CSPC: Cher Popularity Analysis

Full Length related record Sales

It sounds fairly logical to add together weighted sales of one era – studio album, physical singles, downloads, streams – to get the full picture of an album’s popularity. For older releases though, they also generate sales of various live, music videos and compilation albums.

All those packaging-only records do not create value, they exploit the value originating from the parent studio album of each of its tracks instead. Inevitably, when such compilations are issued, this downgrades catalog sales of the original LP. Thus, to perfectly gauge the worth of these releases, we need to re-assign sales proportionally to its contribution of all the compilations which feature its songs. The following table explains this method.

Remaining Long Format – Part 1 – Compilations

How to understand this table? If you check for example the Greatest Hits of Cher compilation line (the last one) those figures mean it sold 700,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 14,000 equivalent album sales from streams of all types.

The second part on the right of the table shows how many equivalent streams are coming from each original album, plus the share it represents on the overall package. Thus, streaming figures tell us songs from Dark Lady are responsible for 26% of the Greatest Hits track list attractiveness. This means it generated 182,000 of its 700,000 album sales and so forth for the other records.

Released at random moments and quickly replaced, those compilations haven’t amassed many sales individually. Their overall total is decent though. The main provider of sales of Sonny & Cher compilations is clearly Look At Us, which is logical since its I Got You Babe is the only song remembered by the duet.

Early compilations of Cher have their sales spread more equally among her 1965-1974 studio albums.

66 thoughts on “CSPC: Cher Popularity Analysis”

1. Mat says:

Great work!

How flops she have! Really she had good combacks? I don’t think so!

She thinks she have a great legacy…

1. Stephen says:

Keep it cute Mat

1. Mat says:

She haves more flops than HITS… sorry…

1. RyanS says:

She also has an Academy Award for Best Actress, something divas far ahead of her in record sales could only dream of. Cher remains a living legend.

1. Mat says:

Yeah but her music carrer is a flop 🙁

2. koerenas_albelia says:

do you jnow Barbra?

3. babyshower says:

what does her academy award have to do with her MUSIC career and with the fact that 96% of her albums were huge flops?

2. Rio says:

You’re very uneducated. This album did well in Europe, she’s never sold as high as Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga or Madonna anyway. But this isn’t bad. You’re more dyslexic than Cher, go home!

2. Bobby Radmore says:

CHER IS THE GREATEST FEMALE SINGER IN HISTORY!

3. Marcus André says:

Wow! 80 pages of great work! Thank you guys! Some fans had said that her album Cher, was missing a cert by RIAA, but it’s not near that… I’m surprised that Believe almost reach a platinum cert here in Brasil, só happy to read that! Thank you!

4. RLAAMJR says:

Cher only became relevant because of “Believe”

1. marcus andre says:

I don’t think so. Her album Heart of Stone sold 6 million copies worldwide, that’s a great number, don’t you think?! And she had 4 Gold singles (1 million copies each) in the 70s too.

1. RLAAMJR says:

Honestly speaking, no. So many music artists have sold more than 10 million copies for one album. Selling more than 6 million is good unless it was released today.

Only Believe made her relevant to music.

2. Mat says:

True… but she’s a good artist.

3. Rio says:

She was a national treasure on American TV, she had her own show. She sold well enough, everyone knew who she was before Believe.
Believe just came at the right time and became her biggest hit. Keep telling yourself that but you’re obviously wrong. 😂 do you not remember ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’?

5. Chrysalynne Lingling says:

Thanks for your hard work MJD! Amazing article, probably the first/only credible and detailed Cher-related sales compilation out there.

Two questions though:

1) Take Me Home has a gold certification in the US for 1 million copies but it’s only listed as selling 810,000 copies here. How many of that came from the US and why did it fall so short of its certification?

2) You listed 2 Christina songs under the Burlesque digital sales bracket, could you tell us how many copies the 2 Cher songs (Welcome to Burlesque and You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me) have sold?

1. Hi Chrysalynne!

Thanks for the nice words 🙂 As for your two questions, here we go:

1) Although certified for 1 million units shipped, Take Me Home sold 700,000 units in the US. It was due to the RIAA methodology of double counting 12″ singles which were strongly popular during the disco era.

2) I listed the top 2 sellers, both indeed from Christina. The two songs of Cher are estimated on 150,000 units sold each, 300,000 total, which is why her “personal” line of Burlesque among totals has the equivalent album sales from downloads on 45,000 units!

1. babyshower says:

I don’t see why “Burlesque” should be considered a Cher album when she only has 1 and a half song on it, it’s obviously a Christina record. Actually that was the reason the Grammy didn’t consider Cher when the Burlesque soundtrack was nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack. It’s all about Christina. If you don’t agree, you can check the streaming. Christina’s songs are much bigger than Cher’s.

6. Archi says:

Great work folks! Keep going…

7. Richard says:

Interesting work. You have Take me Home listed as selling 450K in US. Is that right?

1. Hi Richard!

Indeed, Take Me Home (album) is listed with 450,000 US sales although it was certified Gold way back in May 17, 1979. It’s fairly standard, when the hype grows around a record, retailers quickly order it. The gross shipment increases fast, sales to consumers follow lagging some weeks / months behind. Most of the time, even when an album slows down popularity-wise, units shipped are sold through the next few months / years.

