CSPC: Queen Popularity Analysis

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Records & Achievements

  • At 238,6 million equivalent album sales, Queen are the second most successful group of all-time behind the Beatles
  • At 225,6 million equivalent album sales, Queen produced more value during their active years (1973-1991) than anyone minus Michael Jackson who’s at 261,7 million
  • At 35,5 million equivalent album sales, A Night at the Opera is the most successful album from 1975
  • At 28,7 million equivalent album sales, News of the World is the fourth most successful album from 1977
  • At 29,2 million equivalent album sales, The Game is the second most successful album from 1980
  • At 10, Queen is the second act with the most albums over 10 million equivalent album sales, the Beatles have 12. Madonna and the Rolling Stones are third with 9.
  • At 9, Queen has the most singles over 10 million equivalent album sales. Michael Jackson has 8, the Beatles 7
  • At 13 consecutive albums, Queen has the longest streak of all-time of studio albums generating over 1 million physical singles sales combined
  • At 10 consecutive albums, Queen has the longest streak of all-time of studio albums with at least one million selling physical single
  • At 58 million digital sales, Queen has the second highest selling pre-2000 catalog behind Michael Jackson
  • Queen is the only act with two 7-million selling catalog songs in digital format
  • Queen is the only act along with Michael Jackson with five 4-million selling catalog songs in digital format, the Guns N’ Roses have 3
  • Queen have 14 singles pre-2000 over 1 million digital sales. Only Michael Jackson has more at 20.
  • Queen is the only act with 4 pre-2000 studio albums with over 300,000 equivalent album sales from streams
  • At 6,9 million, The Platinum Collection is the highest selling box set of all-time.
  • At 4,69 million, Queen is the highest selling international album act of all-time in the Netherlands
  • At nearly 150,000 units, Greatest Hits II is the highest selling foreign album ever in Finland.
  • At 331 million, Bohemian Rhapsody is the most streamed song from the 70s at Spotify
  • At 229 million, Don’t Stop Me Now is the fourth most streamed song from the 70s at Spotify

58 thoughts on “CSPC: Queen Popularity Analysis”

  1. Great total for Queen, 4th on your ranking. I imagine only Elton John and Elvis Presley could potentially push them down the list.

  2. Oh man, this is incredible to see………and beating the Rolling Stones??? Crazy
    I went over every inch of this article with great pleasure. Thank you SOOO Much.
    Cannot wait for Elton John and Rod Stewart!!!!!

  3. “Along with the ups and downs, among the Classic Rock groups Queen also never received the immaculate press that accompanied the likes of the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Their success isn’t rated nearly as high as them either, Queen are instead put alongside the likes of U2, the Eagles and AC/DC.”

    I disagree with that part, only someone from the US can say something like that.
    In Europe, and especially in the UK, Queen are considered (and rightfully so) one of the, if not THE greatest band of all time.

    P.S. I knew they would crush Led Zeppelin. Glad they’re over Pink Floyd and the RS as well.

    1. Hi Dan!

      As you know, I’m myself not from the US 😉

      It is well known that Queen aren’t given the credit they deserve by the press / critics. If you go to besteveralbums.com for example, a website merging together tons of “greatest” lists, the highest charted album by Queen is A Night at the Opera at #72. It comes after:
      – 5 albums by the Beatles (all Top 22)
      – 4 albums by Pink Floyd, Radiohead
      – 3 albums by the Stones, Led Zeppelin
      – 2 albums by Nirvana, Joy Division, Arcade Fire
      – 1 album by the Guns, Weezer, Love, Sigur Ros, White Stripes, Pixies, R.EM., The Cure, Television, Wilco, the Velvet Underground, the Arctic Monkeys, Talking Heads, Oasis, Pearl Jam, U2, the Stones Roses, Fleetwood Mac, the Who, My Bloody Valentine, the Doors, the Strokes, the Smiths, the Beach Boys, the Clash

      Not only that, ANATO is their only album inside the Top 500. On it, you will get:
      – 10 albums by the Beatles
      – 9 albums by David Bowie
      – 8 albums by Radiohead, Pink Floyd
      – 7 albums by Bob Dylan
      – 6 albums by Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen

      As you can see, the press is largely unfair to them. It is also inaccurate as you will find plenty of articles, including by serious Medias, arguying bands like Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin are much bigger, only because they have higher RIAA certifications. As inaccurate it may be, the idea has been spreading for very long and you will find tons of people thinking it is true. To be honest, I’m quite satisfied to set back some accuracy in the middle of all those incorrect news!

