CSPC: Lorde Popularity Analysis

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Original Album Sales – Comments

2013 Pure Heroine – 3,100,000
2017 Melodrama – 200,000

If you follow charts closely, you will certainly know that Pure Heroine was certified for 2 million sales in the US in December 2014, and shipped 3,4 million copies Worldwide in 2013 plus 2014 as per the IFPI. Both figures would suggest at least 3,6 million sales as of today.

Why am I contradicting both the RIAA and the IFPI, arguably the two most reliable recording industry organizations of the World?

To date, retail sales of Pure Heroine in the US stand at 1,67 million according to Nielsen Soundscan. They were under 1,5 million with very few copies remaining on the shelves at the time. The 2xPlatinum award of the RIAA happened on December 2 2014, exactly the same day Ariana Grande‘s My Everything went Platinum, while that album too was half a million short of the award sales-wise. Both are albums from the label Republic Records.

If this mystery remained alive until today, the explanation is rather simple. At the time, Google was trying to promote its download platform Google Play against giants iTunes and Amazon. To do so, they used various marketing buzz tools, including offering for free one very popular item every week such as the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Those offers included My Everything from September 23 to September 29 and then Pure Heroine four weeks later. Given available information, it appears that roughly 600,000 units were enjoyed by the platform users at the time.

I’m sure you are thinking, how the hell were free copies accounted for by both the RIAA and the IFPI?! Quite simply because from a music industry point of view, they weren’t free. Despite users not having paid one cent for them, Google however did. They bought the copies from Republic Records just like any other copy bought by iTunes, Best Buy or Wallmart, thus the retailer price was valid as per the RIAA policy.

A small clarification, the figure for Melodrama is an estimation of its to date shipment. As it just came out, the gap between sales and shipment is still relevant, but it will be fulfilled in a matter of weeks.

20 thoughts on “CSPC: Lorde Popularity Analysis”

  1. I would like to see this number updated when the “Melodrama” era is over. We don’t know how long it will be, neither if she will score some hits or not. However she doesn’t seem to be the type of artist that rely on commercial success, the album is already critically acclaimed. I think she will be okay even if she doesn’t crossover again.

    1. This is a disrespectful and rude comment towards a young talented act who has just released her second record; and that is the reason why MJD has analysed her discography. It’s also much easier for him to study artists with a short career (it certainty takes a much lower amount of time).

      Google is your friend, by the way. If you don’t know Lorde, which means you probably don’t follow contemporary music scene, you should check her out.

    2. Hi Dan,

      Lorde’s Pure Heroine have been way bigger than Queen, Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack – realistically bigger even than A Night at the Opera in their respective first years. Thus, when you flag her as an unknown one hit wonder, you are being harsh to your own knowledge more than anything.

      All artists with at least 1 big album are needed anyway to build Year/Decade lists and Lorde is definitely one of them. Focusing on the big guns only would also imply 1 or 2 articles only per month.

      Last but not least, there is a lot of fans of Lorde, Ed Sheeran, Miley Cyrus or Ariana Grande out here and they are entitled to get information about their favorite artist as much as you 😉

      1. I think it’s fantastic that you’re working on different kinds of artists every time MJD! From classic rock bands like Pink Floyd to newer acts like Lorde can cater to different people with different tastes! The only types of music artists you haven’t done, or quite as frequent, are older black male artists (eg. Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, James Brown) or older female artists (eg. Barbara, Diana, Tina, Aretha). I hope you’d do one for these kinds of artists soon, though i know it will be hell considering their lengthy discography!

        Regarding Lorde’s success, I agree that 6,5m is a great success for a 2013 debut album! Speaking of debut albums, which debut album do you consider the most successful? I can think of Tracy Chapman, Whitney and Britney’s debut albums being up there!

        Another thing I would like to bring up is how much has the European market outside the 3 main markets (UK, France and Germany) have fallen in terms of album sales? I have noticed with recent successful releases, they are able to pull great numbers in the UK (eg. Taylor with 1989 and Justin with Purpose) and decent numers in both France and Germany (100K-250K) both for the remaining markets, they are dismisal with only 10-20K each! Lorde’s Pure Heroin, for example, has 75% of her European sales coming from the 3 main markets!

        Also, since you’ve mentioned Ariana, I really hope you do an analysis on her soon! I’m lookin forward to how her career has evolved, and whether DW was less successful than ME!

        Thank You!

        1. I’m pretty sure that GNR’s and Boston’s debut albums are far more successful than the ones you’ve mentioned.

          1. Hi Dan,

            Boston’s debut is on par with albums like BOMT or the others named by Raffi. Appetite for Destruction is definitely the #1 there though.

      2. Not sure why you’ve decided to compare it to Queen’s first albums. It was a completely different era, no internet, youtube or facebook. It was also more successful than Rolling Stone’s debut, as well as The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

        1. Hi again Dan,

          The era doesn’t matter. Fact is Lorde’s debut has been way more successful than debut albums of legendary acts – even with 40 or 50 years of catalog sales – so the least we can do is being respectful for that. Her new album is also the 2nd best rated of the year so far at Metacritic, only topped by Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN, so don’t expect her to disappear anytime soon.

  2. Hi MJD, do you have any information about “The Love Club EP” by lorde? I thint that has sold something around 800k

    1. Hi Lucas,

      It is already accounted for in the 8th page. It sold way less than that though as its Australian sales were in reality downloads of Royals.

      1. So, i founded this numbers at charts in france. they are counting royals downloads?
        Australia >> Vendu à 490 000 exemplaires. Certifié 7x Disque de Platine
        Canada >> Vendu à 18.263 exemplaires
        Nova Zelandia >> Vendu à 15 000 exemplaires. Certifié Disque de Platine
        USA: >> Vendu à 177.000 exemplaires.

        This is wrong? The chart-run of this album is longer. this has passed more than 20 weeks on top10 New zeland álbum chart, and more than 10 in australia top10

        1. Hi Lucas!

          In Australia yes the run / certification was indeed related to Royals rather than the EP. That’s why it was counted inside the Singles Chart, why it was certified and charted under the name “The Love Club EP Feat. Royals” and why Royals itself never appeared inside the chart.

          This being said, as the EP had two versions in the US (the second removing Royals), my Soundscan figure for it was incomplete, in fact it was on 193k by January 2004. I’ll adjust that!

  3. Thanks ! I really like Lorde and I’m sure she will keep slaying charts in the future.

    Anyway, who’s next on your list? You could tease us a bit or it’s such a top secret ?? ;p

    1. Hi Dabbyy!

      As you can see, the next on the list was Nickelback! The following act to be studied is releasing a new album at the moment too…

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