When the hype grows fast and disappears as fast though, various copies shipped need to be returned. Take Me Home went Gold when the album was peaking at #25, a mere 3 weeks later it was dropping out of the Top 100, it left the Top 200 altogether 5 more weeks later. The drop was too fast to enable retailers to sell ordered copies. The album had virtualy no mid-long run as in mid-1979 majors pushed hard to stop selling disco records when they noticed the airplay to sales ratio was chaotic for this genre of music. This is why big acts of 1979, including the Bee Gees, bombed insanely hard with their next albums. Then, Take Me Home was deleted – it hasn’t been in CD until a limited budget issue from 1999, preventing sales to consumers to ever break the half a million units certified back in 1979.

Albums like All I Ever Need Is You, Live and Half-Breed went Gold with less sales too but for a very different reason. Until 1975, rather than 500,000 units, it was needed to gross \$1 million in sales to be Gold. The price which matters in that case was the dealer price. During the 60s, LPs were sold from labels to retailers around \$2 or even less, so albums were shipped at 500,000 units or more when certified. The inflation increased the dealer price to more than \$3 by 1972, which means about 300,000 units were enough to hit Gold. This is how Half-Breed went Gold in spite of a very modest chart run. Due to that consistent price inflation that was deflating the merits of the Gold award, in 1975 the RIAA introduced a double criteria – \$1 million grossed AND 500,000 units shipped. Obviously, there was still various cases of over-shipment happening, even more by the end of the 70s when labels had in charge the entire losses in case of unsold copies, thus creating a wide open way for retailers to orders a lot of copies. It changed in early 80s after the disaster of Sgt Pepper’s soundtrack that sent RSO label to bankrupcy due to its 2 million copies returned.

8. Raffi says:

Nice work guys!

-It’s quite interesting to see that Cher had her first “huge” album in 1989 with Heart and Stone, so deep into her career and in her 40’s, as well as experiencing her peak at the age of 52!
-Believe (song) sold much more than I imagined! It’s impressive that the song sold 7m copies, being the first song studied from a studio album! Can you tell me how much of that 7m came from Europe, considering that it smashed so hard there.
-Believe (album) is also a big seller too, only failing to generate big sales in Asia! Also, the overall total of 19m+ is big too! It’s a shame she didn’t release more compilations after it’s release to generate more sales for it, especially considering Believe will be the main provider for those sales
-Her first album with her husband was rather a big album with 7m units sold. Would it be much bigger had it not been deleted? I assume it would have generated decent catalog sales during her 1989/1998 years.

Some criticisms:
-Not trying to discredit Cher’s success, but for someone of her status, I would have expected a much higher total. She eventually ended lower than Janet, despite being in the industry for many more years and releasing many more albums.
-There is no doubt that she has had more flops than successes throughout her career. She’s only had 2/3 “big albums”, a few decent ones, while the majority are complete bombs!
-It also seems that Cher is completely non-existent in the digital age as well! Her streaming results are truly atrocious, while her downloads results is even worse. She probably has the worst performance in digital formats than any other artists studied so far.
-As for her sales in phyiscal singles, she definitely has some good showings. The overall total of 45m, while huge, still falls below other divas like Whitney, and Cher’s solo material ends up selling less physical singles than Janet and Mariah, despite releasing singles at a much more healthy music market for that format and with twice the amount of songs released!

All in all, very insightful work! I am truly anticipated for Usher’s analysis to come out! He’s a very interesting case to study as he preformed well in all main formats. Hope you work on him soon! Also, are you going to do an update article on the acts you’ve studied so far?

1. Hi Raffi!

Starting with Look At Us question, I think 7 million is really the max it could have achieved. That’s an awful lot for an album out of which the only hit has “only” 20 million streams. Although it was quickly deleted on its original form, it continued selling all along the way thanks to various hits package. This is one of the reasons why the Sonny & Cher discography is completely erased these days (none of their albums charted in the UK since 1994 charts, not even inside the budget chart), because ‘I Got You Babe’ is included in all best of albums by Cher.

Greatest Hits: 1965-1992, If I Could Turn Back Time: Cher’s Greatest Hits, The Greatest Hits, The Very Best Of etc… they all include the Sonny & Cher hit, even if they are credited to Cher only.

Album sales of Usher are already completed, his article is advancing nicely 😉

9. Raffi says:

Also, MJD, when you estimate album sales for artists, which ones do you find the most difficult to estimate: successful albums that sold well in numerous places, or flops with near to 0 information found? I assume the former is challenging due to having to estimate more sales in more countries, but the latter is also quite difficult as you can’t make up a random number for it, even when it flopped so much that no information can be found for its sales.

1. Well, it depends on how you define difficult!

In terms of relative accuracy, big sellers are easier. There is so many sales confirmed from big countries that the possible window of error in terms of percentage is low. In absolute terms, working on complete bombs is easier. It doesn’t matter if an uncharted album sold 20k, 50k or 80k, even if that’s a 100-300% error, it represents nothing among the overall total, so it’s fine.

