CSPC: Pink Floyd Popularity Analysis



So, after checking all the figures how many overall equivalent album sales has each Pink Floyd album achieved? Well, at this point we hardly need to add up all of the figures defined in this article!

In the following table, all categories display figures that way, e.g. in equivalent album sales. For example, singles from The Wall released in digital format sold the equivalent of 1,200,000 albums – 8,000,000 downloads with a 10 to 1,5 weighting.

    • As a reminder:

  • Studio Album: sales of the original album
  • Other Releases: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album
  • Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (ratio 3/10)
  • Download Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10)
  • Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500 for Audio stream and 1/11750 for Video stream)

Albums from the late 60s selling 5 million units are huge albums. This is true if we look only at the pure album format. Now that we mentioned it, we need to check carefully additional information. Albums like Atom Heart Mother or Ummagumma built solid sales over the years, but outside the main format they created close to no value to the band’s catalog. Thus, the total CSPC isn’t much higher at also around 5 million equivalent album sales. If we look at the Rolling Stones for example, Aftermath and Beggars Banquet sold 4 million units each in pure album sales, but their overall totals combine for a massive 35 million. In concrete words, even if sales of Pink Floyd‘s albums pre-1973 are solid, they aren’t as big as they seem with decent catalog sales being the result of the absence of cannibalization from compilations.

Nothing can be said against the big 3 though. It is already an absolutely unbelievable feat to reach 50 million with one album, let alone doing it with two. Although The Wall doesn’t quite catch Dark Side of the Moon (55,8 million), it is an unstoppable machine itself at 50,3 million. Whilst Dark Side Of The Moon sold 8,5 million more physical copies of the original album than Saturday Night Fever, it falls 10,9 million short in terms of overall performance. Still, 55,8 million puts it in a very restricted league. Below is the Top 5 albums out of all the previously posted articles:

1 1977 Soundtrack / Bee Gees – Saturday Night Fever – 66,705,000
2 1977 Fleetwood MacRumours – 60,508,000
3 1971 Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin IV – 56,573,000
4 1973 Pink FloydDark Side of the Moon – 55,796,000
5 1992 Whitney HoustonThe Bodyguard – 53,231,000

Overall, Pink Floyd sold 229,4 million equivalent album sales, a figure out of reach for all but a handful of artists.

The following pages list their most successful songs. Do not forget to check our amazing cross-artists lists posted inside the CSPC: Data Collector which includes the full listing of all CSPC results compiled so far to better gauge their position in the history of the music industry.

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

Sources: IFPI, Spotify, YouTube, Billboard, Musica e Dischi, Guinness Book of Records, New York Times, JimmyPages59, Chartmasters.org.

40 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

        1. Hi Skkywill!

          To be honest I fail to see the logic there, you need to set more consistent and clear rules to define a list. For example, Bad was roughly half as big as Thriller, if you can’t consider an era 1982-1987 for Michael Jackson because it was too much of a dip in sales, then there is no way you can consider 1973-1979 as one single era for Pink Floyd with Animals doing 4.5 times less than Dark Side of the Moon.

          If you use a 4-albums window, then Pink Floyd end up under MJ. With a 6 years period, they are topped by the Beatles.

          The market size is clearly a misconception. Pink Floyd’s albums sold that well thanks to catalog sales, which happened when the market was big. Their 1973-1979 albums CSPC totals also include tons of sales from live and compilations issued with a great market environment.

          If you stick to initial sales from 1973 to 1980, then this is clearly not the biggest era ever as they weren’t even the top selling act of that period – the Bee Gees and ABBA sold more than them during those years.

  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!!)?

    1. Hi Pat200!

      I could be wrong but I can’t think of anyone else apart Michael Jackson achieving this feat! This later has more likely not 2 but 3 albums there!

  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

  5. It’s incredible to see albums like The Dark Side of the Moon sold less than half of its 43 million in the first year of publication (1973) and then over time it sold so much, a more unique and rare case, then we must also say that it still continues to be sell as evidenced by its sales in the US that the RIA declares it sold 15 million until 1995, but many sources including you MJD know with certainty that The Dark Side of the Moon has sold 21,800,000 copies sold only in US.

    1. Hi Pelvis!

      Actually, it sold way, way less than half its 43 million copies during its first year of publication – more likely 3 million only. It sold 12 million copies during the entire 70s. This is precisely why I mentioned how much we should be careful when assuming the market was good at the time because one album sold well as sales have been spread over more than 40 years!

      EMI hasn’t been updating their certifications, the RIAA can’t update them without the label asking for the award and providing them the figures. Hopefully a major audit of their catalog will happen soon!

