Bonus Gift: The truth about Britney Spears’ album sales – Part 2

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 East asia – Japan

Although the availability of precise figures from Oricon creates the illusion of a market under control, we know how difficult it is to figure out the reality when analyzing them.

The main reason for this complexity is the ineligibility of imports until 2003. They represented roughly one third of sales for foreign releases, but this ratio was very different from one album to another.

Britney’s debut album, …Baby One More Time entered at #17 in March 1999 with 20,270 copies sold. It was certified Gold (100,000) that same month and then Platinum (200,000) in May. Sales from Oricon were higher than those levels when they were awarded. By the time of the Platinum award the album had indeed shifted 235,000 units. Thus, certifications bring us no information about copies imported. When BOMT left the Top 100 in August, it was on almost 280,000 units scanned. The #100 album was averaging 3,000 units per week so there is still plenty of room for additional sales. Assuming an average of 1,500 copies per week until May 2000 when its promotion came to a close, that represents an extra 60,000 units for a total of 340,000 units. From the release of Oops! to today, the album added about 10% of its initial sales in other markets, applying this ratio to Japan we get a calculated retail sales to date figure of 375,000 units.

Obviously, this misses imports. Thanks to’s list of awards we know they weren’t high enough to push the album over half a million total sales, although it was most likely fairly close.

Oops sold 242,000 units during its first 14 weeks according to Oricon. Sales of this album were much more frontloaded, plus the Japanese market doesn’t boom at Christmas, thus it didn’t that much after. Estimates are on 1,500 units per week for five additional months and then 10% more units up to now for a grand total of 300,000 units. Again, this is without imports which were increasing in proportion every year.

Then comes Britney. It sold only 191,130 units as per Oricon, nevertheless it is mentioned with over 500,000 sales by While surprising, this isn’t inconsistent with available data. In fact, the album is the only pre-2003 set for which we have a piece of information about imports as it sold 99,000 units from December 2001 to November 2002. Interestingly, the album’s first three weeks of sales through imports are missing as they fall into Oricon’s previous year. This absence of early imports is crucial as Britney sold nearly 107,000 national copies during those weeks. To resume:

The figure of 60,000 units is an estimate of the 37 uncharted weeks to November 2002, a high one considering the album has been in and out the Top 100 for several months. If we use a simple cross multiplication to solve the question, it results in 73,000 imports during the first three weeks. The total is then 423,000 overall copies by November 2002, a figure much closer to half a million than the initial Oricon figure of 191,000 sales.

From the In The Zone era imports have been included in the charts, which had also been extended from a Top 100 to a Top 300. This massively improves their coverage. The Greatest Hits estimate shown in Chartmasters’ article was too high because of The Singles Collection cannibalizing its sales, which goes on to show that every detail is important. You can’t forget about discography dynamics while estimating a specific release. It is confirmed at 750,000 units by 2006, it then sold 15,000 units a year, until 2009’s compilation, and roughly 5,000 units per year since.

Merging all the data together concludes on the following album sales to date:

  • Baby One More Time – 500,000
  • Oops!… I did It Again – 425,000
  • Britney – 525,000
  • In The Zone – 450,000
  • Greatest Hits, My Prerogative – 840,000
  • Blackout – 100,000
  • Circus – 140,000
  • The Singles Collection – 100,000

45 thoughts on “Bonus Gift: The truth about Britney Spears’ album sales – Part 2”

  1. Thank you so much for doing this, MJD! There are some VERY impressive figures here, her sales in Indonesia and the Philippines are the most impressive to me, with her debut album topping the 300k mark in both countries. Those are truly massive numbers for Southeast Asia! I could be wrong, but I don’t think even Mariah Carey pulled such numbers there. And to put things into perspective, none of Britney’s albums topped the 300k mark in Italy, a much bigger music market for both local and international acts.

