CSPC: Bee Gees Popularity Analysis

♫ah ah ah stayin alive! ♫

    • BIGGEST TRACKS – Bee GEES

      The list of most successful songs is compiled in album equivalent sales generated by each of them. It includes the song own physical singles sales with a 0,3 weighting, its download and streaming sales with appropriate weighting too plus its share among sales of all albums on which it is featured.

      1 1977 – Stayin’ Alive [Saturday Night Fever] – 31,460,000
      2 1977 – How Deep Is Your Love [Saturday Night Fever] – 15,500,000
      3 1977 – Night Fever [Saturday Night Fever] – 9,780,000
      4 1979 – Tragedy [Spirits Having Flown] – 8,820,000
      5 1976 – You Should Be Dancing [Children of the World] – 6,650,000
      6 1967 – To Love Somebody [Bee Gees’ 1st] – 6,420,000
      7 1977 – More Than a Woman [Saturday Night Fever] – 5,780,000
      8 1979 – Too Much Heaven [Spirits Having Flown] – 5,650,000
      9 1987 – You Win Again [E.S.P.] – 4,220,000
      10 1968 – Massachusetts [Horizontal] – 4,010,000
      11 1975 – Jive Talkin’ [Main Course] – 3,890,000
      12 1968 – I Started a Joke [Idea] – 3,750,000
      13 1971 – How Can You Mend a Broken Heart [Trafalgar] – 3,170,000
      14 1968 – Words [Horizontal] – 2,680,000
      15 1979 – Love You Inside Out [Spirits Having Flown] – 2,340,000
      16 1997 – Alone [Still Waters] – 2,100,000
      17 1968 – I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You [Idea] – 1,930,000
      18 1975 – Nights on Broadway [Main Course] – 1,890,000
      19 1991 – Secret Love [High Civilization] – 1,530,000
      20 1970 – Lonely Days [2 Years On] – 1,490,000

If you feel inspired by this list, we just ended to create this CSPC Bee Gees playlist on Spotify!

32 thoughts on “CSPC: Bee Gees Popularity Analysis”

  1. Main Cource got only a Gold certification, but its listed here with 1.7 million copies sold in USA. How do you know that it sold 1.2 million copies more??

    1. Hi Marcus!

      As mentioned inside the article, the Bee Gees label never bothered certifying their albums. In fact, SNF is the only one that ever got updated after its first year in the market.

      In the case of Main Course, the album was certified after 6 months of sales, when it peaked at #15. Several months later, it went on to re-peak at #14, charting for 1 more year. By 1976, Billboard already refered to it as a Platinum album. No need to say the album continued to sell well in 1977 / 1979 until the release of Greatest. Since it is a weak catalog seller, Main Course is estimated at only 1,7m to date, a pretty low figure considering its original success / run on charts.

  2. GREAT BAND, GREAT ARTICLE. Bee gees is the king of the disco era, I want to know is guilty the biggest female album in disco era?

    1. Hi Skkywill!

      If you don’t consider ABBA into the female category, without getting deep into figures the most realistic answer is yes 😉

      1. Woman in love is the biggest female single? I remember to read your post in UKMIX which credit it the biggest non-soundtrack\holiday single by female artist

  3. Could you possibly introduce a page in your CSPC-articles, in which you state the total pure album sales of the respective act (studio albums + compilations + remix/live albums etc.)? That would be an interesting information for all us chart freaks to know 😉

    Thanks all always.

  4. I miss sales figures from Norway. A lot of Bee Gees records sold very well here. A very good example is ESP with 120 000 copies sold and Platinium status.

    1. Hi Jostein!

      A choice has been made many years ago to focus on 10 markets for Europe as they are representative from the others. The UK mirrors sales in Ireland, Spain those in Portugal, Germany sales in Eastern Europe, Sweden and Finland nordic countries, the Netherlands reflects Belgium (Flanders) and France Wallonia, Switzerland is a mix of France, Italy and Germany etc…

      The formula used which fits with pretty much every IFPI award ever given is UK*1,05 + the remaining 9 displayed markets *1,3. That’s why E.S.P. has a Europe total of 1,96m in spite of a tally of 1,525,000 units from the 10 sampled countries, leaving 435,000 copies for rest of Europe, Norway included!

