CSPC: Janet Jackson Popularity Analysis

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janet jackson 2

You have been voting in your numbers on voting at Chartmasters.org for your favorite artist to be studied with the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept. The promise was that artists winning each category would be covered within a few weeks. On political campaigns, commitments aren’t always completed but our site is fully aiming to respect them! Among artists with a mid-sized discography, Janet Jackson received half of the votes – 297 out of 592 as of now – the highest total of any artists from all categories making it natural to start filling your wishes by working on her statistics!

It is a mystery to nobody that the American superstar hasn’t been doing headlines for many years. The little sister of Michael Jackson is more than a famous sibling or a faded rising star. Her discography spans 33 years from 1982 to 2015. Along the way she topped the US charts with 10 singles and 7 albums, proving a real selling power.

Albums like Control and Rhythm Nation 1814 are often claimed to be 14 million sellers each while 1993 set Janet. is supposed to be a 20 million seller. Regular readers of our website are certainly questioning those tallies though as they know how often inflated figures flood the internet, especially when the popular divas a la Madonna, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston or Celine Dion are concerned. Her chart toppers are completely legitimate so she must have sold a good chunk of units with various of her records. What is the truth then? Where does Janet Jackson rank inside the all-time divas list?

As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to relevantly gauge her results. The concept will not only bring you sales information for all Janet Jackson albums, physical singles, download singles, music videos and streaming, it will also accurately weight all this information to conclude her true popularity. If you are not yet familiar with the CSPC idea, the next page explains it with a short video, I fully recommend you to watch it before getting onto the sales figures. Of course, if you are a regular visitor feel free to skip the video and get into the figures. Let’s go!

105 thoughts on “CSPC: Janet Jackson Popularity Analysis”

  1. Thank you so much for doing this! I’ve been waiting on a Janet article for a while! I must say, I expected her totals to be higher (mostly because of fans inflating sales, as it happens with every artist), but her sales are still very respectable and consistent up until some point. Nice to see Janet. nearing 20 million CSPC, hopefully it will get there one day although it’s unlikely right now.

    Do you think you can share your breakdown for Design Of A Decade? I’d love to know its individual sales in Europe, Asia, etc.

    Also, amazing job once again!

  2. Wow! I thought Janet had big sales… but im mistake.

    Please! Can you edit Madonna’s profile? With her compilations albums country by country?

    Thank you!

    I love your work!

    The next! Mariah!

  3. Hi, awesome job! I have a small question, how did you arrive at 100k for “Control” in Australia? Its chart run was rather weak and it’s not even certified Gold

    48-49-31-29-26-25-31-25-30-31-34-35-40 44-43-48

    Just wondering haha. Awesome job regardless.

    1. Hello Glory!

      The chart run you post make it look like the album sold averagely during 3/4 months. The complete one inside the Top 100 tells a different story yet:
      21/07/1986 86-78-52-60-61-48-49-31-29-26-25-31-25-30-31-34-25-40-44-43-59-61-57-59-67-55-51-48-53-52-69-74-76-93
      15/06/1987 97-99-78-77-50-49-53-51-55-73-75

      As you can see, it was selling for one month before, then 2 months separate your last two entries (43 / 48), then it charted 6 more weeks and returned a full 3 months later for a 11 weeks run.

      All certifications are available from 1990 only and year end charts started in 1988, but had them been available, Control would have in all likelyhood been certified Gold in 1986 and close to Platinum by the end of 1987 hitting the bottom of the year end Top 100 both times.

      Then, the album of course continued selling a bit every year until the release of Design of a Decade. Both RN1814 and Janet. were #1 records there and Control sales have been estimated on close to 5,000 units per year from 1988 to 1994. You get almost on the 100,000 units territory, which I rounded to that figure since there is still 23 years of low catalog sales to factore in!

  4. Hey MJ,

    did you miss her remix album “janet. remixed”?, which did have some respectable success in the UK for example. I couldn’t find it under “Full Length related records Sales”, where you do have “Control: The Remixes”?

    Otherwise thankds for the superb work again and I’m impatiently waiting for Mariah….. 😉

    1. Hi Luminator!

      I should have explained it inside the article itself but I directly added “Janet. remixed” to “Janet.”.

      The main place of that remix album was the UK and there they got combined both for chart and certification purpose so it wasn’t possible to divide them, which is why I merged those releases especially since it ends up with the same numbers in a CSPC logic!

  5. This was a really good read! Thanks a lot for this amazing post 🙂 I’m not gonna lie, I wish Janet’s sales were closer to the likes of Madonna/Whitney/Mariah, but she’s nearing 60m albums and that’s a very impressive feat no matter what.

  6. Wow, i always thought Janet had a bigger career. Im not a hater at all, but let’s be honest, her sales are very underwhelming for someone who debuted in the 80s and was peers with Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Shania Twain, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion! She sold less in 35 years than Britney Spears sold with 4 albums, and her total sales are lower than Beyonce’s with Destinys Child….. and while theyre still not bad by any means, I dont think its fair to put Janet in the same category as her peers. One thing I gotta admit though, her consistency between 1986-2001 was quite impressive, and two 10 million sellers isnt anything to put down, so shes definitely had a great career. Thank you for giving us an insight into her career, MJD! Much appreciated

    By the way, Im curious as to who you will be analyzing next, is it Mariah or Miley? either way, im looking forward to it!

    1. Hi Ethan!

      We can’t overlook that Janet sold as many or more physical singles than most of those other female singers though. While in the whole vacuum of things Janet can’t be compared to the likes Madonna / Celine / Mariah / Whitney, she has been discussed as part of the same league due to her US success. From that country point of view, she has been truly huge. Also, from 1985 to 2003, which are the golden years of the industry, she issued only 5 albums while the other artists issued way more records. She also lacked a true massive global seller. Even you put apart Music Box, Mariah Carey sales album after album were similar during the 90s than Janet sales, the only difference was the pace of releases!

      Next one will be MC :p

      1. You are quite right MJD! Janet’s weakness was really that she didn’t have a global seller like her peers, and that she released very few albums during her peak.

        However, regarding the comparison with Mariah, I still believe Mariah is by far the more successful act. If you look at album sales only, and that we remove Music Box from Mariah’s discography, Daydream alone was a successful to monster seller in the 3 biggest continents, and that album alone has sold more than Control and RN1814 combined. Mariah also has 2 additional studio albums that sold upwards of 13m copies worldwide (Merry Xmas and her debut), more than Janet., Janet’s biggest selling album. And if we were to add in compilations and live albums, #1’s sold almost twice as many copies as DOAD and even a live album like MTV Unplugged sold more copies than Janet’s AFY and not that far from TVR, and those were studio albums!

        1. Of course Raffi! Mariah overall is undoubtedly way bigger than Janet in more than a way. My comment was referred to average sales. Janet albums from 1986 to 2001 sold 9m on average, I haven’t update Mariah stats so far but I don’t expect her average studio albums to be much higher than that without Music Box for the same period 🙂

      2. I disagree. She is in the league of Britney or Shania Twain in the USA (40-45 million albums equivalent). Mariah and Madonna sold the double there. But she was trully big.
        Why do you think she wasnt so big in Europe?