      1. Thank god t hat there are people like you MJD who update these albums such as The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd) and The Joshua Tree (U2); If we only evaluate the RIAA certifications we will always say that The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd) and The Joshua Tree (U2) have sold 15 million and 10 million respectively in the US.
        Instead, thanks to experienced people like you, we know that The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd) sold 21,800,000 copies sold in US and The Joshua Tree (U2) sold 12,400,000 copies sold in US.
        In fact I’m curious to see U2 update !

        1. Sorry again MJD, I know that Shine On (box set) does not include The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, but here you include it.
          Then always inheriting this box, I would like to know how its sales are not counted individually
          like the box set (Led Zeppelin).

          1. Hi Pelvis!

            You spotted an error – the track list used for Shine On is fine, it relates to the CD 9, the one of early singles, including one from Piper which is why the album gets a few sales. The remaining studio albums that were going to be added into the “Box” category were forgotten ultimately, I’ll fix that!

  6. Very well, if my calculations are correct CSPC PInk Floyd is 228,257,000 equivalent album sales considering that you must add 400,000 copies for each album of the box set (Shine On)

  7. Well, I see that you updated CSPC Pink Floyd with 400,000 copies of the box set (Shine On) for each album. Only I wanted to know why some albums like Meddle and The Dark Side of the Moon sold 575,000 copies instead The Wall, Animals and Wish You Were Here they sold 600,000 copies

    1. Hi Pelvis!

      Yes, I was just going to post that I updated those numbers. The higher figure of post-WYWH albums is due to the package The Box (1975-1988) released mostly in Australia, estimated at 25,000 units Worldwide. As you can understand by its name, that box included Animals, The Wall etc, but not Meddle or Dark Side!

    1. Hi Trond!

      Sales of Robert Plant, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney or John Lennon were also not accounted for into their respective bands articles. They are truly solo projects, while interesting it doesn’t seem to belong to the main groups sales. The only exception I did so far is Bon Jovi because that’s a very specific case were the singer is fully amalgamated to the band, just like Sade.

  8. Hi! Great work.

    I have a question: Does The Wall (and Ummagumma) as double albums have the certifications for the number of album copies or number of discs(2x) ?

    1. With regards to their inclusion in this analysis and in particular, the “Original Album Sales” section, they are counted as one album.

    1. The Grease Soundtrack has shipped more copies than The Wall but I’m not sure how you would class TGS. It started life as a double LP and single cassette release but has since been issued as a 1 CD release and then a 2 CD. Incidentally, I have The Wall and it’s a single cassette release.

    1. Hi Joe!

      From a personal perspective, I would love to work on CCR, but I must admit I may miss time in the near future as the pipe is full of several more artists! Thanks for the very nice words 🙂

  9. This is one of the greatest websites on album sales I’ve ever found. Your research is impeccable, and very easy to follow. Your analysis is very believable. This is a wonderful way to compare all these different artists. I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan and I’ve been looking for years to try to find some accurate data on Pink Floyd’s world wide album sales, and with the exception of Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, there is very little good information out there. And seeing claims that bands like Queen and ABBA sold 350 million albums each just never made sense to me, based on what charts I have found for them. I even like a lot of the music from these two groups but when you can’t substantiate over 50 percent of your claimed sales, it’s a bit hard to believe anything.

    You should really update the Wikipedia for biggest selling artists and best selling albums, though I don’t know how that works. The numbers that are on those pages are complete fabrications and broad estimates. Anyway, thanks for your wonderful research and insight into this industry. It’s about time someone takes on this subject, which until you came along, had no basis in reality.

  10. Also, if you look at your US totals, double count Ummagumma, The Wall, the three live albums and the Echos, best of Album, like RIAA does, that puts Pink Floyd well over a 100 million US sales. I think RIAA has certified only around 70 million. Is EMI this far behind on certification? I’ve known for some time Dark Side of the moon at 15 million was way off. Didn’t know it was this way off. Are there any other bands that are this far off from their RIAA Certs? Seems Pink Floyd might be the most off.

    Thanks again.

    1. Hi Lance!

      Yes, Pink Floyd’s albums sales are largely deflated by their RIAA certifications. Their label hasn’t been caring about certifications for 20 years, just like for the Beatles. At least the latter band sold well with new releases in the meantime like One or Love, so a good chunk of their sales since 20 years are awarded. For that reason Floyd are indeed likely the group with the RIAA total the most outdated of all.

  11. Hi dear MJD!

    Could you pleasee post the album sales per country for Pink Floyd and The Beatles( wich i already asked you for)

    Thanks in advance!

  12. Hi MJD

    Your article about Pink Floyd is so majestic, wonderful, pyrotechnic like their albums and rheir discography as Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall.
    I noticed from yesterday that the image or cover of the album Meddle is not visible, it is written “afficher l’image d’origine”.
    Can you solve it please ?

  13. Hi MJD !!!

    I do not see the image or cover of the album Ummagumma is not visible, it is written “afficher l’image d’origine”.

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