Bonus Gift: The truth about Britney Spears’ album sales – Part 3

Latin America March 2009 (556)

Europe – Totals

With as many as 21 countries covered in this study, there aren’t many markets left in Europe. In 1999, at the start of Britney‘s career, those 21 countries saw 1.37 billion albums being sold out of the 1.71 billion total in Europe (nearly 97%).

Missing countries with registered music industries are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine. During the Asian study, I mentioned how CD sales are way more relevant to judge a market’s strength for foreign artists than cassette sales. Out of the 34 million albums sold in those countries, a mere 5,4 million were CD sales. This is mostly due to both Romania (15,6 million) and Ukraine (6 million) solid local cassette markets. The sales of CDs from all those countries combined are barely 10% to 25% higher than Czech Republic and Hungary individually. To consider the few cassettes sales of foreign albums in all missing countries, I’ll weight them on par with those latter two countries combined.

The below tables list all figures from all countries:

Cumulative tallies per region and the overall European totals are displayed below:

When there is so much new information, it is key to do a return to prior figures The following table lists the total of the 10 countries used on all CSPC articles to gauge the comprehensive European sales. It also contains the total from those same countries as adjusted in this article, the extrapolation of that adjusted with our standard formula, and the real total of the entirety of Europe with the data from all countries. Thanks to that method, we can analyze both gaps, the one due to estimation errors, and also due to the formula flaws.

From the 2,174,000 total to the former 1,96 million estimate on Britney‘s CSPC article, the estimate of Greatest Hits is more than 200,000 units short of the real tally, the largest gap by far. We notice this gap is roughly 100,000 units in both the 10 countries sampled and in the calculation. How should we interpret that? It means the error is as much due to the non-standard sales distribution across Europe than errors in country-specific estimates. The odd distribution is visible with Dutch sales being lower than Finnish ones, or Spanish units sold by that compilation falling short of the units it sold in Denmark. As for the proper estimate flaws, the figures were too low due to various certifications that were audited too late like in Scandinavian countries.

Estimates of all albums were within striking distance of the reality with gaps in the 0-4,8% range. The overall error is 1,6% only, or in absolute terms, a mere 221,000 units out of a 14 million total.

An interesting point is that out of the 8 albums, estimates of 4 were on the high side and 4 in the low side, proving again that figures we provide aren’t conservative nor over board. Those small gaps are due to the few anomalies in runs / certs / other raw data rather than regular pessimistic / optimistic interpretations.

The return to prior figures on the formula is rather good too. To extrapolate the European total, we use UK sales * 1,05 plus remaining 9 markets * 1,3. As many as 6 albums end up with a figure off by 2,4% or less from the reality with this method. The only two distinct cases are Greatest Hits and Blackout, both albums which sold very poorly in main central European markets such as Germany and then went on to sell very well in Scandinavia or Russia. In fact, the 62,000 units gap of Blackout is almost entirely due to its sales in this latter country. As the huge majority of albums sell nowhere near that amount in Russia, it implies the formula is indeed very accurate for most releases.

Only one part left to complete this series!

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!


Sources: IFPI, RIAJ, Billboard, BPI, OCC, SNEP, IFOP, GFK, Promusicae, FIMI, AFP, IRMA, ZPAV, NVPI, MÜ-YAP, De Megaman, Way Back Machine,, Zobbel,

23 thoughts on “Bonus Gift: The truth about Britney Spears’ album sales – Part 3”

  1. Oh wow, thank you so much for this, MJD! I’m very pleased to see that all of her albums have increased in Europe, with the exception of “In The Zone” and “The Singles Collection”. I always had a feeling that “Greatest Hits: My Prerogative” and “Circus” were both eligible for 2x Platinum and 1x Platinum respectively, and I’m glad the figures on confirm that!

    Now regarding her sales, there are some very impressive results here, particularly her sales in Belgium, Russia, Switzerland, etc. Her sales in France are also very impressive compared to her peers, with even her 3rd album (“Britney”) outselling Christina Aguilera’s entire discography, including soundtracks and compilation albums!

    I think as far as the big markets go, her sales are impressive everywhere, except in the UK and Italy. Don’t get me wrong, she has great sales in those countries as well, but Oops!… I Did It Again selling 950k units in the UK is not as impressive as selling nearly 1 million units in Germany, and …Baby One More Time selling 200k units Italy is definitely not as impressive as selling nearly 200k units in Belgium.

    Overall I’d say she’s done great in Europe, at least up until 2009. Once again, thank you so much for doing these articles! As a huge Britney fan, I’ve always wanted to know her sales even in the smallest countries like Hungary and Czech Republic, so this detailed information is very helpful. I assume the next part will focus on Oceania and South Africa, right? Looking forward to that one!

    By the way, do you know the sales for B In The Mix 1 & 2 in Europe and Asia? I assume they didn’t sell much, but it’d be nice to add up those sales as well.

  2. Hi again MJD. When you update Britney’s CSPC article, can you please add an extra page for Greatest Hits: My Prerogative? I see that a lot of figures for this compilation have changed so the breakdown you have posted under the comment section is no longer accurate.

    Thanks! 🙂

  3. Amazing, thanks so much 😀 Cant wait for the updated CSPC article with these new figures. When can we expect that one?

  4. A long time ago this was posted on Ukmix forums, I assume it was fake as the information provided here is different

    Italy albums

    3x platinum
    Baby one more time – 300,000

    2x platinum
    Oops! I did it again – 200,000
    Greatest hits my prerogative – 160,000

    Britney – 100,000
    In the zone – 100,000

    Blackout – 35,000/40,000 (depends when it got the certification)
    Circus – 35,000

    Do you know anything about this? And GREAT job with this part of the article!

    1. Hi Bree!

      I expect those “certifications” to come from Frankie. I had words with him many years ago but he was always stating his estimations in “certifications equivalent”, which was very misleading, and still is to this day!

      And thanks 😉

  5. Wonderful. Thank you for putting all these figures together for us. The Britney Army appreciates your hard work! 🙂

  6. Hi! How much has Britney sold in total in EU including all studio, greatest hits and remix albums? Thanks!

  7. Hi MJD! Really enjoyed reading through all 24 pages. Britney does have some great sales in Europe! How would you say she compares to her peers, like Xtina, Backstreet Boys, Beyonce/Destiny’s Child, Avril Lavigne, and *NSYNC?

    Also, what countries will be covered in the final part of the series? Are WW totals going to be included?

    Keep up the great work. 😉

    1. Hi Trish!

      From her generation, I can think only of Coldplay and Eminem sold more in Europe. She is on par with the BSB and the combo DCs / Beyonce if we put them together, but then she easily outsold all the remaining ones you mention, likely even combined.

      1. Hi MJD. I was just wondering. Would you consider her sales in Europe as big as the likes as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston?

        1. Hi Michelle!

          Well, no, she is clearly on a lower league. There is many females with albums at 5m or more in Europe, Britney has never been as massive in Europe as she has been elsewhere.

          1. Hi MJD. I was just wondering. If you put into consideration that a lot of her albums which did well during the mid and late 00s, when the market was starting collapse. Would she have been at least as big as Mariah in Europe. Just curious.

  8. Hi again MJD! So I just came across these certifications from Greece…

    “In The Zone” got certified Gold in 2004 for 10,000 units shipped (

    “Greatest Hits: My Prerogative” got certified Gold in 2004 for 10,000 units shipped (

    “Circus” got certified Gold in March 2009 for 7,500 units shipped (

    These certification come from the IFPI, so I assume they’re legit? What do you think about these? I find it odd that didn’t include them

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