    2. I’m not sure why you’re bringing in Britney Spears to undermine Janet Jackson though. I’m glad that Britney has had a lot of success but let’s not forget that Britney’s peak years, the TRL era 1999-2004) were filled with imitating Janet Jackson in her music videos/tours that sold all those albums. So she obviously owes Janet Jackson as much as Madonna.

        1. Britney performed “Black Cat” on her first tour. Britney’s way of dancing is so Janet and not that much in style of Madonna. Britney’s music, though, is not even near as good and important as Janet’s or even Madonna’s. Your art is what makes you legendary and imortal, not comercial success and records. That comes and goes and average people don’t even think about that aspect. That being said, Janet’s place in history is cemented long ago, but I’m not sure about Britney. She’s like Paula Abdul to me. But that’s the other story.

          1. I love Janet, I really do. I recognize and admit that she is Britney’s biggest influence and idol. At my school, I ask students all the time about her so I can discuss her albums and performances with them but their answer is unfortunately almost always “I don’t know who that is” and sometimes I get (a rather shady) “MJ’s sister” as an answer but in that case they never know a single song from her. Her catastrophic Youtube and Spotify streaming further confirms that her catalogue of hits is forgotten. She is unfortunately not as cemented, immortal and legendary as you were led to believe. At least outside of the US. So I’m going to ask you to stay in your lane and to stop coming for Britney Spears, who actually has a music catalogue that is known to the public. Janet and Paula is a better comparison in my opinion since they have a lot in common it seems. Great dancing skills, forgotten hits and low name recognition. ♥

          2. Canada, Japan, Oceania, Africa… That’s all outside the USA, not only Europe. And Janet is huge there. Just like Britney, Janet had huge tours and stadium shows at all continents. Actually Janet had bigger world tours than Madonna until 2004, in both attendance, number of countries visited and gross. It’s just that Janet became a superstar 15 years earlier than Britney, so we’ll talk about Britney and how many people can name any of her songs in 2033. Right now, if you talk with kids, she’s already a stranger to the most of them. They weren’t even born when she was popular. Even Madonna is not in much better position, and she’s like super active and trying so hard working with young, relevant stars – not to mention Elvis, Whitney, Celine, Bob Dylan, Barbra, Tina Turner, Arteha etc. Do you really think that kids are familiar with their work? The most of them aren’t, and that’s normal, that will happen to every pop star sooner or later. However, in popular shows like “Dance Dance Dance” and “Your Face Sounds Familiar” Janet is everywhere: Hungary, The Netherlands, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy, Spain, UK, Slovakia… Which only proves her legendary status even in Europe. And honestly, I never met anyone here in Eastern Europe that didn’t know at least on Janet song. Check how many likes has her Vkontakte fan page, and they are all very young. As of Spotify, that’s only because the most of her albums and videos weren’t available until 2015 in many big markets. That’s when she finally verified her Spotify account, made albums available in more countries and sorted them all under “Janet Jackson”. Before, some were sorted under “Janet” and it was hard to find them, even if they were available in your country. YouTube is still a mess. None of her VEVO videos are available in my country, and many other countries actually – which you can check using some VPN. Not to mention that her biggest hits aren’t even uploaded, and when fans do, they remove them after a year or so. But, I wasn’t even talking about sales and streams. I was comparing Britney to Paula in terms of music quality, influence, originality, and respect she is getting from serious music publications and critics. What’s her artistic achievement? How many of her albums and songs are on all-time lists of the best albums? How many of her #1 or Top 5 hits were written by her? That’s what makes you legendary and important, not sales. Sales are secondary thing.

  7. Hey MJD!

    Janet’s one of my favorite artists, so I was pretty hyped when I saw that you completed this analysis!

    While going through her album sales, I was a bit apprehensive on whether you underestimated them as less than a decade ago you had Control above 10m, All For You at 6,7m etc. I’m more surprised by TVR as you had it at 8,5m a year ago on you Fake 10m sellers article. What caused the big decrease? Still, I respect your work and you have several label reports to back up your claim, so I can’t argue with that. By the way, i believe you made a typo in page 13 with Discipline’s sales at 800,000 when it should be 700,000.

    Some comments on her album sales: While almost 60m albums sold is a healthy figure, as you’ve pointed out, it is somewhat disappointing. Although she managed to make it big in markets like Japan with AFY (700K+) and France with TVR (500K+), compared to Celine and Mariah who had multiple million sellers in those places, it certainly pales. Also, I’ve noticed that in countries like Holland and Canada, she never had a big album there, instead having consistent sales across multiple releases. What’s more is that her sales outside Japan in Asia is weaker than i thought. Moreover, her strongest market is indefinitely the US, with close to 40m albums sold, but even I find that somewhat lackluster. Don’t get me wrong, 3 consecutive albums at 7/8m is huge, but considering the numerous hits those albums spawned, and that her peers were scoring multiple diamond albums, those figures again pales. I feel that in terms of album sales, she was closer to Toni Braxton (who i hope you’d do an CSPC analysis on soon) than the likes of Mariah, Celine, Whitney etc. in the 90’s.

    Regarding her physical singles sales, 40m+ is bigger than i expected! Looking at year end articles from Billboard magazines, I find that most of her singles sold in the range of 1-1,3m in the US, so i assumed she was more of an airplay artist. I didn’t expect her 3 biggest albums to be home of 7/8m+ selling singles! I counted that she has 23 million selling singles in toal in the physical format.

    As for her digital appeal, it’s no doubt weak, but not as bad as i thought. Her steaming results are underwhelming, but understandable considering she’s been out of the spotlight prior to when Spotify blew up. 13m downloads and ringtones is also weak, but she has some singles close to the million mark, so not that bad! I feel that had her 2004 Superbowl performance hadn’t happened, her results in the digital realm would be much better. If you check the final results of her CSPC analysis, you’ll see that a vast majority of her album sales equivalents comes from the physical format, while her downloads and streaming combined is only at 1,6m, which is just an abysmal 2% of her total, similar to acts like Celine. However, I feel like Janet is more of Madonna’s act type (entertainers) than Celine’s (vocal acts), so I believe that Janet had bigger potential in the digital realm, but was completely destroyed with that career-destroying performance.

    Next, 76,5m album equivalents is similar to what I’ve expected. Her 3 albums from 1986-1993 is bigger than I’ve thought. Control at 15m is similar to Whitney’s MLIYL album and Madonna’s Music album, while RN1814 is bigger than any albums Alicia Keys, Xtina and Beyonce released, while Janet at 19m has to be one of the top R&B albums studied so far, topped only by those of Whitney’s.

    Finally, when looking at Janet’s most successful songs, it is pretty obvious that That’s The Way Love Goes is her signature song, despite it’s weak digital appeal. I’m surprised that Together Again is much lower than the aforementioned song, even lower than All For You, as it was that song that revived TVR is several markets and was Janet’s biggest seller in the physical format. What’s more, her pattern of her songs’ success is interesting, as while TTWLG is at a huge 10m units, her other songs are consistent at the range of 1,5-3m. We can also see that both Control and RN1814 didn’t spawn any huge singles, but all commercially released singles were equally successful, building the huge tally for both albums. All 5 of Control’s singles are in Janet’s Top 20 most successful song, with the most successful one at only 3,3m, while RN1814’s most successful song is also at 3,3m, but that album’s remaining 6 singles are at 1,5m or above, with 5 of the 7 singles at 2m units or above, showing that Janet was a very consistent hit maker back in the days.

