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

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Argentina appears to be a tricky case with sales officially certified higher than real sales. What happened there? Well, the fact is that the Argentinian database was a mess (it has been offline for years) showing different award levels for one album depending on the filter used for the search. “Britney” or “Oops” searches would show you both times the same Oops album, but one shown as 1xPlatinum and one as 2xPlatinum. Release dates entered in that CAPIF database were also highly erroneous, a real problem considering certification criteria was based on the album release date.

My assumption, given all we know, is that both BOMT and Oops were indeed only Platinum officially, but that entries of those albums with the wrong post-2001 release dates, after which the criteria was lowered from 60,000 to 40,000, resulted in the display of a 2xPlatinum award.

This poor database is responsible for both having too higher estimates, since we can see thanks to data that they sold under 120,000 units a piece. As always, after updating a figure the best thing to do is check if that makes sense. In all American continent countries, Britney sold at least half the sales of Oops, thus the original estimates were indeed looking flawed. So reducing the first two albums figures makes perfect sense.

In the same way Greatest Hits seems too high, given 40,000 units had still yet to be reached by 2006.

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

  • Baby One More Time – 110,000
  • Oops!… I did It Again – 90,000
  • Britney – 50,000
  • In The Zone – 50,000
  • Greatest Hits, My Prerogative – 50,000
  • Blackout – 20,000
  • Circus – 30,000
  • The Singles Collection – 15,000

16 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, 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?

    1. You were wrong. 12 million is from nielsen alone and almost 2 million came from BMG music club. It is widely reported already and it is widely reported that BOMT was certified 14 times by the RIAA

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