In most, now thanks to streams / discogs, it is possible to gauge the difference of sales even between two albums that never charted now. As you no doubt understood, each attractiveness of a song stick over years. The biggest was a song for an artist in first place, the biggest it may remain in the long run. From one artist to another this isn’t true, but inside the discography of an artist this is valid. We don’t see flop singles become the biggest streamers of an artist with no reason. So, even if numbers of Spotify are atrocious, seeing an album at 3,000 equivalent album sales from streams and an other at 500 units, we can safely assume the first one was the biggest seller in first place. The number of editions / countries were it was released according to discogs also helps.

From a personal point of view, I always prefer working on big selling acts. The ratio work required / sales achieved is much higher which increases the motivation of compiling everything 😉

10. Mat says:

Now im now th reason why Cher HATES Madonna…

1. babyshower says:

Even a “flop” era like Erotica or American Life managed to outsell Cher’s so called “successful” albums in regular form (Erotica sold almost 7 million vs Heart of Stone only selling 6 million). Heck, even Rebel Heart and MDNA have outsold all of her records sans Believe, Look at us, Heart of Stone, Love Hurts and the 1987 self titled release.

11. babyshower says:

These are abismal numbers for somebody who gets called “the goddess of pop” by her delusional fans. Don’t even mention the Academy Award, since that has nothing to do with music. It’s very clear that, with a few exceptions (Heart of Stone and Believe and a few hits here and there) Cher’s discography is non eventful to say the least

1. Mat says:

Who calls her “Goddes of Pop” are they the ugliest LITTLE MONSTERS.

12. Rell says:

Thank you very much, MJD.
Cher’s status in american pop culture doesn’t have to be discussed in spite of her rather low total sales. One should not forget she ran highly-rated TV shows in the late 60’s to mid-70’s (The Sonny & Cher show, The Cher show). She played in popular movies in the 80’s and 90’s, won an Academy Award for best actress and in 2013 reached the top of the Dance/Club chart at 67 years old !
MJD mentioned her success on the video format. That’s no surprise. Her tours are always among the highest-grossing of the year (especially the Farewell Tour).

13. Djosci Coelho says:

WOW! Marvelous work. I’m impressed.
Cher has never been a big contender in the pop music market. Her star appeal has always lied on her personality rather than her artistry. That explains why she has always been requested by big record labels (Warner, Geffen, Casablanca), even with a incredibly huge string of flops beside her name. They knew she could make it big with the right material directed by the right producer.
The power and strength of Cher’s legacy can not be estimated based on a single area of her career. Everytime her album sales would slow down or the hits would stop coming, she would enjoy big success in another area of entertainment. And that’s how she managed to keep herself in the public eye for 5 decades.
She’s had two hugely successful TV shows during the 1970s. Her 1981 Las Vegas residency show, for which she was paid \$300,000 a week, topped Frank Sinatra’s revenue during a time when her album sales where laughable. She managed to accomplish the most memorable singer-to-actor crossover of all time, winning an Oscar just 5 years after her screen debut as a dramatic actress. Her TV specials never fail to broadcast impressive numbers: her 2003 live concert film ‘The Farewell Tour’, aired on NBC, attracted 17 million viewers – to put it in perspective, Madonna’s ‘Confessions Tour’ special, also aired on NBC three years later, attracted 4,1 million viewers. It goes without saying that Cher is a huge video album seller, which again proves her status as an image-driven popstar.
Cher was the prototype of today’s female pop star (made-for-radio uptempo songs, big concerts, outrageous music videos, constant reinvention of music and image) during a time dominated by Barbras and Dianas, and she never managed to enjoy the benefit of MTV exposure that would rocket 1980s and 1990s image-driven popstars such as Madonna and Britney Spears. Her image appeal was confined to her 1970s shows, which were huge but local successes. When Cher came back in the late 1980s with a then MTV-friendly AOR sound, she was already in her 40s and “too old” for their teenage public.
Cher’s discography is kinda messy, as the majority of her studio albums consist of one or two singles and an awful lot of fillers. In fact, she did not have any control over her own recordings until her 1987 self-titled album. The producers would choose the tracks, Cher would learn and record them, and that was that. She even stated that she could record an entire album in 3 days during the 1970s.
Cher is an almost omnipotent personality who can play the role of a singer very well, but in no way can she be defined by such term. There are many, MANY singers whose music legacies are bigger than Cher’s, but Cher’s overall legacy is just one of a kind.
That being said, Cher’s catalog on streaming services such as YouTube and Spotify is a big fat MESS. Her YouTube videos are mostly uploaded by fans in 240p, pitch altered versions to avoid deletion (which eventually always happen). Some of her most popular singles and music videos are unavailable in the U.S. and many other countries and/or can not be viewed in mobile devices. Warner’s artist management is a joke.
Again, GREAT work! 🙂

1. “Cher is an almost omnipotent personality who can play the role of a singer very well, but in no way can she be defined by such term. There are many, MANY singers whose music legacies are bigger than Cher’s, but Cher’s overall legacy is just one of a kind.” quote
Well said.