    I have some questions to ask you:

    1. I have calculated Janet’s career total in Japan at 3,26m from your breakdowns alone, probably more has been sold. Where does that place Janet in the best selling international acts of Japan? What other acts outsold her?

    2. Janet has a total of 23 million selling singles in the physical format, which is quite impressive. How does that compare to other acts in terms of million sellers in that format?

    3. I calculated Janet’s UK, Germany and France album sales at 3,1m+ and 1,8m+ and 1,2m+ respectively, probably more. Based on the market size, which European market was the strongest? Do you think Janet has other stronger European markets?

    4. When can you add a page that shows the total album sales of an artist in each country?

    Thanks and keep up the good work! Looking forward for the next article!

    1. Hey MJD!

      One more question I would like to ask: Are the claims of Janet’s immense success in South Africa true? I’ve heard claims that That’s The Way Love Goes is the best selling single by a female artist there, and that the Janet. album is the best selling album by a foreign act there with 300k sold. Are any of those true. Perhaps you could provide some album sales figures for her in South Africa so we can see how successful she was there?

      Please and Thank You!

      1. Hi again MJD! One final question I forgot to ask!

        In terms of her 40m+ physical singles sales, how many of them comes from the US?

        Thank You!

    2. Hi Raffi!

      A lot to diggest as usual 😉

      I’ll try to structure the answer!

      1) Discipline typo is fixed, thanks!

      2) Two main reasons explaining strong decreases. First is the Columbia House study that has been done and which clarified Virgin albums special situation with few to no sales at all there. Second is Asian sales, often claimed to be massive for Janet, comparing known figures with company reports we can notice there is simply no room for supposed big sales. We do have also TVR July 1998 certification breakdown which shows very low certifications as a whole in that continent. She was a good seller in Asia yes, but nowhere near the league of the likes Mariah or Michael.

      3) Yes, results are disappointing overall mostly due to her lack of consistency in the World. She remained strong in the US but elsewhere it was really hit or miss and even hits weren’t that big. After all, she never ever had a million selling album in a market outside the US. None in Japan, UK, Canada, Germany, France like the other big divas do have. Her brother sold past a million with a single album in countries like Australia, Brazil, Italy, Netherlands, Mexico etc. Janet highest ever outside the US is Design of a Decade sales in the UK of 750,000 units – fairly low “best”.

      4) Completely agree on the 2004 career stopper. The fact EMI sold 2,4 million copies of her Damita Jo album (orders were likely even higher one month prior release as the Superbowl possibly resulted in cancellations) and then so many units got returned show the unexpected backlash. This is even more telling after 15 years of solid and continuous success.

      5) Yes, TTWLG has been the biggest song of her career, I wouldn’t call it her signature song yet as asking through the World for one song of Janet to 100 passengers, I don’t expect more than 20/30 to say TTWLG first. I would say this is along 4) a strong reason for low Janet showing in the digital era, the lack of a driving force for her catalog. A 100m-streams song a la Stayin’ Alive, MHWGO or IWALY would drive traffic on her iTunes or Spotify page, make people think about her when walking on a music retailer, would boost promotion of a compilation etc.

      Now about questions:
      1) Really hard to tell, there is many acts with more than 3,5 million sales. About females apart from those mentioned already, we need to add Avril Lavigne too. Most Janet sales are there already – the Japanese total is 3,31 million.

      2) Hard to tell as well, I never tracked a statistic of most million selling singles, but 23 is truly an impressive number there. Celine has 12, Whitney 22, Madonna 38. This is even more impressive for Janet that she has few albums and few tracks outside her albums. Almost half of Madonna million sellers for example are lead singles or orphan tracks, thus selling a million with a 5th or 6th single of a successful album is a real achievement.

      3) I would say Janet biggest European market was the Netherlands with 550,000 albums sold there. It is often a very favorable country for black music artists.

      4) Forgot about it, will see how to insert it on this article!

      5) about South Africa, I’m not sure how legitimate are 4/5/6xP awards of her early albums, and I’m safe that “biggest selling xxx” claims are fake. There is no way an album like Janet. outsold Thriller for example while That’s The Way Love Goes was released when the market was in a hole at an abysmal 100,000 units sold per year for the entire country, so that single being the top seller ever is a nonsense. Her success was real there yet, the 4xP award of All For You was valid for example. So while it is hard to put specific figures on each album, she did perform well in this country.

      1. Hello Raffi!
        To complete MJD’s answer, here is the list of artists who have the most million selling singles (question 2):
        1. Madonna – 38
        2. Beatles – 31
        3. Rolling Stones – 28
        4. Janet Jackson – 24
        4. Whitney Houston – 24
        6. Bee Gees – 21
        7. ABBA – 20
        8. David Bowie – 15
        9. George Michael – 13
        10. Bon Jovi – 12
        10. Céline Dion – 12
        10. Fleetwood Mac – 12

        1. Hey, according with Chartmasters analyses Céline has more than 15 songs that sold at least 1m, not only 12: Mhwgo, Because You Loved Me, It’s all coming back to me now, The Power Of Love, I’m your angel, Think Twice, All By Myself, Beauty and The Beast, A new day has come, Pour que tu m’aimes encore, That’s The way it is, To Love You more, I’m alive, Tell Him, Immortality & Taking Chances (her less sold with 1,150,000), these are her 16 best selling singles… Despite the fact she may have some 1m topping singles. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C57sDDPWUAAYzGm.jpg

      2. I don’t know what are you talking about. With exception of “Like A Virgin” and “True Blue”, Janet’s sales were very similar to Madonna’s. Madonna only released much more albums.

        1. What?
          Madonna’s self titled debut album DESTROYED Janet’s worldwide.

          LAP outsold RN worldwide

          ROL outsold TVR worldwide

          MUSIC outsold AFY worldwide

          AL outsold DJ worldwide

          COADF destroyed 20 YO worldwide

          HC outsold DISCIPLINE worldwide

          RH outsold UNBREAKABLE worldwide

          The ONLY time Janet whipped Madonna worldwide with album sales was with her Janet album up against BOTH Madonna’s Erotica and Bedtime Stories albums. 1992-1995 if you will.
          These are statistical sales FACTS, you’re embarrassing yourself.

  8. Thank you for adding DOAD, MJD! 🙂 Like Raffi said, it’d be cool to have a list of best selling international females in Japan. Where would Janet rank? Based on your other articles, only Madonna, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, and Britney Spears have outsold her. As far as other females go, I know Cyndi Lauper and Enya have sold a lot in Japan, and Mariah Carey is obviously the biggest seller.

    Japan seems to be Janet’s biggest international market, even bigger than the UK!