    Regarding Japan, it’s a shame that “Greatest Hits: My Prerogative” never actually topped the 1 million mark, but at least “Britney” was upgraded by 75,000 copies! Japan may not be her strongest Asian market, but she was very a consistent seller from her debut until 2005. Interesting that “Britney” happens to be her best selling studio album in Japan and Thailand.

    I also noticed that you upgraded her first two albums in Asia! I believe you had “…Baby One More Time” at 1,575,000 and “Oops!… I Did It Again” at 1,600,000 back in August. Hopefully the latter will be closer or maybe even top the 19 million mark when you do the CSPC update!

    I’m glad we finally have some real information regarding her sales in Asia, after so many years of fake figures and certifications. You did a wonderful job once again. 🙂

    PS: When you do Europe, I hope you can include Belgium as it’s one of her biggest European markets, as well as Ireland! Turkey would be an interesting country to study as well, seeing that claims “Oops!… I Did It Again” as a Diamond album.

    1. Also would really appreciate if you could include Denmark in Europe as it seems to be a much bigger market for her than Finland. Thank you so much for everything again! 🙂

      By the way, I just checked some IFPI archives and only 12.1 million albums (CD+cassette) were sold in the Philippines in 1999, thus making the 330k figure even more impressive. I always thought the Philippines was a bigger market than Taiwan, Thailand, etc for some reason!

    2. Hi Stephen!

      Don’t place your hopes too high for Turkish sales of Oops as Diamond there is “only” equivalent to 2xPlatinum 😉

      Thanks for the nice comments overall, it is great to see all details appreciated. I can’t really say I upgraded / downgraded some figures, I have let myself guided by certifications intervals and totals appeared by themselves!

      You are right about the Philippines, Britney sales there are terrific, I also agree that even Mariah may have never moved such big numbers. MC out of this world sales in Japan and South Korea made all of us believe she was the top seller all over Asia, but various elements are starting to pop up proving the opposite. All massive sellers got reported here and there at some point, yet very few concrete information is available for Mariah in countries like the Philippines. The share of her sales reported for Music Box coming from SK / Taiwan only also suggest way weaker figures in that country or Indonesia. She is also never mentioned among top foreign sellers in India. When Titanic Soundtrack broke records in China-related countries, Sony manager used Michael Jackson as the reference for their previous top sellers rather than her.

      All those elements put together tend to support the fact she never sold that much in those markets, exactly the opposite of Britney which got insanely bigger proportionally there than in Japan. For MC fans, I prefer noticing that when it seems she never sold *that much*, I mean it in comparison to her own standards in other Asian countries, she most likely did much better than the huge majority of foreign artists still.

      Back to Britney, as you know Stephen many fans have been trying to inflate BOMT / Oops for long due to wishful thinking only, trying to prove those albums sold way more than they really did in countries like the US and Brazil. It is rather ironical to see that sales from the Philippines / Indonesia will actually serve their point while even the most enthusiast fans wouldn’t have expect figures as massive there!

      As for European countries covered, they do not include only the usual 10 ones I use on my breakdowns – ALL countries listed on will be studied 😉

    3. Actually “Britney” produces many hit singles in Asia. Probably stronger than her first two albums. Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman was very2 big. Because we Asians just love Ballads songs. Overprotected was very2 big here too. Probably one of Britney most famous single in my country Malaysia and one of the strongest in Asia as a whole.

  2. Happy to see “Britney” increasing to 525k in Japan, becoming her best selling studio album there.
    All of her figures look great, especially Thailand and Philippines, I was shocked by the 300k figures.

    But I really hate the sales drops from Britney to In the Zone, considering it’s the much much better album. 🙁

    1. Hi but!

      In absolute terms, both Britney and ITZ are going down, but in relative terms, their Asian sales still represent more than 75% and 50% of BOMT sales respectively, which is quite impressive especially if we consider how much various countries there saw their market collapse from 1999 to 2003!