14. Pelvis says:

Hello MJD, congratulations on the great work and for the amazing and meticulous article about Cher.
You and your staff are great,each article is superb, detailed, is the site that I visit more frequently.
From recent messages I understand that Usher’s article is in the advanced stage, then I think that after that will be the High School Musical soundtrack.
After these programmed articles do you already have in mind which singer or group to analyze ?

15. pat200 says:

fantastic work. i did expect a low number for her – i mean low for someone of her stature. i can only imagine what aretha franklin’s numbers would be, or diana ross (without the supremes). same for dolly parton and other 50s-60s-70s big named divas who were promoted as having sold 100 million albums…of all the females the one i am most interested in is streisand as she is the only one of the females who could be quite close to whitney in her total.

16. RLAAMJR says:

MJD, i hope that when you redo the Celine Dion chart analysis, you give a page per album including the ones released that you have called early material albums

17. Great, and this was probably difficult to launch into this.
This shows that selling records wasn’t necessary to be a “Superstar” as we called them in the seventies. Even during the early eighties, when she didn’t have a record deal, she was one. She even managed to make those downturn and erratic sales a part of her persona.
During the whole seventies, Cher was unseen in Europe or Asia, since she was locked in California for her tv series. When I first heard of her was in the early 80’s and her Lps were all “Imports”. Movies made her visible again and around me, Baby Boomers didn’t realize she was Cher from “Sonny And Cher”.
Even if it’s probable that her past LPs weren’t blockbusters and barely Gold for the most prominent, it’s touchy to deflate all of them in a radical way.
Some uncharted, or poorly charted LP managed to went Gold or Platinum years after their released. I have a “Back To Basic” ONJ cd in mind.

18. slobro says:

Her sales are not impressive at all. Her studio albums alltogether sold like 35 million which is as much as Rihanna did. One released tons of albums during the peak of album sales, the other one debuted in the digital era. I am sure that Kylie Minogue sold less than Rihanna as well (and her fans call Janet Jackson local lol).
You should do Avril Lavigne next, she is an easy case to study. I wanna see if she moved more albums than Xtina (not equivalent units, but pure sales).

1. Djosci Coelho says:

Until the late 1980s, Cher was almost never entirely focused on her music career as Rihanna does now. She starred in three hugely successful TV shows during the 1970s. Her star appeal back then lied in her TV persona; in fact, she was seen more as a TV star who also did recordings than a music artist. She spent most of the next decade developing her film career, and it wasn’t until 1987 with her self-titled comeback album that she came to have control over her own recordings. That explains why most of her sales come from her last 7 studio albums (that’s the number of albums she has released since 1987) and the fact that almost all of her pre-1987 studio albums are completely non-existent commercialy these days.

Also considering the fact that she was locked in California for her TV series during the entire 1970s and was unseen in Europe or Asia, as Grandizer have pointed out AND that she only became able to fully develop her music career when she was already in her 40s, her sale results are pretty strong. From all of her 1960s female contemporaries, I think only Barbra Streissand surpass her total sales. 🙂

1. pat200 says:

Diana Ross (if you include her supremes work) should have a higher total than her i think.

2. Stephen says:

Laughing @ the ignorance. Cher debuted in 1965 when album sales were EXTREMELY low and barely starting. Do you even know how the market worked back then? Also, Rihanna debuted in 2005, a year in which 2.3 billion albums sold were sold worldwide (more than in 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988). The album market was far better during 2005-2013 than during 1965-1985. Rihanna had the advantage of her record sales being inflated by 2005-2015 digital sales like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, etc did. But I don’t see anyone complaining about that.

Global album sales peaked between 1994-2004. Cher only released three studio albums during that period and she was already more than 30-40 years into her career by that point. You should at least do some re-search before attempting to be shady.

1. slobro says:

Lol at these excuses. More albums were sold in 2005 than during those years because of CATALOG SALES. The highest selling album of that year (Coldplay – X&Y) did ~12 million while the top selling albums from the of 80s were doing 20 million easily (Madonna, Michael, Whitney and many others did). Just accept the fact that Cher was never a good album seller and that 95% of her albums are flops. Look at Barbra, she released as many albums as her but still sold over 100 million. And as I said, Rihanna selling ~35 million albums in the digital era (when people can stream music for free/download from Zippyshare/Youtube converters etc.) is more impressive than Cher selling 35 million of her studio albums with 30+ albums when there was no piracy.
Physical singles actually have bigger advantage in SPS foruma than digital singles, so you shouldn’t be complaining about that. And as far as I know, Cher’s music is available for purchase on Itunes/Amazon as well, but no one seems to care enough to buy it. Don’t blame it on Rihanna/Gaga/Bruno/Katy.
Follow your own advice and educate yourself before attacking someone else!

1. Stephen says:

Again, you’re forgetting that Cher debuted in 1965. Why do you keep bringing up the 1980s? Cher only released 3 albums during the entire 1980s decade, and it wasn’t until the end of the decade that she had control over her recordings. Similar to how Janet Jackson’s first two albums bombed and her stans like to pretend they never happened.

The album market was bloody AWFUL during the 1960s and 1970s, and most of Cher’s albums were released during that period (16). Anyone who actually knows about charts will tell you this. The album market was definitely a lot healthier during the 2000s, especially internationally (most music markets were single-driven in the 1970s, thus limiting her international success even further).