  9. Janet sold less than I expected. I remember vivid claims from various people of album sales from 100 to 160 million… but that is clearly not realistic.
    59,6 million is not bad but when you compare it to the other big 80’s and 90’s stars it pales in comparison. But Janet has had an impressive career for her standards.
    Thanks for your analysis, very interesting 🙂

    1. The estimation of 160M sales is actually came from her record sales (albums+singles). Her album sales estimation is around 90M worldwide (with shipments and streaming equivalent sales). Janet’s 80’s and 90’s albums are need to be re-certified, that is why her sales seem so low.

      1. When stating such gross figures as 90m album sales you need to put evidences of it. For Janet we do have financial reports of her labels for most years and there isn’t a single doubt she is nowhere near such a tally no matter how you count it.

        1. Um Billboard even stated way back in 1997 that “Control” and “Rhythm Nation” both sold 14 million and the “janet.” album sold over 20 million. The Velvet Rope sold 10 million worldwide also. We’ll believe Billboard over you. That’s almost 60 million from just 4 albums and Sales haven’t been updated since. For you to say her being at 90 million or even 100 million isn’t possible is absurd. Mind you her BMG catalog sales aren’t even being included. Mariah’s “Music Box” and “Daydream” albums have only sold over 7 million in the U.S. but they are certified Diamond which means 10 million. Janet is way undercertified. Take that into consideration before you start talking about inflated sales.

      2. To Wibisana:
        90 million? Very inflated. And it’s not like Janet is selling much in catalog sales so most of her certs are probably correct, well except for her U.S sales …

  10. Michael Jackson pleaaaase!

    Love Janet!

    I find your career brilliant and it sold very well. Having the stigma of being the King of Pop’s sister and launching her career at the Michael’s peak was a risky. Just because she left that huge shadow and built her own legacy already shows just how iconic she is. GOD BLESS THE QUEEN!

  11. I thought 14 million for “Janet.” and above 10 million for “Control” and RN1814 was a given.
    In the US she was a force to be reckon, both in albums and singles… but in the singles department is where she outperformed most of her contemporaries from the decade 1986/1995 particularly.

  12. Hi again MJD! I counted a total of 5,220,000 albums sold in Asia for Janet (not counting remix albums or other compilations). With more than 5 million albums sold across the Asian continent, I think it’s safe to say Janet is one of the biggest selling non-Asian divas there, even if her sales outside Japan seem to be a bit underwhelming.

    I looked up some of your older articles, but unfortunately you didn’t start including Asian totals until very recently. If you have the time, would you please tell us how much the following artists have sold in Asia, including compilations?

    Celine Dion
    Whitney Houston
    Britney Spears
    Beyonce/Destiny’s Child
    Lady Gaga
    Taylor Swift

    All of them have been analysed by you at some point. It’d be very helpful and I’d really appreciate it! Unfortunately, Asian sales outside Japan are quite hard to find/estimate and you’re the only person I trust with this. I don’t think the likes of Katy Perry, Rihanna, Adele (shockingly enough), Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, etc. have sold considerable amounts in Asia, so I won’t bother you with them! After Mariah, which diva would you say has sold the most in Asia? Madonna or Celine? From what I’ve seen, they have sold similar amounts, but I could be wrong, of course.

    Thank you so much for your time and once again, great job with this article.

    1. Hi Trish!

      I’ll have to go back to my files to fully answer you. It won’t be easy as the format is constantly evolving as with experience they get better and better. I’ll try answering you in full ASAP!

  13. FINALLY. Thank you so much for your hard work putting all of these together! This is incredible.
    But just for your information, Janet’s albums from 80’s and 90’s need to be re-certified in so many territories, especially US. Rhythm Nation 1814 and janet. should have been certified Diamond in US by now. She is one of the few down to Earth diva who don’t brag about her albums sales that much. If they re-certify her 80’s and 90’s albums I believe we can see her album sales is actually a bit bigger than this. But again, I cannot thank you enough for this. We are a part of a Rhythm Nation!

    1. Hi Wibisana!

      All album sales mentioned in the article are up to date, none is limited to certifications. There is no way albums like RN1814 or Janet. should be Diamond, they are on 8m overall to date each. Remember her albums were removed from Music Clubs in mid-90s so her Soundscan sales were pretty much comprehensive from that point.

  14. WOW” I always knew Janet was sort of a local act but I never thought she would be that much of a flop anywhere else besides the USA… Is this the same woman whose fans claim she’s the queen of pop? is this the same woman who had the nerve to claim that Madonna’s Erotica album was “shipped back”… bitch, please, that album sold more than Janet’s 90% discography. 50 million in 30 years is really not that impressive. Other than Velvet Rope she was a non-event outside of the USA borders

    1. Her album sales stand at 60M, why are you deflating them by a whole 10M? Petty.

      MJD shouldn’t allow this type of replies on his website. There are plenty of forums like ATRL where you can unleash your shade and flamebait comments.

  15. MJD, could you please provide the chart runs of both the Janet. album as well as Design of A Decade in Australia?

    I knew that the Janet. album was under-certified based on it’s chart run (#1 for 4 weeks, 50 weeks on chart) Still, Janet. had a much better chart run than DOAD (#2 for 3 weeks, 25 weeks on chart) I also heard recently that the Janet. album managed to rebound to #1 in early 1995, nearly 2 years after it’s release! I was wondering perhaps it’s sales could be possibly closer to DOAD’s


    1. Hi Raffi!

      For recent albums you would need to go on Pandora website to get full Top 100 charts, I do not have them by hand at the moment. Of course run inside the Top 50 is available at australian-charts.com

      It is true that Janet. went to #1 in both 1993 and 1995 and it is also true that its run looks way more impressive than the one of DOAD. This being said, the lead in charts is strongly artificial. Janet three runs inside the Top 10 (July 1993, February 1994, February 1995) were brief but also at very weak periods of sales. On its side, DOAD got the full fourth quarter inside the Top 10.

      Year end charts perfectly summarize the situation:
      1993 – Janet. #25
      1994 – Janet. outside Top 50
      1995 – Janet. outside Top 50
      1995 – DOAD #6

      As you can see, in spite of hitting #1 in 1995, the album Janet failed to make the YE Top 50, which highlights how low it sold at that spot – which is confirmed by its quick 3-10-15 drop in following weeks. BTW, at the time under the Annual Top 20 an album used to sell 100,000 copies or less, with only from 5 to 15 albums a year reaching multi-platinum status. From 35 to 60 albums a year were hitting Platinum. Thus, YECs severely reduce the window of strong sales for Janet.

  16. I wanted to ask whether your estimation for the janet. album in the US isn’t a bit too conservative.

    I mean did it really sell less than 100,000 copies outside of SoundScan and BMG music club?
    SoundScan: 7,041,457 (updated 8/1/13) + 860,000 BMG = 7,901,457+ That’s about the same total as reached by “Music Box” by Mariah Carey, for which you stated that it sold well past the 10,000,000 mark!

    I thought that SoundScan was far from being comprehensive in 1993 and there were other small music clubs next to BMG and Columbia House (where janet. wasn’t available)., so that the janet. album is closer to the 9 million mark.

    1. Hi Luminator (& Robby),

      Janet US album Club sales were explained in the related Columbia House article. Virgin stopped selling their albums in all Clubs very early, it wasn’t only an issue with Columbia House but all of them.

