CSPC: Rihanna Popularity Analysis

Rihanna Plastic Surgery


So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album by Rihanna 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 Good Girl Gone Bad released in digital format sold the equivalent of 7,026,000 albums – 46,840,000 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)

This is it! There is little surprise to see Good Girl Gone Bad finishes at the top. It is no surprise either to see how singles translated from physical to downloads to streaming over the years. What is already much more surprising is the magnitude of sales that each album generated. In fact, Good Girl Gone Bad is at over 17,45 million overall units  while Loud is on 13,1 million. Four more albums, all except the first and the last ones, are over 6 million units. ANTI will eventually reach this threshold as well as it stands at 5,2 million and its streams remain solid.

Our CSPC approach enables us to get a more realistic outlook on an album’s true popularity, as shown in these  results. If each A Girl Like Me, Rated R, Talk That Talk and Unapologetic sold under 4 million units by themselves, the last two are still arguably bigger than the former two in the mind of everyone well aware of Rihanna‘s career. Using CSPC figures, both A Girl Like Me and Rated R are around 6 million while both Talk That Talk and Unapologetic are around 9 million, better reflecting their respective successes.

An interesting line is the one for our conceptual Orphan Album, which serves as a folder for all tracks which are not a part of Rihanna‘s own studio albums. Despite having by definition zero studio album sales, this line adds for a massive 17,7 million equivalent album sales almost exclusively due to download and streaming sales.

All in all, Rihanna sold a total of 33 million pure albums, an average of just over 4 million per album. More important than anything else however, is she shifted the equivalent of 86,8 million albums, an average of 8,6 million per album plus 17,7 million orphan sales, tallies which are still increasing as the days go by. Those figures make her the most successful artist that first emerged during this millennium!

The following pages list her most successful songs as well as her records and achievements. 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 her position in the history of the music industry.

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

Sources: IFPI, Universal-Vivendi, Spotify, YouTube, Chartmasters.org.

53 thoughts on “CSPC: Rihanna Popularity Analysis”

    1. Nah. She is still so far away from Madonna and Celine Dion, and the fact that her last album was kind of a flop, indicates her popularity is slowing down already. I dont think she will ever beat Celine Dion & Madonna CSPC results. Though she will definitely beat Britney Spears results and there is a slim possibility she might beat Whitney and Mariah results too.

    1. That is more than Mariah Carey singles and album sales combined. To me she has more big hits than any other female singers ever. But she just doesnt have the star quality and the stage presence, that will make her the talk of the press.

  1. How is it possible that “Loud” only sold 70,000 in Brazil, the same as “Red” by Taylor Swift? “Loud” has definitely sold more than “Red” in Brazil. Since Taylor was ignored much part of her career by Latin countries until the arrival of “1989” (largely due to being a country-pop singer).

    And why do not you have information about the sales of Argentina and Mexico from “Loud”? That album was very popular here in Latin America

    1. Hi JRVV,

      Feelings should never be involved in sales figures. Loud took 3 years to reach Platinum for 40,000 physical units shipped in Brazil, plus downloads. Identified codes for both Red and Loud suggest roughly 50,000 CDs sold, again downloads need to be then added. Why would I assume Loud sold more while facts prove otherwise? Loud failed to reach Gold in both Mexico and Argentina (or at least no such information leaked) which is why there is no specific figure mentioned, which doesn’t mean sales there were ignored. In the former country, it peaked at #17 and failed the annual Top 100 ranking. Once again why would I assume huge sales when facts contradict it? Taylor was “ignored” until 1989, then how come Speak Now went #8 in Mexico, out-peaking every Rihanna album to date?

      1. I know that the sales of the ringtones are included in addition to the digital ones. My question was: Where can I find the sales of the Ringtones separately ?.

  2. Take A Bow – 9,660,000
    Rude Boy – 7,300,000

    I’m surprised by how high these 2 are, considering they’re both around 3M on Soundscan. Can you explain how you got the numbers for these 2 songs, please? How did they surpass a smash like “Don’t Stop the Music” in digital sales?

    1. Hi but!

      Take A Bow is estimated on 2,5 million units to date in South Korea. It is also her second best selling ringtones in the US at 2 million units, topped only by Umbrella. Rude Boy is set on 1,1 million for US ringtones. In the other side, DSTM is under half a million there and the market in various countries, including in the UK or in Canada, was much weaker in 2007 than in 2010, which explains how Rude Boy edges out that song WW.

        1. Hi JRVV,

          There is specific figures for Ringtones in the US, France and Japan inserted into the Excel sheet. The remaining countries have their RTs estimated with the DL/RT share of each country depending on the year, inside the same formula that sets Worldwide figure for missing markets so there is no Worldwide total for RTs only.

          Her US figures are listed below:
          2,3 million – Umbrella
          2,0 million – Take A Bow
          1,9 million – Love The Way You Lie
          1,4 million – Live Your Life
          1,2 million – Unfaithful
          1,1 million – Rude Boy
          900,000 – Run This Town
          700,000 – Disturbia

          From 400,000 to 500,000 sales:
          Don’t Stop The Music
          Hate That I Love You
          Pon De Replay
          Only Girl (In The World)

          From 200,000 to 300,000:
          Break It Off
          What’s My Name?
          We Found Love
          Shut Up And Drive

          The remaining songs are under 200,000 units.