      1. That’s quite sad, i thought it was only by American journals, like The Rolling Stone.

        I have a statistical question – i’ve read a while ago that their longest charting single was Love of my life, which stayed over a year on the Argentinian charts. Is that true?

        p.s. where are you from?

        1. Hi Dan!

          I’ll let Hernan tell you if he has that info since he is the expert in topics related to Latin America 🙂

          Indeed, it’s always kind of sad when some people try to dictate others what they should think. Luckily, time is doing its work and the real popularity of Queen is becoming more visible every year.

          I’m from France, from a Portuguese family, although I’m living in Democratic Republic of Congo at the moment!

        2. Hello Dan,

          Thanks for all the comments.

          Love Of My Life was a very strong hit for Queen in Latin America, but it is Brazil where it actually charted higher and longer. It spent many weeks in the local chart from 1979 to 1980, being Top 10 in many non-consecutive weeks. This would suggest the single spent plenty of weeks charting perhaps in the Top 20/Top 30 in the intervening weeks. As far as I could check, it reached number 2 in the chart, although I don’t have access to its whole chart performance in order to determine whether it was number 1 or not.

          And because I have no access to its complete chart details, I can’t tell you whether it spent more than a year in the chart or not. We know it had a big performance, exactly how many weeks did it spend in the chart I’m not sure unfortunately. I wish all information was easily available.

          It was big in other parts of the region too, but it didn’t fair that well in any other country as it did in Brazil.

          1. Too bad some countries don’t keep accurate and easy to access statistical data 🙁
            Thanks in any case!

  4. Queen still has millions buying their ALBUMS. Every decade people “discover” the untouchable band and Freddie. I myself am 62 and still buy/replace because CD’s go bad after so many years. Freddie Mercury was a magnificent self made creature from beginning to end. Even Hot Space & Mr Bad Guy were way ahead of their time. It was Techno not Disco. You only need to hear one or two notes to know you are listening to Freddie. As a whole the talent was untouchable. They were a business entity who took their job seriously. To Queen it was all about the fan, they gave us much, and let us know how important we were. There is a legacy and we, the fans, are a big part of it.

  5. Was this worth the wait? ABSOLUTELY, MJD this work is just phenomenal, from all us Queen fans thanks (and to Hernan as well whom I’m sure was involved).

    And the reward for all your hard work is that this article has been featured on Brian May’s official website!!! Congratulations again on a stunning piece of work.

    1. Hi Lee!

      Thanks to you and all other people from this page for the very nice words! Those articles require a lot of work (to give you an idea, I have over 2,550 estimates on my Excel sheet for Queen, some 1,117 streaming figures collected plus 2,288 singles to compilations assignations) so reading those very nice comments are incredibly rewarding and make it feel worth the investment, even more when it comes from official websites like the one of the great Brian May!

      I use your comment to indeed thanks my teammates Hernan and Anthony! They are essential to those studies. As you can guess, Hernan was involved more than ever to bring his insights on the band’s results 😉

  6. Great numbers ! Their sales is Italy are particularly astonishining, I think. However, I was wondering, why did their second greatest hits album sell so much less than the first one in Japan ?

    Their ever-lasting success I think can be explained, obviiously by the great quality of the music but also by the fact that it never gets old and, therefore, can still be played on the radio. In France, Queen is easily the most-played rock band.