      About Soundscan not covering the entire market, it is actually an argument to be even more careful with Janet. As a big pop artist, formulas used by Soundscan to extrapolate scans to the full market were most likely in the high side, something that remained true during the entire 90s. Every evidence suggest white pop acts a la Britney Spears or Aguilera happen to have Soundscan sales higher than their real retail sales for example. Janet case is not that extreme as she did had poorly scanned urban retails on her side but still she was a big star, acts slightly inflated by Soundscan overall in the early days of the system.

      Soundscan and Clubs assumptions should never be regarded as fundamentals to estimate sales to date, the starting point is the RIAA certification, the only tool involving no calculation whatsoever. The album Janet was updated as it was breaking criterias, 3xP in 08/93, 4xP in 11/93, 5xP in 12/93 and 6xP in 04/94. At the time, Soundscan sales were already way past 5 million, retail shipments on about 5,5 million, plus a bit more than 1,5 million after. This latter figure of 1,5 million post-certification shipment is the only one you can safely add to the certified amount. As the album was removed from BMG not that long after, it has obviously not ship much in the mean-time, with a figure around 8 million making perfect sense.

      Music Box is a completely different case. When both albums entered catalog status and should have start selling high amounts at discount price at Columbia House, Mariah Carey was smashing with Daydream, heavily boosting MB. On her side, Janet was not only removed from all music clubs, but DOAD was released destroying the appeal of her studio albums.

      An important element to keep in mind are annual reports from the label. All figures are consistent with them. In concrete words, if you assume the US figure is underestimated, then every unit you add you will need to subtract it from sales abroad. Considering the information available for other markets, the most realistic scenario is the most sensible one – that Janet album sold near nothing outside SS/BMG.

      As for DOAD, the album wasn’t certified 3xP while new. If certs in the long run can be well overdue, during the initial promotion of a record labels used to get them up to date. It is visible in all Janet own albums and A&M also certified many albums all over 1996. Thus, the starting point is that DOAD shipped less than 3m units by the start of 1997. Soon clubs vanished and its Soundscan total isn’t that great so the amount of catalog sales managed afterwards is limited.

      The “it was big on BMG so it must have been big on Columbia” reasoning is wrong, even if some exceptions managed that like Mariah or Shania, the logic was pretty much the opposite. A bit like YouTube vs Spotify, they cannibalize each other. DOAD was fairly expensive at Columbia. Also, BMG Club was a club mostly for young / pop audience, while Columbia was way more into vocal acts / MOR / Folk / Rock / adult music. Obviously, Janet audience was way more BMG-oriented and its initial sales there suggest it was likely an exclusive there during its initial era.

      1. Wow, that was extremely insightful! I fully agree on each point and i can understand your estimation a lot better now.

        Thank you for actually taking the time to deal with all of the questions in the comment section. I really appreciate that!

        Keep up the great work!

      2. Thank you for the explanation. Truly appreciate it!

        Just a few more clarifications regarding DOAD:
        1. How can we be certain that DOAD shipped less than 3M by the start of 1997? Janet was back with Virgin records at that time and could it be that A&M just didn’t bother with its recertification since she is no longer their artist?
        2. You mentioned that soon clubs vanished after 1997 implying that DOAD couldn’t have benefited from additional club sales from either BMG or Columbia. There were still ads as late as 2002 advertising columbia music club in magazines (with DOAD albums included in the listings) so might it have sold more copies in Columbia as you might have originally thought?

        All the best!

        1. Hi again Robbie!

          A&M certified many albums in 1996 including from artists not in their roster anymore. Janet own DOAD music video was certified in 1996! Plus, second year shipments of big holiday season compilation cash-ins are negative more often than not. Retailers used to order a lot of copies for such releases, not needing to be feed anymore the following year. Even now you can see how high Bruno Mars, Metallica and the Rolling Stones are in the IFPI Report, because they got heavily shipped. Adele shipped barely 12% of her last year numbers due to that and this is an album that has been selling all year long. DOAD was dead after 1996 Q1 and there was no digital sales at the time so the gap sales-shipments in first months was even bigger.

          DOAD sold 1,1m units in 1995 and 1,5m+ by the end of 1996, shipped likely about 1,7m for the period at retail only. The strong gap in Soundscan sales in 1995 and its 2xPlatinum award that year means BMG got the album earlier than usual – the norm was to put it on Clubs 3 months after release, which implies they negotiated an exclusivity over the content and certainly committed in a minimum of copies they were going to sell, which is why the cert came so fast and why the unnatural ratio retail / club sales of this release. Thus, you can expect the main part of the 1,48m BMG Club to have come fast, plus 1,7m sales at retail and yet it wasn’t certified 3xP which suggest low – or zero, if indeed as it seems the album was first a BMG exclusive – sales in other retailers. This is even more confirmed as from late 1995 / early 1996 Columbia House adds I have seen, DOAD was indeed absent from there – I would be inclined to change the figure if this ends up proven wrong! I won’t expect it to happen yet as this 2-pages full Columbia House add from Mai 1996 shows Janet being completely absent from it, just like from this 5-pages 1999 ad!

          Since then, it added less than 800,000 units at retail. If you check Columbia sales of all big late 90s albums by doing Certification minus Soundscan plus BMG, you will notice they pretty much disappeared from 1998 to 1999. That’s really the breaking point when BMG took the definitive lead, getting exclusivity on all big albums and letting only low catalog sales for Columbia. Even if we assume DOAD sold 10% of its retail sales at Columbia from 1997 to 2002, which is truly pushing it over the limits as entire club sales went from 8% of the market to 4% of it in the period, most of which were for BMG, that would still represent only about 60,000 copies, just enough to push the total on 4 million once combining with Soundscan / BMG sales.

          Hope it helps!

          1. Hello MJD!
            Thank you for taking the time and explaning this to me. I understand where you are coming from and your logic is sound.
            I do however want to also point out that Columbia continued to advertise DOAD in 1997 and also in 1999 so i do not think the album was completely absent from their roster but you are probably right that it most probably had a exclusivity deal with BMG early on.

            Thank you again and keep up the good work! 🙂
            1997 ad
            1999 ad

          2. Hi again Robby!

            Yes, a few years ago I posted the complete catalog of Columbia House as of 1997 on UKmix and DOAD was definitely part of it from that year, that’s why I used the 1997-2002 period in previous calculation.

            In both articles about Columbia House, I pointed out the “scale” issue with pictured albums selling way more than listed albums, themselves selling more than albums part of the comprehensive club catalog but absent from main ads. The 1997 ad is interesting – it is from Black Enterprise, as it names evidence a black magazine. On SPIN – a generalist magazine – issues from that year it wasn’t present. Kind of normal if we notice the album wasn’t part of the Top 23 sellers from 1997 black catalog, so it was logically absent from cross-over ads. The album was also listed in a couple of Latin magazines too and it made Vibe listing when The Velvet Rope came out. It is interesting to notice those clubs used a logic very similar to FM radios in their albums listings for marketing purpose!

            Also worth highlighting is that albums ranked at #1, #2 and #4 were all Columbia House exclusives showing very well the cannibalization effect a la YouTube vs Spotify!

