Cher, are all just a 2nd rate singers compared to The Beatles. Such a legend.

  10. Geoff Emerick just posted a picture of him recieving an award
    for Anthology 1 for sales of more than 8 million..You can see
    the picture in the FB group ” The magnificent Beatles videos and photos room.

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