    1. Hi Rell!

      Japan was surprisingly one of the very first supportive markets of Queen, maybe even before the UK. They were highly popular during mid 70s. Just like in the US, this resulted in them turning out of fashion while various European countries like France or Italy were barely getting into them. By ‘The Game’ they were already in a decreasing hype there – Greatest Hits covers 11 of their charting hits, against only one for Greatest Hits II.

  7. Outstanding total. I’ve always argued that their albums didn’t connect with the public the way similar artists did but when it comes to stand alone tracks they easily surpass the likes of Floyd & Zeppelin.

    I hope this analysis puts to bed all those doubts from all of those diva doubters about the power, sales and enduring popularity of Queen.

    I’m too reckon they will oust Madonna relatively soon, she quite simply does not have the lasting appeal & continued popularity they do.

    1. Hi Dan!

      We have re-organized that part to avoid repeating always the same information and having it outdated in every old article. Instead of putting it there, the Data Collector is updated immediately after the publication of a new artist – you can check it, Queen and their albums/singles are on it already!

  8. Page 40 – You give ‘The Platinum Collection’ 6,900,000 Global Sales as a Box Set? But, as it has
    3 ‘Greatest Hits’ Albums in it, you count it as each of those 3 Albums selling 6,900,000. Thus
    turning the 6,900,000 Sales, of the Box Set, into 20,700,000? Isn’t that illogical? If a Box Set sells
    6.9 Million, then that is ‘all’ that it has sold. If you allocate its Sales to each Album in it, then you
    are really counting the 6,900,000 Box Set Sales 3 times.

    The same with the 1994 ‘Greatest Hits I & II’ Set. If you give its 3,700,000 Sales to the 2 Albums in
    it, then you are counting the Sales of the Double CD twice.

    For example – ABBA’s 2008, 9 CD Box Set – ‘The Albums’ – has sold around 70,000 copies, in the
    UK. It has not sold 630,000, which is what you get, if you give its UK 70,000 Sales to each of the
    9 Albums that it contains.

    1. Hi Colin!

      I would have argued the same way as you do some years ago but not anymore. The CSPC approach is more sophisticated that flat album sales. Everything is weighted – a physical single is worth less than an album, a download less than a physical single, and a stream less than a download. In the same range of idea, a box is naturally bigger than an album. As soon as you put everything in equivalent album sales, you can’t count a mere 70,000 units for a 9 CD Box Set into the original albums. That would mean that Arrival is responsible for, say, 20k sales, and the remaining albums for 5-10k each. But those 70,000 persons did got Arrival in full, ABBA, The Visitors, Voulez-Vous, etc., they haven’t got only a fraction of them.

      You must put it under a sales-cannibalization point of view. As soon as someone buys one of this box, he won’t need to something else of the artist anymore. Platinum Collection by Queen did took off millions and millions of sales away from the individual greatest hits albums, way more than only 6,9 million combined. In the same way that MJ’s Number Ones sold so relatively poorly because HIStory included a best of already. Just like people who bought the Beatles remasters stereo boxes haven’t pick individual albums after that because they got them all already. Created value in equivalent album sales is simply way more meaningful to gauge the popularity of an artist than flat units sold which are biased by tons of technicalities!

  9. I do wonder how Queen greatest hits is certified 8 times platinum in U.S. , but you have sales at 2.3 million. Could they have possibly shipped 5.7 million extra units that didn’t sell? That seems unlikely

    1. Hi Nathan!

      The RIAA authorized the similar titled compilation from 1992 to be certified along with the original 1981 package. To us, it makes no sense to merge both compilations since they do not include the same tracks at all so the provider of their appeal aren’t the same albums, which is why we seperated them. If you merge all of them, the 1981 set sold 2,35 million, the 1992 album 7,5 million, the 2004 version in on 1,45 million, the Greatest Hits I&II did 1,15 million, its US equivalent Queen Collection 75k and The Platinum Collection 1,2 million, in other words the Americans bought over 13,7 million units of Queen’s records titled “Greatest Hits”.