  17. Hi! I have the same question as Luminator above but for DOAD

    It sold about 2.5M according to soundscan
    Add the 1.48M sold in BMG which isn’t tracked by soundscan
    You get 3.98M sold already enough for the 4x platinum certification
    However this album was available in Columbia Music Club (as were her other AM releases Control, and Rhythm Nation) and considering how big it was in BMG, one would assume it also sold well at Columbia (which was an even bigger music club in terms of membership)

    Did it sell next to nothing at Columbia?

    Thank you in advance

  18. Hello MJD!
    Much appreciated! It would save us all these speculations if Columbia published their bestsellers ala BMG wouldn’t it? One can wish! 🙂
    Thank you again

  19. If Richard Branson said that “Janet” sold over 20 million copies and then gave her 80 million dollars and made her the best paid artist in history for the second time. then that must be truth. You’re not signing to anyone for 120 million dollars with these numbers, yo you’re wrong.

    1. Hi Bojan,

      This is a good wishful thinking for sure. What about Richard Branson’s label financial report that proves Janet. sold only 8 million units Worldwide by March 1994 ? Wishes and facts are very different at times.

      1. Nothing with that. The album was heavily promoted and had hit singles until mid 1995. How do you explain the fact that they made her the highest paid artist of all time after that album? Even if it didn’t sell “over 20 million” as stated in Branson’s autobiography, his number must be closer to the truth than yours. After all, these sales estimates are all guesswork. Unless you have exact number in terms of shipments from a Record company, it’s impossible to know how many copies were sold worldwide.

        1. I man, no big deal. I’m not mad on you or something. You’re just one of us, not some official source. 🙂

      2. No offence, but the only wishful thinking here is that you’re a music industry expert. I respect your hard work and it does help us to be closer to the truth, but you don’t have a final word so please avoid that approach if you want to be taken seriously. The truth is somewhere in between your estimations and record company claims. According to official website and promo videos from the late ’90s she had over 50 million albums sold at that point. According to BBC’s team that was working on Janet Jackson documentary in 2010, she has sold over 65 million albums, which seems very accurate. With singles and videos added, it’s around 110 million records sold. She had several times less releases than Celine or Madonna, not to mention The Rolling Stones and few more artists, and that’s 6 million in pure sales per album in average, which is fantastic. If we exclude her first two albums, because I kinda find it hard to count them as hers, that’s 7, 2 million per album. For instance, The Rolling Stones’ and Celine’s average is 7 million, Madonna’s 9,7 million – using your data, of course. So I don’t understand why are some people disappointed, Janet’s sales were amazing, especially knowing that she was making a kind of music that wasn’t a mainstream in some of the world’s biggest markets. I’m really impressed and no wonder she became the highest paid artists of all time twice during her career. Btw, I know that The Guinness World Records is far from being accurate when it comes to sales, but they claim that “Janet” is the best selling dance album of the ’90s. What would other contenders be?

  20. Janet’s sales are definitely bigger than this. Of course, some people will estimate however they want, pretend that they know everything and believe in whatever they like – and MJD is not an exception. But in reality, guessing global sales would be an impossible task even for Alan Turing. Janet was the world’s top female artist and best paid artist of all time. She got $120 million for 5 albums in the ’90s, Madonna and Michael Jackson $60 million for 7. That would never happen with these imaginary numbers. She was also much bigger global touring act than Madonna until 2004. Bigger gross, bigger attendances and she was touring in much more countries and more continents.

    1. Madonna got $60 million in 1992 for THREE albums NOT 7

      IN 2000 Madonna resigned with Warner with a similar contract and in 2007, Madonna signed the biggest deal for a female artist in history with a $120 million deal with Live Nation. Goodbye Warner’s

      Janet was not a bigger touring artist than Madonna prior to 2004, Janet would make about the same if not slightly more with her 1990 RN and 1993 janet tours than Madonna was making with her 1990 BA tour and 1993 GS tour, BUT…

      Madonna only did 57 dates for BA and 39 for GS, which made 70 million and had the highesr per concert gross by a female artist EVER. A record Madonna would break with her 2008-2009 Sticky and Sweet Tour

      Janet by comparison did something like 150 dates PER tour, her per concert average gross was incredibly low compared to Madonna’s and this was at Janet’s peak.

  21. Janet’s numbers are more than amazing even here where they are, probably, deflated and, considering how many albums she has released, these numbers definitely puts her in a league of the biggest female stars ever. I know that this is “popularity analysis” but when we talk about some “leagues” there is a thing that puts Janet above every mentioned woman here and that’s her artistic achievement. I won’t be going into details now, but that’s the fact and if anyone care they can do a research by themselves. Unlike other mentioned divas, Janet is actually writing her music too, not only lyrics and she is the only one with a #1 hit written solely by her.

    1. It can only be from later in 1994 since as I said, the album shipped 8 million by the end of March 1994 😉

      And then, how do you climb to 20 million? I see you are asking other fanatics to come and post their wishful thinking – feel free, facts will remain what they are 😉

      EDIT: In fact, it is from June 1994 -> link… Thanks for proving my figures!

      1. No, I never said that I’m 100% sure it’s “over 20 million”. As someone pointed out, the truth is somewhere in between your estimations and Branson’s / label’s claims. Their claim of “over 14 million” from 1997 is very possible because they weren’t inflating her or anyone’s numbers, I think, back then. Or at least that was very rare. That became trend later in in 2000s. ABBA was among the first who started doing that. I’d say that she was always very realistic. 160 million is unrealistic and it came 2 years ago from BMG, not Janet’s team nor her label. In the mid and late ’90s they were claiming 14 million for Control, Rhythm Nation 1814 and Janet + 10 million for Design of a Decade and The Velvet Rope. BBC estimated 65 million in 2010 and Janet’s website claimed 70 million in 2008. 5 million more or less, it seems pretty accurate and realistic. Add to it 40+ million singles and videos and that’s 105-110 million records. The latest claim of 160 million could mean anything. She was sampled many times and signed like author of those songs, so maybe they counted those sales as hers too, because realistically they are in some way but I’m not saying that we should count that here, of course. For instance she is credited for Kendrik Lemar’s “Poetic Justice” which is Gold in the USA, “Bust It Baby” by Plies feat. Ne-Yo (Platinum), “Love in This Club, Part II” by Usher feat. Beyoncé and Lil Wayne (Gold)… Not to mention numerous covers, especially in Asia. There are more examples, she’s often signed as an author and people don’t even realize it. And don’t get me wrong, I really don’t have any problem with your numbers, unlike you or some fans of other divas here I really think that they are amazing, and, but I think that they are slightly bigger. Despite all the hard work and data available to us, provided numbers are still not a fact, it’s only speculation. There’s still no way to know exact numbers and meanwhile everyone from Billboard to BBC to The Guardian claim that those 3 albums sold 14 million each.

      2. EDIT: If “Janet” went from 8 million to “over 10 million” in 3 months, then is very possible that it sold another 4 million during the 90s when she was very popular and huge touring force everywhere in the world. Especially because that album was promoted one more year after this and the last single “Whoops Now” was a solid international hit.