Cher was never a huge seller, I’ll give you that, but she’s had a legendary career and the fact you’re trying to discredit her success and comparing her to Rihanna is just hilarious. You know nothing about her career or the music industry before 2009. Stick to your digital era fads.

Btw, since you’re bringing up one of Cher’s peers (Barbra) to try and dismiss her sales, I can do the same with Janet too. How much did Janet sell in comparison to her peers? Janet Jackson (59 million albums) vs Madonna (200 million), Michael Jackson (250 million), Whitney Houston (130 million), Celine Dion (170 million), Mariah Carey (140 million), Prince (100 million). Hell, even Shania Twain and Britney Spears outsold Janet with ease. Eminem and Adele have outsold her too. Beyonce with Destiny’s Child too. Taylor Swift, Rihanna and P!nk are not too far off either. Does this make Janet’s sales any less impressive? 😉

1. babyshowers says:

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Barbra Streisand were selling millions in the 60s; Diana Ross, The Bee Gees, The Jackson 5 and Donna Summer were doing great in the 70s; Olivia Newton John, Whitney Houston, Madonna and MJ were dominating the 80s; Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Celine Dion and even Madonna with “low sales” were selling multiple 10 million records ww….

What is Cher’s excuse? Just accept the fact that she is a very poor album selling, except a couple of exceptions (Believe seems to be the exception to every rule). Even in the 90s where everybody was selling good because of CD format increase, Love Hurts did bad outside of the UK and It’s a man’s world flopped world wide. Cher only has two solo successful releases, Heart of Stone and Believe.

2. Hi Babyshowers!

Just like Slobro, you are over-estimating sales in the old days due to catalog sales. Most Stones albums from the 60s sold under 1 million during the decade in spite of their immense popularity. Same for the Bee Gees, Barbra Streisand or the J5, they weren’t selling multi-millions of units of their albums until mid-70s.

Even the ultra-massive Beatles sold much lower numbers than most assume during the 60s. By the end of 1969, Sgt Pepper’s had sold 5,3 million units, Abbey Road less than 6 million. They were still their top 2 sellers. The likes Revolver or Rubber Soul sold 2/3 million ‘only’. This shows that selling 500k/1m with 60s records that were quickly deleted is huge.

2. Hi Slobro!

I let everyone free of their opinion about the results of every artist, Cher included. There is several wrong facts you point out though. First, catalog sales always existed. During the 80s, tons of classical records were sold too. No album was doing 20 million easily during the 80s, in fact Thriller is the only album to reach 23 million during that decade. The albums you quote like Madonna or Whitney did it thanks to decades of sales, even Michael Jackson’s Bad sold ‘only’ 22 million after 3 massive years of sales in 87-89, while global sales were much lower from 1980 to 1986. A blockbuster like The Joshua Tree sold only 14 million units at the time, True Blue shipped 15 million by the end of 1987 and under 17 million by October 1990, which was still enough to make it the highest selling female album ever, ahead of both Whitney LPs.

As for physical singles vs downloads, physical singles averaged 441 million yearly sales from 1980 to 1999, e.g. 132,5 million equivalent album sales using the 1:0,3 ratio. Downloads plus ringstones topped 2 billion during most of Rihanna’s career, worth more than 300 million equivalent album sales.

19. Dan says:

Kinda disappointing, for such a long career.
Great analysis though.

20. SkkyWill says:

The tages “Barbra Streisand” Where? Mistakes？

And “All main awards” without Tony…

Will you do Barbra’s Sales next, she is the real mother of Divas

21. Re: UKmix’ discussion about the accuracy of figures

I was directed to that thread in order to check the relevance of some posters there. A couple of highly uneducated persons have been claiming that Believe album sold only 3,6 million units in the US and that it wasn’t available at Columbia House.

First, it must be said that 3,6 million refers to Soundscan sales only – same for 600,000 of Living Proof. It means that Club sales are unaccounted for from this number.
Second, Believe was obviously available at Columbia House. It wasn’t only available – it was there as early as by April 1999 when the album was peaking inside the BB200. Over the next promotion campaign of the Club on SPIN magazine, it was appearing as the 3rd pictured album, showing it was selling great volumes there.
Third, the album went 4xPlatinum in December 1999. It climbed over Platinum awards steadily (February, April, July, December) and was out of the BB200 Top 100 and decelerating its pace of sales when it managed to hit 4xPlatinum. Thus, with the album selling 10,000 copies a week and an era clearly ending, it is highly delusional to expect a heavy number of additional shipments being sent / unsold by then.
Fourth, the album was up to less than 2,9 million copies scanned when it went 4xPlatinum. Considering facts from point 3, it means the album moved roughly 1 million units on clubs by then. It sold an additional 700,000 plus copies as per Soundscan since then plus it continued to sell on Clubs too which brings the total to 4 million (by 12/1999, RIAA), minus 100,000 unsold units by then (estimate as per pace of sales), plus 700,000 (Soundscan 2000-now), plus 100,000 (Clubs 2000-now), e.g. to 4,7 million.

