CSPC: Pink Floyd Popularity Analysis

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Sales Timeline – Dark Side of the Moon & The Wall

Hitting #1 when first released in 1973, Dark Side of the Moon also spent 27 weeks inside the Top 10 in the US. Until February 1980 it continued to feature within the Top 200 week after week, accumulating incredible sales.

As surprising as it is the album had sold only 6,5 million units in the US by that date, as confirmed at the time by the New York Times. This is barely 30% of its 21,8 million sales to date. In a Worldwide scale, the Guinness Book of Records – which is valid when sales are audited, not when random people enter random claims on their website nowadays – audited its sales in December 1986 at 19,5 million, less than half its sales to date. By the release of The Division Bell in 1994, EMI confirmed global sales of 28 million copies.

Two things must be understood from those figures. As sales from 1994 to date are under control in all relevant markets, and suggest a bit more than 15 million units moved in that time frame, release to date sales of Dark Side of the Moon of over 43 million are exact. The margin of error is under 1 million, a tiny window for such a monster seller. The second highlight concerns the size of the market in distinct eras. Watching an album from 1973 selling 43 million units suggest the market was huge at the time. In reality, it took about 5 years to break the 10 million barrier in spite of monumental charts performances. A sales pattern similar to the one achieved by Ed Sheeran‘s X since its 2013 release.

A blockbuster #1 album in most markets when issued in late 1979, The Wall registered 14 or more weeks at the top in Sweden, the US, France, Norway, Germany, Spain and Austria. The market overall was already much healthier than in 1973, but it wasn’t strong enough even to build 20 or 30 million tallies as fast as during the 90s. By 1981, the album had sold 10,5 million units, a total up to 12,5 million by 1984. The next decade was huge for this album which climbed all the way to 20 million by 1994, some 15 years after its release. Those figures show how unreal sales were of the likes of Saturday Night Fever and Thriller that went past 25 and 30 million units respectively in less than 2 years during the same era.

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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