Bonus Gift: The truth about Britney Spears’ album sales – Part 1

NORTH AMERICA – Canada

So, how does this work? By 2006, Britney.com listed “sales equivalent certifications” listed in the second column. The following two columns give you the related minimum and maximum sales each album then sold. For real certifications, this max value doesn’t make sense since they are not automatic. The albums may have topped higher certifications but haven’t been audited. Here, awards were sales to date converted, so the max value becomes meaningful.

On columns 5 to 7 the same information is listed, but as listed by 2011 in the website. In-between, in 2008, the Canadian music industry changed the Gold and Platinum criteria from 50,000/100,000 to 40,000/80,000 respectively. As a result, sales converted into certifications were impacted. This resulted in, for example, Oops! being listed as 10xP instead of 8xP.

This is where the process gets incredibly powerful. With the criteria being lower, this gives a smaller possible interval for sales. If we take the example of In The Zone, rather than sales anywhere from 300,000 to 400,000 units, we now know it sold at least 320,000 units.

Even better, this process provides figures for uncertified or outdated albums. Oops! remains 5xPlatinum since June 2000. This information confirms it sold over 800,000 units. Greatest Hits, which isn’t certified at all, sold at least 160,000 units and at most 240,000 copies.

An interesting case is the one of Baby One More Time. By 2006, it had sold at most 1,1 million units, by 2011 it was at least on 1,12 million. This illustrates that Britney.com wasn’t switching criteria, but rather updating numbers with ongoing catalog sales forming a jump in sales during the years.

The last column displays the estimate from us on our CSPC analysis. Britney’s debut album was overstated with a 1,4 million estimate. This was assumed because the album sold 14 million in the US, while it went Diamond in both the US and Canada at the exact same date, December 9 1999. As per Soundscan, the album did sell a little less in proportion in Canada with 856,000 sales by August 2000 while it was on 9,7 million in the US. So it seems Canadian retailers had been more optimistic before the 1999 holidays, ordering heavy amounts of discs. The figure of Oops was slightly rounded too high, although we need to consider our figure is from 2016 while the interval was relative to sales from six years ago.

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

  • Baby One More Time – 1,130,000
  • Oops!… I did It Again – 880,000
  • Britney – 400,000
  • In The Zone – 350,000
  • Greatest Hits, My Prerogative – 175,000
  • Blackout – 180,000
  • Circus – 260,000
  • The Singles Collection – 50,000

15 thoughts on “Bonus Gift: The truth about Britney Spears’ album sales – Part 1”

  1. Hi MJD! Thank you for doing this article! I’ve always been confused about the sales/certifications provided on Britney.com, so I really appreciate that you’re explaining this to us, and the fact that you’re providing figures for the majority of her albums. She’s had a very big career in Latin America, even if some figures have been inflated in the past (like the Brazilian sales for “…Baby One More Time” and “Oops!… I Did It Again”), the real figures are also very impressive.

    Could you please post your estimations for “Femme Fatale”, “Britney Jean,” and “Glory” in Latin America? Not only I’d love to see the breakdown for those albums, but I’d love to know her overall sales in Latin America as well.

    Also a small question, isn’t 50,000 a bit too conservative for The Singles Collection in Brazil? The shipment codes we have add up to 70-75,000, so I’m a bit confused about that.

    Thank you so much for all your work again, and I’m looking forward to the European and Asian sales!

    1. Hi Stephen!

      As you can guess I came to build this article while preparing the comprehensive update of Britney CSPC article, so all estimates for most recent albums will come too!

      The figure of The Singles Collection in the list is the one from Mexico, typo now fixed! Its codes are up to 62,500 although the last one is likely not fully sold – it was a big one!

      BTW, you can decide if you prefer Europe or Asia first 😉

      1. Fair point about the CSPC article! And thank you for fixing the typo! 65,000 definitely seems accurate.

        I’d love it if you could do Asia first and then Europe. 🙂 Thank you so much again!

        1. MJD, could you later do the same for Mariah? I would eternally be thankful for an overview over her stats in Asia, since that is her personal “region of controversial figures”.

          Thanks in advance and massive props to your work and this nice idea of “gifting” fans and chart-followers with further insights!

          1. Hi Luminator!

            There is such list of certifications for Mariah in Asian countries except for a few specific cases, so a similar article isn’t possible.

            I’m taking time to get into every country details to build better formulas for other artists though. I’ll be posting curves of Asian individual markets evolution in the last 25 years to help visualizing better sales there, most likely Mariah will be the example used to illustrate the calculations!

  2. Wow, this is a very nice thing to do, thanks you very much 🙂

    Would you say her sales in Mexico+South America are weak, good, or great?

    1. Hi Eternium!

      Her sales are definitely great! For example Circus sold over 200k in Latin America, by 2008 standards for international albums that clearly huge. It was among English Top 20 albums of the year both in 2008 and 2009 in Mexico, at #11 and #16. Even Coldplay’s Viva La Vida hasn’t done as well, being #8 in 2008 then missing the Top 20 in 2009. The only albums which outperformed it charts-wise at the time were Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Metallica’s Death Magnetic, albums from truly gigantic artists there!

  3. It’s crazy how she’s bigger in South America than many bigger divas like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Barbra Streisand

    1. Hi Trish!

      As you may have noticed with examples like Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, One Direction or Justin Bieber, Disney / Teen acts are truly massive in Latin America. In the other side, there isn’t that much market for adult contemporary stuff, except when they are translated in Portuguese / Spanish or used in a popular telenovelas.

      Disney series, telenovelas, teen acts, live shows covered by TV news… in other words, those markets are heavily TV-oriented in terms of promotion, with radios not as much a key as elsewhere. Thus, it is crucial to have a strong visual impact. That’s why even monster acts like Whitney smashed in this region only when they had a popular movie to back them up!

  4. Where does the 14 million RIAA certification for BOMT in the US come from? The album sold 12 million combined with both Nielsen and BMG Music Club sales. I thought albums which were big sellers on BMG tended to not be on Columbia House and vice versa, indeed, were Britney’s albums even available from Columbia? So where does the extra two million from BOMT come from?

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