CSPC: Pink Floyd Popularity Analysis

Pushkar Pink Floyd Hotel

Controversies – Part 1 – Dark Side of the Moon – UK

As per the official music industry organization of the UK, the BPI, Dark Side of the Moon sold over 4,2 million copies there as of February 2016.

Sadly, official doesn’t always mean accurate. The BPI bases their figures on scanned copies since 1994 to date. Everything prior to that date was achieved by requesting awards on the back of an audit. From 2013 though, the BPI started to automatically certify albums on their scanned units. Since that data was incomplete for various all-time top sellers which came out before 1994, the organization decided to certify those biggest albums on sales estimated by Alan Jones in February 2016.

The estimate of Dark Side of the Moon is clearly incorrect though. The set was audited and certified as 9xPlatinum in 2005, representing shipments between 2,7 million and 3 million. Since that date, the album sold close to 750,000 units which sets a roof of possible sales on 3,75 million – nowhere near the 4,2 million plus assumption.

Various chart experts contested that 9xPlatinum award too though, myself included. In fact, the album was 7xPlatinum back in 1993 while there is documented sales of more than 900,000 units between those two awards and more than 1,2 million shipments. How wasn’t it certified at least 10xPlatinum in 2005 then? Let’s check its yearly sales and shipments for the relevant period. All figures in thousands.

As you can see, adding the 2,1 million units certified in early 1993 to further copies shipped / sold by 2005 brings the total to 3,3 / 3,1 million respectively. These figures are tricky though. Based on royalties, net shipments weren’t always factored into the year of sales, often copies shipped were paid to the artist months or even years later! It is very visible in 2004 when it net shipped 180,000 units while most of them were indeed shipped (and sold) in 2003 with the 30th anniversary edition. In the other side, units barely ordered by retailers already have their bills, meaning they can be included into certifications.

The fact that net shipments run well ahead of sales for many years imply that a good portion of copies shipped from 1993 to 1995 most likely happened in reality between the early 90s to March 1993. This was when the 20th anniversary edition came out shooting to #4 in the weekly chart. Assuming a realistic 300,000 units shipped for this reissue, pushing the total to 2,1 million, there is still 865,000 new copies that got shipped up to the end of 2004. Among copies shipped in 2005, most of them occurred in the last part of the year when it reached the Top 50. While the 9xPlatinum award was received in May. Doing the math, the album had shipped 2,1 million + 865,000 + a few early 2005 copies by May 2005, explaining why it fell short of the 3 million copies needed to be 10xPlatinum.

Those 2,975,000 units moved by May 2005 added to the 750,000 units shifted since that date justifies the 3,725,000 estimate to date.

8 thoughts on “CSPC: Pink Floyd Popularity Analysis”

  1. Hi MJD!

    Glad you’re back! It’s been a long wait and it was quite worth it!

    Regarding Pink Floyd’s sales, I have to say their album sales are excellent! 80m+ in both the US and Europe is mind-blowing! They also managed huge sales in almost everywhere except Asia, but that can be explained by the weak market during their peak.

    Still, I was rather disappointed with their performance on other formats. 8,8m physical singles is very low compared to acts of the same time frame, especially since the singles market was huge at the time. I guess not releasing so many singles led to their extraordinary album sales, but The Wall is a perfect example of both huge album sales and singles sales. If they had relased more singles, they probably would end up having slightly less album sales, but much higher album sales equivalents from singles sales.

    I’m not sure how to judge their digital results though. While 23m downloads is quite good considering that the band is already quite old, it pales a lot compared to their album sales. I even find their streaming results more impressive than their download results.

    Lastly, with nearly 170m coming from studio album sales, this format takes up 75% of their total results. What other artists have such a huge proportion of their total results belonging to this format?

    The only acts i can think of right now that would be above Pink Floyd’s are Elvis, Michael Jackson and Queen. Not sure about Sir Elton John though. That means Pink Floyd is most likely in the Top 10.

    What other analysis/updates/projects are you planning to do next?

  2. Great article! I have a question, is it the THE WALL and Moon era the biggest era of all time ? Or Michael’s Thillir era 1983-1985 or Beatles’ 1965-1969 or Celine’s 1996- 1999?

    1. Hi Skkywill!

      I’m not sure to fully understand your question, how do you define ‘era’? Are you referring to a period time-frame or a set of consecutive albums?

      1. time-frame, biggest CSPC sales during their peak time, of course, considered market size and number of album and sales., It’s hard to credit Swift’s era., but adele’s era is 2011-2012, Bad is no doubt an incredible era, but despite of how biggest Thillir is, its, era didnt last 1982—1988, but two era, Whitney as well. era credited for consecutive Year end chart run of artist’s record

  3. outstanding numbers! it is worth mentioning that they are the second artist on your list to have two 40+ million CSPC albums after Celine. Of course in their case, they almost have both their albums over 50 million which is a ridiculous result. Do you reckon any other artist of those left apart from Michael Jackson to have 2 albums generate over 40 million CSPC units (let alone 50 million!!)?

  4. time-frame, biggest CSPC sales during their peak time, of course, considered market size and number of album and sales., It’s hard to credit Swift’s era., but adele’s era is 2011-2012, Bad is no doubt an incredible era, but despite of how biggest Thillir is, its, era didnt last 1982—1988, but two era, Whitney as well. era credited for consecutive Year end chart run of artist’s records

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