  3. Great post! I have no idea that Philippines was a good market for international acts. I read that the mexican singer Thalía, made a great success there, and sold 1 million copies of her album Nandito Ako. I really doubt about this number, but now I think that maybe it can be possible… Do you know something about that?!

    1. Hi Marcus!

      It is true that Thalia has been big in the Philippines, although as you can guess the 1 million figure is wrong. The claim came out after the song’s original singer claimed it. He says the song “sold 1 million records”, he never claimed that “Thalia 1997 album of this name” sold that number. In fact, several singers sung it, plus it was both a single and an album for Thalia and other artists.

      Fearless by Taylor Swift went 9xPlatinum in this country for 135,000, which goes on to show how much US-oriented the market may be. The top seller among youngsters yet is Bruno Mars thanks to his roots from there, his debut album sold past 300,000 units in the country.

  4. How does Britney compare to her peers in Asia? Is she bigger than them? I love these topics, excited to see Europe 😀

    1. Hi Eternium!

      She is definitely bigger than many artists in various Asian places, although she can’t handle Westlife success there ;p

    1. Hi Pat!

      Greatest Hits did sell very well! I understand your comment yet as if we compare sales elsewhere, selling less than 500k in Japan with albums that moved 300k-ish in each South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines is proportionally small!

  5. MJD, how do you explain In the Zone selling only 5000 copies in India? Especially after “Britney” sold 35k and the biggest single from that album was a Bollywood inspired track.

    1. Hi again but!

      As you surely understood I believe in markets mechanics which conclude on very linear sales overall. A fan base isn’t going to disappear in a minute, just like a an low selling album in most countries won’t explode for no reason in one market. Thus, I agree that ITZ not being even Gold in India intrigued me. I looked for an explanation unsuccessfully when writing the article as everything seems normal – the market went down by only 14%/10% in 2002/2003 respectively, the ITZ album was also release just like anywhere else in India back in 2003.

      After your comment right now I re-checked last available list of awards to make sure I haven’t miss a certification for ITZ in India and when using CTRL+F it seems the explanation appears – there is indeed no certification for ITZ in India, but the country is listed 2 times distinctively in Greatest Hits’ breakdown! I think you will agree with me that it looks like a typo and one of those two occurrences is indeed related to ITZ’ sales rather than those of GH 😉

      1. Just checked out the link. So the conclusion is that In the Zone is Platinum in India but the album’s “India” mention got mistakenly placed in MP’s list of Platinum awards. Right?

        1. At least it looks like it! That’s a pure assumption but it kinda makes sense considering her remaining album’s sales 🙂

  6. HI MJD! I’m a Britney fan from the Philippines and I could say that Britney is really a huge act here. Her singles at least up to Femme Fatale era were chart toppers. (It is such a regret that the country does not have an official chart). And you are right about the american culture well implanted in the Philippines. The decline of sales from Britney to In The Zone to Blackout in the Philippines could be attributed to the more mature imaging that Britney took on. While the Filipinos embrace the American culture, they are generally more conservative. During In The Zone, Britney was bolder, sexier. Whereas, in her first three albums, she was sexy but more on the cool-sexy side. Nonetheless, she remains a household name. Even farmers know Britney in the Philippines.

    I’m just curious about your source of the sales data in the Philippines. I emailed Sony Music Philippines once requesting for Britney’s albums sales from Baby to Britney Jean but they replied to me saying they could not divulge such info. Did you have official sources? Not that I doubt your estimations, I think they are really sensible. Thank you and you did a good job.

  7. I have been reading your website for almost 1 year now and I want to congrate you because every single article has been on point and a pleasure to read through as a chart fan 🙂 I’m really enjoying this series about Britney Spears. I’m looking forward reading part 3 too!