        1. Bojan,

          You obviously don’t know how it works. First, medias always put “over”, even if it is a figure rounded up, there is tons of such examples from the IFPI / Sony / EMI etc. Second, sales quoted were gross shipments, the 8 million figure was a net shipment figure, the 10 million is a gross shipment, so no, it doesn’t mean the album shipped 2m new copies. June 1994 is very precisely when the album started to lose ground, it has unlikely ship more copies from that date til the Remixes reissue. Third, it is very cheap to say “she was popular so 4 million more seems ok”, being “popular” means nothing. Fact is by June 1994 the album Soundscan sales were 5,5 million, it added only 1,5 million since, while we know it sold way more than half of its sales Stateside.

          You put a lot of claims in her label’s mouth while they were not label claims. Medias / Managers =/= labels. When she signed her new contract in early 1996, the real reported figure was close to 30 million combined for her previous 3 albums. It is easy to throw away figures from her and there, what matters are the fact. You refer to “guesswork”, that’s just utterly wrong. The “guesswork” represents a tiny percentage of all figures, the huge majority of them are backed by industry’s numbers.

          I can perfectly point out Billboard claiming Thriller sold 100m+ or Back In Black 49m, it doesn’t make those claims true. I already explained that Billboard barely reports what other people tell them, if a manager tells BS they will publish BS. It is funny how you consider for example The Guardian to be a credible source while they have been using my own estimates on various articles and they stated them as the absolute truth just like they got them from the label. You can check this Bowie example, figures on “his best selling LPs” were my estimates from CIF website.

          1. Bojan,

            There is a gap between figures not being “the absolute truth” with a 0-3% margin of error and claiming nonsense 50% higher than the reality, I hope you understand it in spite of your fanatic behavior.

  22. And btw, I don’t know what are some of you here talking about. With exception of “Like A Prayer” and “True Blue”, Janet’s global sales were very similar to Madonna’s. Yes, Janet was always weaker in Europe, but starting from 1989 Madonna was selling much less in the USA the most of the time. Overall sales difference here is depending on the number of releases rather then showing some spectacular difference in their popularity.

    1. I agree. While, at least according to this website, Madonna had four studio albums that sold better than any of Janet’s albums, Janet also had two studio albums that sold better than 13 Madonna’s albums, and one more that sold better than 9 Madonna’s albums. That pretty much puts them in the same category if you ask me. Nobody’s denying that Madonna had bigger success overall, but that indeed wasn’t some spectacularly bigger success if we know that Madonna had much more releases and was making safer music (sonically safer, not lyrically). It makes me wonder what would happen if Janet was more active during her golden years? It’s really weird that she had only two albums during the ’90s instead of using her popularity like Mariah, Celine and Madonna to sell even more, but it’s also very impressive what kind of impact she made and the fact that she sold over 100 million records considering everything. Bow down to all of these divas. That will never happen again.

      1. Bojan,

        You know, there is IPs displayed in the admin section. Posting a message and creating a various accounts (Ivy, Jason, JN are all from you) to agree with yourself and like your own message again and again just shows you as a delusional fanatic. You should start caring more about facts, less about wishes.

        1. No you don’t have ID displayed. 😀 You would know that we aren’t the same person. But it’s even harder to beleive your estimations now because it’s clear that you are Janet hater which doesn’t come as a surprise from MJ fan.

          1. And yes, I agree with Jason. Well said. Your “facts” put Janet in the same league with Madonna.

          2. Haha, you are definitely a winner man. Don’t you think you have been ridiculous enough? Well, at least you are rather funny unlike most other fanatics!

          3. OMG! Just delete our comments if you don’t like them and shut up! Stop arguing with people here like a child. Some of us are actually kids, you aren’t and it’s embarrassing.

          4. So Bojan, you create 4 accounts to back up yourself and then speak about acting as a child? You are right on one thing – your messages will be removed / your IP blocked if you continue trolling. There won’t be more warnings.

        2. That Bojan person is a disaster. Ignore him. He just got banned on UKMix for his unhealthy obsession with Madonna and because apparently everybody who thinks Janet hasn’t sold 100 million albums is a hater and/or a Madonna fan. Everybody who is informed about charts/isn’t a delusional Janet fan trying to re-write history knows damn well that Janet has sold 60 million albums worldwide, give or take a couple of millions. I mean, it’s official record label figures vs a couple of delusional Janet fans who aren’t happy with her mostly underwhelming sales so they inflate them and make things up.

          Oh, and he had multiple accounts on UKMix too. See:


          Also, I literally laughed so hard @ the thought of Madonna and Janet being equal. Funniest thing I read in a while.

          1. I’m neither banned nor do I have two accounts on UKMIX lol
            And no, I don’t think that 11 studio albums and 2 compilations sold in 65 million copies is underwhelming in any way. It’s fantastic. Also, try to find any post in which I claimed that she sold 100 million albums. I said 100 million records, not albums.

          2. And no, Madonna and Janet aren’t equal, artistically. Madonna is not even writing music, only lyrics. They are only equal commercially, like it or not.

          3. LOL, Madonna wrote a lot more songs ALONE than Janet ever did. Madonna was a three-time nominee for Songwriters Hall of Fame. And Janet?

            Yeah agree, Madonna and Janet aren’t equal, artistically. That’s why Madonna is on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (inducted in her first year of eligibility), while Janet is not (even after a 35-year career). Good Day 😉

  23. I said it before and again and again and again. There’s no such thing as The Big 5 with Janet Jackson as part of it. There’s only The Big Four: Madonna, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.

  24. Hi MJD!

    I want to ask you about your estimations on Jamet’s physical singles sales.
    I think some of them are a bit overestimated. According to Billboard’s YEC, That’s The Way Love Goes sold 1,1m in 1993, If sold 600K in the same year, and Any Time Any Place sold 500K in 1994. Yet, you put their worldwide totals at 2,27m, 1,28m and 1,05m respectively. I find it hard to believe each of them sold roughly the same amounts in the US and outside it considering that Janet was rather weak outside the States based on album sales. Also, the former only has certs in UK (silver), Aus (Platinum) and NZ, while the latter doesn’t have any certs outside the US at all!
    Moreover, could you please tell us how you estimated her earlier singles (Control and RN1814). Most of them only have US certs and some with UK silver certs. Still, we don’t have figures for them like the 90’s singles. For example, both Escapade and RN are certified Gold, but how do you know the latter sold more, or how much they sold in the US? They can be anywhere from 500K-999K. Also, Come Back to Me isn’t even certified but you have it over a million copies sold.
    Could you please explain how you came to your figures with such lack of information? Thx

    1. Hi Raffi!

      Singles you mention from the Soundscan era have definitely not sold as much outside the US as they did inside! The gap comes from the US itself. Figures you mention for Soundscan are correct, but I do not stick to them. In fact, just like for albums of that period, we can notice a notable gap between Soundscan figures and RIAA certifications for early 90s hits. Janet herself is concerned as Scream is Platinum while its SS sales are just over 700,000 units. It was certified after 9 full weeks so it wasn’t an award rushed after the 30-days rule before returns happen. From that 1993 YEC, Mariah Carey’s Hero is on 800,000 but still went Platinum by the end of the year, plus the few catalog units that get sold afterwards. The Tag Team single at #1 of the year sold 2,8m in 1993 and 700,000 in 1994 as per Soundscan but went 4xPlatinum from February 1994 as per the RIAA. Thus, to be consistent between all singles, I need to adjust accordingly. If I ignore that Soundscan – RIAA gap when it isn’t directly visible, I would be putting ‘low’ SS sales for singles on 500-700,000 units or just over 1 million, while songs in the 750,000-800,000 range would jump on 1 million or more as they will often be Platinum in reality.