  5. Great work MJD and thanks a lot. The only thing I dont agree is the sales of Spirits Having Flown. According to RSO the album had sold almost 15 million by January 1980. This info was showed in the Bee Gees special aired in the US in 2000. Spirits sold more than any other album in the first 10 weeks in 79 so chart runs help the cause but It cant be the only source. In Canada for instance, the set sold almost 1 million according to Billboard in 1980. In Portugal Greece Hong Kong China Norway, South America, Spain sales were huge. In my country the set was still in the charts by march 1980. Sales in Italy are too low. The set spent 11 weeks at number 1. Thanks a lot for the info. Nothing short of sensational

    1. Hi Juan!

      I’m sure you are educated enough on the matter to not take those claims seriously, nor 15m WW nor 1m in Canada ^^

      Most figures claimed for this record included sales of its singles. You are overestimating the market of the time, Italian market for example was still fairly weak, largely lower than the Netherlands, even SNF sold less than 300,000 copies there in its first year. Selling roughly 8 million copies in its first 6 months was already a gigantic result, most likely the fastest selling non-soundtrack ever up to that point ahead of Abbey Road. Even ‘Rumours’ with 31 weeks at #1 in the US, terrific UK / Australia / Canada results and solid showing elsewhere moved barely 12m in its first year. Spirits has hardly shipped much copies after the initial madness yet. By now it is selling a few hundred copies a year in the biggest markets. You need to consider that not only both Too Much Heaven and Tragedy preceded the album, but also that a mere 8 months later Greatest replaced it from the market. I’m quite safe in saying that 1979 second semester shipment was likely in the minus side for this record.

      BTW, 15 million is exactly the number of copies sold by Grease in its first year. As you can guess, there is no way Spirits sold the same amount! Even Dark Side of the Moon with its insane run everywhere had yet to cross 15m by 1979.

      To resume sales were proportionally huge true, but in comparison with 1979 year not in comparison of what we have been used to see since 🙂

  6. Thanks MJD for the feedback. I dont agree with your grounds regarding Spirits but they are valid and you could have a point. I was very surprised though with the great sales of singles Staying Alive, Night Fever Tragedy and Too Much Heaven. Besides the sales of One Night Only CD and DVD are oustanding. Do you know how many copies the DVD has sold in the States? The set has spent 388 weeks in the top 40 and this very week is at number 18.
    Thanks in advance and keep up the good work

    1. Thanks MJD for the feedback. I dont agree with your grounds regarding Spirits but they are valid and you could have a point. I was very surprised though with the great sales of singles Staying Alive, Night Fever Tragedy and Too Much Heaven. Besides the sales of One Night Only CD and DVD are oustanding. Do you know how many copies the DVD has sold in the States? The set has spent 388 weeks in the top 40 and this very week is at number 18.
      Thanks in advance and keep up the good work

    2. Hi again Juan!

      Sorry to disappoint but I may even downgrade Spirits sales soon. I just ended to found out with 100% certainty the industry top seller in the US in 1979 was Zeppelin album In Through the Outdoor with less than 4 million – in fact it was certified 3xP in 1984. It appears clear in regards to Spirit that the “4,5 million in 10 weeks” claim is wrong. The Long Run, 11 weeks #1 by Christmas by the Eagles sold 3m only while Rod Stewart who preceded the Bee Gees at the top did 2 million. All information is official and come from 1979 Financial Report of Warner Communications.
      Both Warner and Billboard reported how disastruous 1979 first semester was with a complete absence of blockbuster albums. In April of that year, the latter reported Spirits was the only 2-million seller from the Top 10 Album chart while exactly two years earlier half of the Top 10 was over that mark.

      One Night Only DVD is estimated on 700,000 units to date in the US – and nearly 800,000 in Latin America!!

      All four singles you mention sold 2/2,8m in the US and 1,7/2,1m in Europe plus as you know huge results elsewhere even if markets were truly weak.