  10. Yaass, come through Queen. I’m not at all surprised by these numbers. They were big in their initial career and even bigger in recent decades thanks in part to their general appeal and their music aging so well. I’ve always said the only classic rock band more loved by all ages is The Beatles.

  11. I was looking at the Spotify streaming figures and a lot of their albums seem to have tracks with far higher listens/plays than they actually have.

    1. Hi Martin!

      Do not forget that Spotify has seperate counts for various versions of the same song, they are track counts rather than song counts. Queen released plenty of live albums, Anthony went through all of them to combine every version of each song to get the totals presented here. In reality, all numbers should be slightly higher instead as they were collected a few days ago 🙂

  12. Just out of curiosity – how many albums did the Beatles sell in the UK? Can’t find it on their analysis, curious how it compares to the 26,695,000 sold by Queen. And Europe in general?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. There is no way of telling how many copies were shipped in the UK or Europe for some of the “Remaining Long Format” products, as they are not broken down by country but providing I’ve added everything up correctly & included all that can be, here are their UK & Europe totals for available albums;

      Album — UK — EUR
      Please Please Me — 1,235,000 — 2,090,000
      With the Beatles — 1,260,000 — 2,750,000
      A Hard Day’s Night — 1,415,000 — 2,380,000
      Beatles for Sale — 1,320,000 — 2,350,000
      Help! — 1,320,000 — 2,380,000
      Rubber Soul — 1,730,000 — 3,230,000
      Revolver — 1,890,000 — 3,330,000
      Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band — 3,290,000 — 6,110,000
      Magical Mystery Tour — 615,000 — 1,350,000
      The Beatles (White Album) — 1,720,000 — 3,970,000
      Yellow Submarine — 300,000 — 820,000
      Abbey Road — 2,080,000 — 5,070,000
      Let It Be — 950,000 — 2,180,000
      1962-1966 (The Red Album) (1973) — 1,865,000 — 8,870,000
      1967-1970 (The Blue Album) (1973) — 1,915,000 — 9,050,000
      Rock ‘n’ Roll Music (1976) — 150,000 — 860,000
      The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977) — 315,000 — 900,000
      Love Songs (1977) — 250,000 — 970,000
      20 Greatest Hits (1982) — 500,000 — 1,000,000
      Past Masters, Volume One (1988) — 330,000 — 820,000
      Past Masters, Volume Two (1988) — 365,000 — 920,000
      Live at the BBC (1994) — 880,000 — 2,420,000
      Anthology 1 (1995) — 785,000 — 2,340,000
      Anthology 2 (1996) — 355,000 — 960,000
      Anthology 3 (1996) — 275,000 — 710,000
      Yellow Submarine Songtrack (1999) — 155,000 — 440,000
      1 (2000) — 3,275,000 — 1,109,000
      Let It Be… Naked (2003) — 295,000 — 890,000
      Love (2006) — 830,000 — 2,300,000
      Totals — 31,665,000 — 72,569,000

      1. It is an interesting comparison. Guillaume can comment on this, but I remember he had The Beatles above 32-33 million mark in the UK, so 6-7 million above Queen, which makes perfect sense. If we count all records sold and apply our CSPC’s approach, The Beatles are the biggest act in the UK for sure, but the gap is nowhere near as big as several reserachers have suggested over the years; I recall one stating that The Beatles sold more than twice as many albums and records as Queen in their home country. That was wrong.

        Another curious thing, probably to the surprise of some people, is that Queen seem to have sold more albums than The Beatles in Mainland Europe overall (excluding the UK), including markets like Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal or Poland, amongst others.

        1. Sales in Europe (inc. UK):

          Queen – 91,245,000
          Michael Jackson – 90,730,000
          The Beatles – 72,569,000 (seems a bit low?)
          Madonna – 79,330,000
          Pink Floyd – 80,780,000
          Rolling Stones – ?