May I remind how fundamental it is to cross-check every available information and understand it correctly before doing estimates. Randomly checking one raw data doesn’t provide comprehensive and valid conclusions. US sales of the Believe album is just one example, the exercice should be applied to each and every record in each and every market.

1. but says:

Yes educate them

22. This was fascinating. It’s always amusing to me when fans of other more popular female pop singers take such umbrage with Cher’s record, accusing her of an icon status they don’t feel she deserves or a history of hits she has never claimed to have had. Considering how Cher’s career has solely been in the hands of producers like Snuff Garret and Sonny Bono and upwards of 8+ producers piling up on later albums, you can say Cher is too over-produced to be successful. MDNA, in comparison, has an entirely calculated (in a good way) and controlled oeuvre. Cher has never been a successful pop star in comparison and yet she is consistently accused of being simultaneously too popular and calculated (by rock artists who never have pop hits) and not being popular and calculated enough (by fans of young pop hit-makers). This survey proves she is neither calculated nor popular. Which just makes her icon status all the more mysterious and remarkable.

In my mind this probably has to do with her stratified product offerings. Some fans collect the recorded music, some collect movie memorabilia, (some collect movie memorabilia only from the 60s!), some collect the TV shows on bootleg, some collect dolls and toys, some collect posters and magazines, some only go to live shows and collect concert merch, some collect paraphernalia not even relevant to entertainment: for instance, her perfume Uninhibited still sells inexplicably well on Ebay, etc. Other pop stars get into some but not all of these product areas.

I also wonder if her abysmal streaming rates might be due to her older fan base. My Cher Scholar blog site analytics show the highest demographic of 55-64, then 45-54, then 35-44, and dropping off by lower age groups, (in comparison my literature blog shows the exact opposite trend, similarly because older writers don’t use the Internet to connect). Maybe older Cher fans just aren’t use streaming sites. Or possibly listening to Cher on them isn’t satisfying. I’ve only used Pandora but that service has Cher solidly classified as a 80s soft rock artist with the likes of Tina Turner. If I was instead interested in playlists based off Cher as a 60s folk-rock artist, as a 70s torch singer, as a disco queen or a 90s dance-remix artist, I’d be out of luck. AllMusic.com tags Cher under 9 music styles. And that might expose another problem for her: she’s spent too much time dabbling in too many styles to gain momentum in any one or get traction as a suggested artist on Streaming.
Another issue is not the fact that Cher fans have abandoned her back catalog, but Cher herself has.

I have two burning questions:
1. How does YouTube classify streams when many versions of songs are posted by fans with odd titles and misspellings? Does YouTube only count “official” postings of songs by record companies and disregard these bootlegs. Considering Cher’s own abandonment of her back catalog as mentioned above, this is a contributing factor. Few of her songs are “officially” on YouTube. And then only the new ones.
2. When I look over what DOES appear to break out in streaming (specifically Spotify), I’m wondering why the studio-released singles still stand out. Considering the fans on streaming are mostly younger and are likely free of the cultural memory of what those singles even were (especially if they weren’t successful singles), why does this happen? And does it happen with other older artists and their albums from decades past? You’d think streaming, but its nature, would create an even playing field for all the old songs on an album and for new discoveries. Sometimes studios make ignorant mistakes when choosing singles and you’d like to believe streaming would rectify this. But in all of Cher’s case, the studio singles consistently do better than non-single songs.

There were some singles miss-attributed under the Orphan category in the section Streaming Part 3 (Sonny & Cher):

I Surrender (To Your Touch), Leavin’ Town, La la lala La, Their Hearts Were Full of Spring, Two Hearts, Wo Yeah! – these songs were never recorded in any medium by Sonny & Cher or Cher solo.

Once in a Lifetime, Got to Get You Into My Life, Someday, Danny Boy, Something and Hey Jude were from the Sonny & Cher Live album (1971). Or are live albums orphan?

You’ve Got a Friend, Where You Lead, You and I were from the album S&C Live Vol. II (1974).

Miss Subway of 1951 is actually a Cher song from the Dark Lady album (1974).

When You Find Out Where You’re Going Let Me Know is actually a Cher song from the Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves album (1971).

Orphan singles miss-attributed in the section Streaming Part 13:

Chastity’s Song, Chasity Overture, Motel 1, Chastity Walk, Flowers, Chastity Love Theme, Chastity Titles, Motel 2, Chastity Carousel, Mexico, Closing Theme are all from the Chasity movie soundtrack (1969). Since Burlesque soundtrack was separated out, it would seem Chastity would be too.

What I’ll Do I think is actually What’ll I Do from Cher’s Dark Lady album (1974).

Don’t Come Cryin to Me is from Heart of Stone album (1989).

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for was from Cher’s Farewell Tour CD (I suspect) (2003).

I’m No Angel, Hold On, Tougher Than the Rest, Take it to the Limit, The Fire Down Below, Taking it to the Streets are all from Extravaganza Live at the Mirage TV Special (1989) but I think only a video was released officially in 1992. So that’s pure bootleg.