    1. Hi again Juan!

      Yes, I saw this add on Billboard, but at no point it confirms 4m sales in the US – first, there is no reference to the US, it is most likely the global shipment. Second, if it refers to the US, it would still be no evidence as the album shipped immensely in its first two months, the gross shipment by then was likely higher than the net shipment by the end of the year.

      Financial reports of Warner are 100% factual, you can check the one of 1979 (pages 26/32) which makes it very clear that Led Zeppelin album was the most shipped of the year in the US, all majors included. You have plenty of sales figures for big 1979 albums too, you will be able to see that various albums with runs close / as good as Spirit all sold 1-3 million units.

  7. I believe there was several real huge album sellers in 1979, also Breakfast in America by Supertramp competed with Spirits. Besides the disco backlash had already started to hurt the Bee Gees in late 1979.

    A main problem with the Bee Gees catalogue is that in several long periods most of the studioalbums have been out of print, hard to find. They could have sold millions more if the company and Barry would not focus to much on hit collections. The overall very strong studioalbums tells the true story of how many great songs the public often are not given chance to discover, sadly enough.

  8. Job well done again! This analysis must have taken quite a long time considering the volume of the Bee Gees discography!

    Their discography is quite similar to that of Fleetwood Mac’s (One mega blockbuster, 1-2 very successful albums, a few albums with decent success, and the rest lie in the 1-3m range, accumulating a very healthy total)

    I’m quite surprised by how massive SNF is! Despite being in the same era and being remembered as successful as SNF, Grease is more than 10m units below the former! 65m+ is absolutely unbelievable! I wonder how big Thriller would be when you do a MJ CSPC analysis! No doubt it’s the most successful album ever, but the number must be insane!

    Also, as I’ve noticed and you’ve mentioned in the Beatles and this analysis, the physical singles market was absolutely huge in the 60’s/late 70’s! Lots of singles from that time sold bucketloads! I want to ask you what do you think is the peak for this format? While the 60’s and the disco era was huge, i feel like the 90’s, especially from the mid to late 90’s was pretty big, with several huge sellers (IWALY, Candles in the Wind)

    Looking forward for your upcoming Janet Jackson analysis! About her, I want to ask whether you still have Control over 10m copies, RN1814 over 11m copies and DOAD over 9m copies considering you deducted 0,5-1m units from their US total since your last update.

    1. Hi Raffi!

      To answer your question about physical singles sales, since IFPI started reporting the format in 1973 the best year has been, maybe surprisingly, 1983 with 800 million singles sold Worldwide. This figure is kind of a mistery to me as the main markets we know US / JP / UK / FR / GE added for only 399 million for the year, down from 405 million in 1982 while only 580 million singles were sold in the World, so this may have been a typo from the IFPI.

      If we focus on the five main markets, the peak was in 1979 with 493 million singles sold. It was a pretty stable total as from 1973 to 1982 the number stayed in the 405-493 million range. Starting from 1979 peak it decreased every year until 1988 though, reaching a 276 million low that year. Then it climbed back up in almost all years until a new high point in 1997 at 466 million. The interesting point is how linear those figures are ultimately as from 1973 to 2001 the lasticity is less than 1 to 2 since the low point of 276m is still a healthy 56% of the peak at 493m.

      While comprehensive figures aren’t available for earlier years, Japan was big from mid-60s but still weaker than later years, the US market was huge in several eras including 350 (!) million in 1947 and 200+ million during the 60s, a figure it never reached again after 1974. The big difference during the 60s though was in the remaining markets – countries like Italy which had very low markets since 40 years were massive singles markets in the Beatles decade. While a mere 2 million singles were sold in most years of the 90s there, some stand-alone singles shifted close to 1 million units during the 60s. The same situation was true for various World markets.

  9. Good work!
    But I miss something.
    You should count Andy’s #1 singles, Chain reaction, Emotion and some other Bee Gees compositions as Bee Gees. In our times, these collaborations are called ‘Featuring’.. and most of their songs for others were featuring The Bee Gees.

    1. Hi Marc!

      You have a real argument when you mention today most of those songs would get the featuring credit. I’ll check those songs in detail and try to define a rule to adjust that evolution within’ the music industry habits!

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