    1. Hi Javier,

      Thanks!! I belong to Chart fan’s community myself so it’s a pleasure to help it as much as possible and see people sharing my love for the music industry and its artists enjoying it! 🙂

  8. Hello, very nice job! I have a question for you, who do you think has sold more albums in all Asia..Britney Spears or Avril Lavigne? I know Avril is way bigger in Japan plus Taiwan and some other regions, but Avril might not be as big as Britney Spears in Korea,Philippines, Thailand and all those other regions…Who is the top international female seller of the 2000s in all Asia? Thank you very much. & I hope you can post Avril Lavigne’s sales one day too!

    1. Hi DuffLavigne!

      It would be a tough call! My instant feeling about it would be that Avril most surely has the biggest sellers in Asia out of the two but that overall Britney sold more as she had 5 very solid sellers. I would need to get into Avril’s details to provide you a definitive answer though!

  9. Hey MJD!

    Britney numbers are really impressive especially in Japan.
    Could you do the same for Destiny child & Beyoncé? (Asia)
    I think many Bey stans would be happy about it.

    1. Hi Bett!

      Sadly those articles are possible thanks to breakdowns only, it isn’t possible to replicate the same ones for other artists. There is a lot of ‘lessons learned’ from them yet that will be re-used on all new breakdowns!

  10. Hi !!! Im a big fan of Britney and your website, amazing job!!!

    Can you help me to estimate Femme Fatale sales in Asia? I have some info that might be accurate…

    In Malaysia, Femme Fatale sold 4.000 copies as of May 8 2011 (1 month)
    By June 9 2011 it was almost 15.000 copies

    By August 05 2011, Femme Fatale sold 17.500 copies in Taiwan

    By April 2011 Femme Fatale reached gold (5.000) in Singapore and Korea, 1 month later

    Amazon China Top 10 Selling Western Albums 2011 
    1. Avril Lavigne – Goodbye Lullaby (9,999 copies) 
    2. Michael Jackson – Michael 
    3. Various Artists – 2010 Grammy Nominees 
    4. Taylor Swift – Speak Now 
    5. Taylor Swift – Fearless 
    6. Andrea Bocelli – Amore 
    7. Lady Gaga – The Fame 
    8. Justin Bieber – My World 2.0 
    9. Britney Spears – Femme Fatale 3,000-4,000
    10. Michael Jackson – HIStory

    How true is this? thanks!!

    1. Hi Marlon!

      Thanks for all those links! I’ll be verifying all of them when compiling the new CSPC version of Britney – shouldn’t be long anymore 🙂

  11. Hi MJD,

    Congratulations for your amazing work!

    I’m happy that Britney is so popular in asia and latin america.
    In a few days, she will release a new edition of Glory (japan tour edition). When you update her CSPC, do you include this edition in studio album part or other release part?

    1. Hi Trykaser!

      In those new editions releases, I’m down to the decision of national charts! More often than not, they are merged for chart purpose so I can do nothing else but merge them too 🙂

  12. Hello MJD,

    Not sure if Turkey is geographically considered a part of Europe but can you please include it in your upcoming article about Britney’s European album sales? I “read” that the Oops album sold 300k there. Is it false or true? I’m interested to know her album sales in that country. I would really appreciate it if you answered my request.

  13. Hey MJD!

    How would you say how successful beyonce is in asia?
    Her first three albums was very successful there and also Destiny child was huge?
    And compared with her peers like rihanna?
    Rihanna vs Beyonce in Asia? Who is bigger ?

  14. Taiwan certification criteria for international artists are as below:
    1996.8-2002.2 50,000(1P); 25,000(1G)
    2002.3-2005.12 30,000(1P); 15,000(1G)
    2006.1-2007.10 20,000(1P); 10,000(1G)
    2007.11-2008.12 14,000(1P); 7,000(1G)
    2009.1-Now 10,000(1P); 5,000(1G)
    The market in Taiwan was at its peak from 1996 to 2001. Baby and oops estimation are way too less.

    1. Hi Cyrus,

      Please refer to the first part introduction. used criterias that were current when they updated their lists, e.g. first in 2006 and then with 2008 levels. Awards are not officialy certified and do not meet levels as per the release date.

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