      For 80s singles it is obviously way more complex, or at least less reliable. There is still various ways to identify which songs sold more. The best way is for sure the Sales chart – or even identifying a report stating the figure, which are more numerous than we think. It isn’t always available, far from that, but even with the Hot 100 we can have tips to gauge sales between intervals.
      – the hot 100 run obviously, a #2 will always be more likely to be a better seller than a #8 hit even if it is not granted
      – the single #, e.g. with a similar run between a 1st and 5th single from one album, the 1st will be in all likelihood the top seller, while the 5th realistically airplay-driven
      – the “jump”, on pre-Soundscan charts we can notice a jump achieved thanks to the physical release. It enabled songs to enter high (Let It Be, ABC etc), and other to at least increase very fast. This pace of increase is very telling as per the sales achieved, airplay in the other side is slower
      – the period must be reminded, summer / Christmas hits are always bigger sellers in singles
      – the date of the certification. It helps a lot to know if a single hits Gold after 1 month or after 4 months
      – other countries sales. Although less reliable, singles that were efficient in selling well in Australia, UK, continental Europe etc were likely stronger in the US too. It happened many times during the 80s with various singles from one era having similar Hot 100 runs but very different fortunes in other countries. It was due to the artist dominating airplay lists, thus runs in other countries end up more efficient to gauge US sales than the own US Hot 100 chart as surprising as it may seem
      – Mediabase / Spotify figures. Surprising too, the strongest a song remains on Mediabase / Spotify, the weakest it likely was as a seller at first. If two singles from the same album peaked at #5 in the US, one has 3 billion mediabase airplay since 1997 the over 100 million, it is almost certain that the former was much more played upon release too, while the other managed a similar run thanks to sales
      – audits of other artists. When label partners got mass audits and the one we are studying wasn’t listed, then we can know it failed to reach the criteria needed

      As you can see there is no exact science, the least information there is, the highest is the part of estimates. With those tips, we can already start to see it a bit clearer and with experience while we can’t grant at 100% the accuracy, we can at least grant the consistency of figures across all artists 😉

      1. Thanks for elaborating MJD! Those factors you’ve mentioned on your post for 80’s singles are very precise and truly useful in estimating which single sold more! Regarding Soundscan era singles, do you mean that singles back then had their own “clubs” or unregistered sales like albums, hence the gap between certifications and Soundscan sales? I suppose it’s because Soundscan didn’t fully cover the market during the early-mid 90’s. Has this situation improved during the late 90’s/early 2000’s, or was there still are large gap between certs and Soundscan sales?

        1. Hi Raffi!

          Exactly, for singles too Soundscan sales appear to be fairly incomplete. Supposedly the situation improved over the years although as sales of that format went down / many singles started to not be released anymore, it gets harder to get as many concrete examples of Soundscan – RIAA gaps!

  25. Some of her fans in Ukmix say that:

    “That would be a weird theory to think that Janet Jackson (Billboard’s 2nd most successful act of the 1990s) didn’t sell anything at Columbia House. His logic just isn’t true at all!

    And then he also went on to say that “Design of a Decade” was fairly expensive at Columbia? It was featured in all of their ads for buy 12 for 1 even in 2002! https://books.google.com/books?id=APMDA … 22&f=false

    1997: https://books.google.com/books?id=aV4EA … 22&f=false

    1999 as well for Columbia House – https://books.google.com/books?id=YG5Yu … 22&f=false”

    “He said record clubs vanished by 1997, yet Columbia House was promoting Design of A Decade up til 2002 (the latest I found). Could have been even later. Columbia House Music Club and BMG merged in 2005. http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/201 … ut_of.html

    Columbia House carried all of Janet’s album. According to him he is making it sound like it was impossible for Columbia House to sell a single Janet album despite all of the ads that ALWAYS feature her albums!”

    “In 2005 “All for You” was still being sold and promoted as well. So his Virgin theory is wrong as well. https://books.google.com/books?id=DTBLA … BDoAQhAMAY”

    What would you say for the Columbia House informations that they have?!

    1. Hi Marcus!

      It seems her fans aren’t aware of Janet Jackson’s discography 😉

      Her first big albums and the compilation covering them – Design of a Decade – were A&M albums. I carefully explained with various Billboard links how Virgin moved away from Clubs in mid-90s, e.g. the record label of Janet from her ‘Janet.’ 1993 album.

      The UKmix thread covering the history of the Columbia House was opened by myself 10 years ago, I really doubt I need enlightenment on that. ALL albums were eligible for the 12 for 1 offer for new subscriptions, this has nothing to do with the price of a record and barely proves being putting out such cheap arguments don’t know a thing about this subject. You can check the catalog listing from the thread I just linked to see that
      1) only A&M albums were available
      2) Design of a Decade price was $16.98, way higher than its retail price

      Contradicting that clubs vanished from the end of the 90s is a lack of knowledge. They were already only 7,9% of the market by 1999 and 4,0% by 2002. That percentage isn’t related to one club but all of them combined. By 2002, Design of a Decade was moving roughly 50,000 units a year, how much her fanatics would expect it to sell on Columbia, a Club on its way to be eaten by BMG as it was bleeding like hell?

      I don’t think giving much weight to fanatic trolls like Bojan (and all his additional accounts to confirm his own comments) is worth it though. It is known for long how ignorant he is and much he can’t care less about facts. He is as blind as one might be. No matter how much wishful thinking one puts into it, facts remain what they are.

  26. Janet Jackson as far as I knew was a big TOURING act, like tina turner was and beyonce is now. She didnt have a universal pop sound like whitney, mariah and celine had that would attract an old audience. To me, she was a r&b superstar, not a pop singer like the media would promote her. Her music has a heavy focus on rhythm and beats because she is a DANCER who sings, not a serious singer. Anyway I think back in the day she reportedly got a contract from for $80 million but im sure that contract included touring revenue and movies. That figure couldnt have been from album sales. Here are some touring receipts :
    https://math.illinoisstate.edu/day/courses/old/312/toursdata, http://www.mtv.com/news/1451603/u2-nsync-backstreet-top-list-of-2001s-biggest-concert-grossers/ and her first tour http://articles.latimes.com/1991-12-26/entertainment/ca-1309_1_grateful-dead/2 Was this $80 million contract renewal something that really happened MJD??? http://articles.latimes.com/1996-01-12/news/mn-23892_1_janet-jackson

  27. The pop star said Madonna’s “Sex” is “a horrible book. She didn’t even sell that many albums. Her last album sold 2 million. They shipped it, but it got shipped back,” Jackson said.


    Janet Jackson really used to think she sold THAT many albums, so she confidently dissed Madonna’s album sales. 😀

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