Still, Sisters of Mercy, Runnin, Born With the Hunger, Kurt’s Blues, With or Without You, Fit to Fly, Disaster Cake and Our Lady of San Francisco were all from Cher’s self-produced studio album Not.com.merical (2000) only sold online and at live shows.

There are also missing singles from the mid-70s:
Woman’s Story/Baby I Love You (Warner Bros, 1975)
A Love Like Yours (Don’t Come Knocking Every Day) with Nilsson (Warner Bros, 1975)
You’re Not Right For Me/Wrong Number (S&C single 1977)
I don’t believe any of them charted. But they belong with the other sad songs here. 🙂

1. Hi Mary!

Sorry for the delay in answering, I someway missed your message on first place!

1) Anthony is the one doing the collection of YouTube streams. He goes after every relevant version of all songs one by one. We do not rely on Vevo / Official accounts which indeed miss many videos / views. That’s why there is numbers for nearly every song, even those with 1,000 views. If there is misspellings, some videos can be missed or end inside the Orphan section as a couple of examples you pointed out, although numbers are so low that they don’t change the rounded figure at the nearest 1,000.
2) The big hits always lead the pack thanks to playlists. A lot of Spotify users do not search for tunes specifically, nor they go to artist pages, instead they use playlists, for example “best of the 90s” or whatever. This is how Believe is so much ahead of the rest. Then there is best of albums. The casual ‘fan’ that does go to Cher’s page will still tend to play a greatest hits rather than a studio album. Some artists released way less songs than Cher and need to put album tracks into best of albums, they will tend to follow a higher pattern than album tracks from the same studio album but not inside a best of.

About songs from the Sonny & Cher album Baby Don’t Go indeed they were sang by other artists, I forgot to put them in yellow as we do in such cases, here too they combine for much less than 1,000 sales which is why I overlooked it!

You are correct about Live songs, they go into Orphan tracks. The aim is really to identify how many sales overall were generated from an era. A song an artist covers live is similar to a new song on a best of album, they are out of the standard process of album’s eras. All those tracks fell into ‘Orphan’. I also put non-traditional releases with near 0 sales, I do that for example for debut albums on independent labels (Katy Perry or Eminem had such releases), because they do not represent the real discography of the artist that we know. The Soundtrack Chastity fells into that category of ‘non-valid’ eras, just like Not.com.mercial.

Indeed the singles you mention haven’t chart, I got nothing about them! Even at discogs there is more Promo singles than anything, so really not sure what they sold. Luckily they don’t change the whole picture!

23. Stephen Nield says:

Thanks for this hard work, just a few questions though. It’s a Man’s World can’t be at 225k in the UK as it only sold 101k in 1996 and only reached no.28 in 1995 so that number really should be at 150k max. Also, the Cher 1987 album can’t be at 200k in the UK as it sold less than 100k in 1988 and didn’t chart again. Heart of Stone didn’t reach double platinum in the UK so can’t be at 750k, more like 550k. Great work but some of the album sales for the UK and some other European countries are too high.

1. Hi Stephen!

There is no way It’s a Man’s World is at 150k max with its chart run, you are massively downgrading the Xmas market. The year 1995 was bigger than 2007 in the UK (196m to 193m album sales). Check those figures from 2007:
1wk after Xmas – #65 album sells 7,771 (Cher was #70 on that week)
Xmas Week – #56 album sells 16,062 (Cher was #75 on that week)
2wks before – #51 album sells 14,499 (Cher was #60 on that week)
3wks before – #40 album sells 16,902 (Cher was #53 on that week)
4wks before – #56 album sells 6,147 (Cher was #39 on that week)
5wks before – #40 album sells 8,854 (Cher was #28 on that week)

Basically, she averaged about 12,000 units a week for 7 weeks, which means 84,000 units. Then, you need to consider Brittania Music Club which was strong at that point. You can add 10% on those 185,000 units. Then, it hasn’t gone from 101k in 1996 to 0 in 1997. By experience, I can tell that the worst an album can do from year A to year A+1 is divide its sales by 10 and in fact 10k is a good estimate for It’s a Man’s World in 1997 considering it was still selling 1k/week by September 1996. Add in very low sales since, you get up to 225,000 units shipped to date.

Not sure why you think that the 1987 album sold less than 100,000 units in 1988. In fact, it went Gold in May, 10 of that year! It was Silver as early as in February, which show that it was selling Ok amounts in 1987 although it was outside the Top 100. That’s your main error on all your comments – you seem to assume an album sells 0 as soon as it is out of charts, that’s not how it works. ‘Cher’ started selling in 1987, broke 100k in May 1985 and ended the year on about 125,000 units. Then it continued selling from 5,000 to 10,000 copies a year until the release of Greatest Hits in 1992. This was her first album in CD format, it preceeded two strong efforts and wasn’t cannibalized by compilations when they smashed, you can’t assume it stopped selling during those years. It re-entered the Top 200 in 1995 for two weeks, no doubt if a top 200 was available in 1989-1993 we would have see more occurences of this kind.