          1. Hi Dan!

            From my Excel spreadsheet, I can tell you the Beatles have 33,14 million identified sales in the UK and 86,23 million in Europe (inc. UK). For various small releases, there is no specific figure written (the case of “N/A”) so you can expect the total to be slightly higher, but not by much. Thus, they indeed fell short of Queen in spite of higher UK sales.

            It is quite natural as from the remaining 9 countries of the main sample, Queen sold way more (at least 20/30% more) in each Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria and Finland. The Beatles are only ahead in France and Sweden, both times by less than 10%. It must be said that sales in continental Europe took longer to be developed than in the US/UK, which explains the lower sales than guessed of the Beatles there.

            The Rolling Stones are on 17,4 million in the UK and 68,59 million overall, again with various minor “N/As”.

          2. MJD could you please tell me how many albums has The Beatles sold in the USA??

            thank you so much in advance

          3. Hi Mau89!

            The Beatles comprehensive spreadsheet includes 59 releases with figures for their US album sales which add for 168,27 million.

  13. Thank you very much for the wonderful job you did on the QUEEN’s CSPC. I’m not surprised by the QUEEN’s total album sales, att all. Beacuse of, most of Queen’s music is/was meticulously calculated show-biz stuff.

  14. MJD thank you. These figures are amazing, the amount of time and work that went into it must have been huge and such detail! So pleased to see Queen having done this well. I remember during the late 80’s Queen were so unfashionable and yet they are one of the few bands who actually seem to become more popular as the years go by where as many of their peers seem to be fading. Their music was incredibly accessible for both rock and pop fans so I think that is a big part of it, many people think they were a singles band but if you look at the figures you can see they were so much more. Thanks again and I’m looking forward to the day they surpass Madonna! 🙂

  15. In front of this piece of work, we only have to make an applause. It was a remerkable work and it was also published both in the Facebook Official Page and in the Official Website of Dr. Brian May!!

    https://www.facebook.com/BrianMayCom/photos/a.596858203660781.1073741828.575281589151776/1706209849392272/?type=3&theater

    https://brianmay.com/queen/queennews/queennewsoct17.html#37

    What to add…. Queen are at the number 2 in the most selling bands, behind Beatles ony. Albeit someone thinks Queen are not going great things nowadays (for example the new releases, such as On Air, Odeon, Rainbow), they have an extraordinary catalogue, which keeps achieving great results till to day, above all their Hits albums.
    The figure that most impressed me, regards the digital tracks: 58,000,000. It’s an impressive figure, but not completely surprising. In the United States Queen are only second to Beatles as sellers of digital singles. We Will Rock You has recently reached the 4th Platinum, Bohemian Rhapsody has sold 4,450,000 and it’s close the the 5th Platinum. They are extremely high numbers.

  16. I just want to thank you again…………this site and the work you do is something I look forward to so much.
    Especially the artists I have listened to all my life (like Queen or George Michael)
    I think you might be doing the most important work on artists true sales (unadulterated)
    then anyone else in the WORLD.

    I honestly think you should start a wikipedia page with all your info……….the world needs to see this.

    My 1 request……….is Rod Stewart’s sales. ( I already voted……..but I know it’s never going to reach the top voting. Plus I’m pretty sure you’ve already done a lot of his album assessments on
    U.K. mix if I’m not mistaken. 🙂 )

  17. Ok, I’m really confused on one thing and I may have overlooked something very simple. Queen’s sales of ‘Greatest hits’ is at 2.3 million units in the USA here and yet it was certified as being 8 times platinum almost 10 years ago and I think it should be close to diamond by now. Have the remaining sales been added elsewhere?

