CSPC: The Beatles Popularity Analysis

Beatles

Download Singles Sales – Part 1
Please Please Me (1963) – 240,000 equivalent albums

Love Me Do – 300,000
Do You Want to Know a Secret? – 200,000
Twist and Shout – 800,000
I Saw Her Standing There – 550,000
Remaining Tracks – 550,000

With the Beatles (1963) – 90,000 equivalent albums

All My Loving – 350,000
Remaining Tracks – 550,000

A Hard Day’s Night (1964) – 167,500 equivalent albums

A Hard Day’s Night – 400,000
If I Fell – 200,000
And I Love Her – 225,000
Can’t Buy Me Love – 350,000
I Should Have Known Better – 200,000
Remaining Tracks – 300,000

Beatles for Sale (1964) – 75,000 equivalent albums

I’ll Follow the Sun – 200,000
Eight Days a Week – 200,000
Remaining Tracks – 350,000

Album sales of the Beatles are very linear over their early albums, most of which sold roughly the same. On those digital sales, we start seeing a phenomenon very rare – the complete my discography logic.

The huge majority of artists need hits to sell albums. Let’s make it even clearer – all acts, as much of an album act as it may be regarded, sell their albums proportionally to the strength of the hits on them. No matter if you are speaking about Take That or Led Zeppelin, this remains true.

Beatles early albums keep on selling very similar amounts year after year. Nevertheless, digital results of their songs are way less in par between each of them. Please Please Me outperforms Beatles For Sale by more than 3 to 1 with Twist And Shout alone sells more units than the latter album.

Why the hell do those albums sell the same then? They are all on a fairly lower league than their latter albums in terms of reputation. The band name on its side is insanely popular. Their discography is relatively small and regarded as essential by many music lovers. All those facts combined together create a unique situation where the strength of hits is not enough of a factor against the complete my discography target. In other words, when a consumer starts considering buying one of those early albums, he most likely picked already at least 5 or 6 of the band records and is already aiming to buy them all.

With less than 6 million units sold in digital single format for all their tracks, those albums do not perform that well there. No song from this era reaches 1 million units.

25 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.

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