Heart of Stone was #28 of the year in 1990, no figure available but at the same position the album from 1989 sold 380,000 units. The market dropped 7% in-between, so you can go with 355,000 units for the year. It was Silver in October 1989 and Gold in November, reaching Plat in February 1990 already. It was solid during Christmas time (similar to It’s a Man’s World) but had several more months to sell. The estimate is 140,000 units for 1989 (sadly the cut-off for the year end chart was as high as 190,000). In 1991 it spent 21 weeks Top 75 averaging about 3,000 units per week giving the market size, that’s 66,000 units, plus 31 weeks just outside, about 1,500 per week, a total of 112,000 for the year – a total of already 635,000 units. It still went top 50 in mid-1992! Again, if the chart was a Top 200, we would have see it charted more often than not until 1993. Even assuming a low 30,000 units for 1992, 15,000 for 1993 and 7,500 per year until 1998, that’s 707,000 units. Then you have 20 more years of catalog sales at 2,000 units per year – it was still moving 20k/year in 2004 in the US and the UK is a much better market for catalog sales.

BTW, you say “can’t be at 750k”, I suppose you refer to the album being “only” 1xP. The automatic process of certifications accounts only for sales since 1994. It wasn’t certified at the time that’s true, but it is irrelevant as it is a Geffen album. They never cared certifying their catalog albums. Even their golden act, Nirvana, is ignored. Nevermind remained 2xP while it was over 2 million, In Utero was still barely Gold until the automatic process, and the Unplugged was barely Platinum. They all sold way more. Same for Appetite For Destruction by Guns N Roses, also a 2 million seller that remains 2xP since 1989. The list goes on and on, Geffen never certified albums after their first 18 months or so.

Oh and German sales are definitely not as low as you expect 😉 you need to consider it was a bigger market than the UK in 1987-1992. Top 20 albms with 20-ish weeks on charts were hitting Gold (250,000) during their promotion campaign, so albums that did close to that and had consistent sales spread over 2 or 3 years sold way, way more than only 100k there!

1. marcus andre says:

MJD, you’re the man! 🙂
A case that impressed me much about UK sales, was the Emma Bunton’s album Life in Mono, which was released near Christmas (December 4), and peaked only 3 weeks there (#65,#75,#79), it sold around 40k in UK, thanks to “Christmas effect”. Cher albums, same case… ^^

2. Stephen Nield says:

Thank you for answering me MJD, I didn’t know that sales were that high in 1995! In terms of the 1987 Cher album, it was only released in the UK in January 1988, so maybe the 200k should be a little lower then.

Also, you have IICTBT: Chers Greatest Hits at 1.2 million in the US but the last update from Billboard was about 955k, so why the big difference?

In terms of Australian sales, I have a contact from Aria who has answered many questions for me about Chers sales and I know that the Greatest Hits 1965-1992 album is only at 25,000 copies, The Greatest Hits (1999) is past 210,000 and the 1987 Cher album is only Gold.

Thanks!

1. Hi Stephen!

Cher (the 1987 album), charted from 1988, it was released in 1987. You can see its release date on BPI site. I Found Someone was released in November too, it peaked in early 1988 pushing the album on charts. Cher was clearly just under the Top 100 during late 87, most likely selling 30k even before charting, which is why it went Silver / Gold early in 1988.

IICTBT was on 955k back in 2011, I’m sure you know we are in 2017 😉 by then it was still selling 15k/year. Then it is a 1999 package when Clubs were good for the last time. As already mentioned, Soundscan =/= comprehensive sales.

About Australia, ARIA aren’t aware of up to date shipments. All their figures are based on scanned units while charting only, which is why a tally for a best of that charted a few weeks only is irrelevant. As for certifications, I do have all Australian certs on Excel already from 1990 to date. The album “Cher” is not certified, GH (1999) is 2xP.

1. Stephen Nield says:

Hi MJD,

I didn’t know it was released in 1987 so thanks for that. Certifications for albums in Australia are based on shipments and Greatest Hits 1965-1992 has only shipped 25k. Aria don’t track sales for older albums but they know the shipments. Cher is certified as Gold in Australia and Greatest Hits 1999 is at 3x Platinum. You can see the certification for the Greatest Hits album here:
http://www.aria.com.au/pages/aria-charts-accreditations-albums-2000.htm

24. Stephen Nield says:

MJD, can you please do a similar post about Spice Girls and Avril Lavigne?

1. marcus andre says:

There’s a CSPC analysis for Spice Girls’s discography yet…

1. Stephen Nield says:

Thanks for that!

25. babyshower says:

“WTF is MDNA?”

An album that has sold more than 94% of all of your albums, Cher

1. Mat says:

Hahaha!

You are sooo bad! But is true!

MDNA >>>

26. marcus andre says:

Closer to the Truth sold 285,000 according to Nielsen Soundscan, as of February 2014, why do you estimate its sales 380,000 in USA?

1. Hi Marcus!

Closer To The Truth kept going in-and-out the BB200 due to her tour bundles. By the end of July 2014, it had already scanned 337,000 copies mostly for that reason and added a few more sales afterwards.

1. marcus andre says:

Thank You MJD! 😉

27. exwhyzed says:

Why the single ‘Little Man’ isn’t included in her top selling singles list? It sold more than 1,5 million copies in the 60s, and was a top 10 hit in 15 countries ( #1 in five countries).