    1. Hi Nuclear dolphin!

      Please check this answer to Nathan I posted earlier 😉

      The RIAA authorized the similar titled compilation from 1992 to be certified along with the original 1981 package. To us, it makes no sense to merge both compilations since they do not include the same tracks at all so the provider of their appeal aren’t the same albums, which is why we seperated them. If you merge all of them, the 1981 set sold 2,35 million, the 1992 album 7,5 million, the 2004 version in on 1,45 million, the Greatest Hits I&II did 1,15 million, its US equivalent Queen Collection 75k and The Platinum Collection 1,2 million, in other words the Americans bought over 13,7 million units of Queen’s records titled “Greatest Hits”

  18. MJD

    The Queen Popularity analysis is excellent – superb work by yourself, Hernan, and Anthony.

    I have one issue with the figures though. For the life of me I can’t see how ‘The Show Must Go On’ was on 113,578,000 streams on Spotify when the analysis was done. At the moment the main track in on 57,702,935 as of today. The only other time it is on Spotify is the live track from the ‘Return of The Champions’ live album with Paul Rodgers which is currently only on 329,765.

    What I think might have happened is that whoever did the Spotify numbers maybe double-counted this track as there is the remastered album AND the deluxe albums for all studio albums (apart from ANATO for some reason). All the numbers are the same for both normal and deluxe numbers so 113,578,000 divided by 2 is 56,789,000 which probably was the Spotify number at the time the counting was done.

    If this has happened it won’t make much difference to the final numbers (Queen have probably already been streamed more times overall on Spotify since the count was made) but the calculation will be out a bit as Innuendo will be smaller then what it would be if these streaming numbers for SMGO weren’t double counted. Likewise other albums such as The Works, etc will have their numbers increased.

    Am I right here or am I missing something?

  19. Also the streaming numbers for The show must go on’ are double of what the actual number is on Spotify. The actual number is about 56 million I think, I was wondering where the others come from. There are also other songs that are much higher than I can see.

    1. MJD already answered that question to another user :

      “Do not forget that Spotify has seperate counts for various versions of the same song, they are track counts rather than song counts. Queen released plenty of live albums, Anthony went through all of them to combine every version of each song to get the totals presented here. In reality, all numbers should be slightly higher instead as they were collected a few days ago “

  20. I don’t go with that. The streaming numbers for Bohemian Rhapsody have hardly changed and yet it appears on countless live albums and compilations. The show must go on was only recorded live twice, once with Elton John and once with Paul Rodgers, the numbers are small and yet the numbers are huge.

  21. In having different two different labels selling different packages in the USA and Europe, much in the same way the Beatles did, doesn’t that help them in the long run, as people end up buying the inferior US greatest hits packages, and later buying the European packages when they are available in the USA as a box set? I remember after Freddie’s death and the popularity of Bohemian Rhapsody from Wayne’s World buying the Classic Queen compilation, then buying the European Greatest hits import, then later buying the box set of Greatest hits I II and III, effectively buying Bohemian Rhapsody 3 times, just to upgrade to better package with more hits.

  22. Hello!
    Thank you so much for such a valuable and hard work, it’s invaluable for a Queen fan like me. My name is Natalia Stanusch, and Queen is my favorite band for last eight years. I am so happy that somebody finally creates a professional work that proofs so much. Thank you!

    Also, If I could have a question for you, I would be very pleased. I’m a student at American University John Cabot in Rome. Currently, I am working on an infographic for my Visual Communications class, and I would like to use some of your dates to create charts (I’ll give source and link, of course), yet there is one thing that is not clear to me, and I would be more then happy if you could help me.

    So, Queen sold 238,6 million equivalent album sales, so like, in total (because there’s also “At 225,6 million equivalent album sales, Queen produced more value during their active years (1973-1991) than anyone minus Michael Jackson who’s at 261,7 million”). I would like to compare Queen to U2, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones as you did, but also to Michael Jackson, and I’ve got confused which number of Queen’s equivalent album sales should I use…

    Thank you so much in advance,
    Kindest Regards,
    Natalia

    1. Hi Natalia!

      Both figures are correct – 238,6 million is the comprehensive total of Queen that you should use. The figure of 225,6 million refers strictly to their material issued from 1973 to 1991, which means it excludes most notably the Made In Heaven era. I hope it helps!

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