    1. Hmm, not sure which figures you saw but Pon de Replay was previously set on 3,2 against 3,39 million now! Maybe you refer to SOS which went from 4,3 million to 4,27 million which is due to formula adjustments / rounding to nearest 10k rather than 100k.

      1. I got confused, I wanted to refer to physical sales. I remember that before the Update “Pon De Replay” was in 4M between digital and physical sales. And now with the Update is close to 3.8M

        1. Pon de Replay went from 450k to 390k, once again due to the change in weighting for remaining markets. This was discussed over the article of the Spice Girls – sales of physical markets disappeared in various low markets (like Canada, Ireland, New-Zealand, Austria) years before they vanished in the twin, bigger market (US, UK, Australia, Germany). Thus extrapolations based on the latter markets to estimate the former ones were giving too high results. This has all been adjusted during the last 18 months.

          Also, rather than setting an automatic % of total sales for physical singles in all countries, I went through every single / release history to see which song was available on which market. For example Who’s That Chick sold well in the UK so a standard % on total sales would have granted it some physical sales there, but the song wasn’t released in CD.

  3. I went to Spotify, went into the settings, and I put that showed me the songs that were not available. And “Run This Town” has: 104,336,118 streams in Spotify.

    1. Hi JRVV!

      Thanks for this info, I’ll adjust it! I didn’t had a new figure for that song since the last time I had written her numbers last summer, so again thanks!

  4. MJD, maybe you can also include the info that the Samsung deal had 1 million albums sold for anti but is not added to the album sales, which may also explain why anti album sales is still only more than 1 million albums sold.

  5. Hello …

    So by this sales does it mean Rihanna surpassed Madonna’s Record sales??? Can u tell me in general where does Rihanna land on the list of best selling artists in history, who specifically are the artists she is yet to surpass along with their record sales.. Basing on your sales tracking method…


    1. Hi Colyn!

      The only tracking method we back up is to weight every format together with appropriate ratio. It is a nonsense to mix digital singles with albums as if they were the same products. Then, why not putting every stream on par with album sales and claim that Ariana Grande sold more than Madonna too? As you can see, this makes no sense. The only indicator that makes sense is that Rihanna moved nearly 87 million equivalent album sales while Madonna is on 241 million.

        1. Hello MJD

          I do understand the logic of the difference between digital singles to physical albums but still there is something known as total records moved by an artist. Which is taking the singles plus the albums together done by the music industry in years.. And that’s what I wanted to know. If we compare Rihanna and Madonna together … How much do we get.. Coz from your list of things it shows Rihanna surpassed Madonna. Even tho Rihanna has poor physical sales and Madonna poor digital sales but still their just sales. Plz elaborate!!

  6. Hi! I have a question. Each album sale is generated by 1500 streams. Similarly, each single sale is generated by 150 streams. If so…

    Her 11,770,000,000 Spotify streams result in 7,846,666 million albums overall, but do they also result in additional 78,466,660 single sales for Rihanna as well? Are we supposed to count them both for her overall records sold?

    1. Hi Laura!

      No, we aren’t supposed to count them several times. We are free to decide the common measure (album, single etc) and adjust every format on that figure. We can say that Rihanna sold “86,8 million equivalent album sales” just like we could theorically say that she sold “578 million equivalent digital singles”, but we can’t say that she sold “87 million albums and 578 million singles”, that is purely double counting!

      1. But don’t the IFPI and RIAA and others do that? Like when GGGB went 5x platinum and its singles’ certification rose, they clearly counted 150 streams into the singles and 1500 streams into the album units.
        Or am I wrong? Did they do it some way else?

        1. The RIAA and the IFPI will give both point of views (album / single) depending on the context / list, but they will never double-count the same figures. You will never read the RIAA state that GGGB sold “5 million albums and xx million singles”, that just make no sense at all.

          1. I see, so overall records sold are preferably separated for singles and albums rather than combine I understand.

  7. “At 251,1 million downloads and ringtones sold, Rihanna is the highest selling digital artist of all-time.”

    Just out of curiosity, is there a top 100 list for this?

  8. Hi Colyn!

    The only tracking method we back up is to weight every format together with appropriate ratio. It is a nonsense to mix digital singles with albums as if they were the same products. Then, why not putting every stream on par with album sales and claim that Ariana Grande sold more than Madonna too? As you can see, this makes no sense. The only indicator that makes sense is that Rihanna moved nearly 87 million equivalent album sales while Madonna is on 241 million.

    Your method compensates the sales of albums that were replaced by itunes and streaming, but not the sales of albums that have been missing due to piracy, which have been many more.

    Do you think that if Rihanna had debuted when Madonna she would have had only sold one third of what Madonna has sold in albums? Rihanna already has almost as many world hits as Madonna. She has 30 top 10 in the United States and the United Kingdom. Could you tell me an artist of the 80s and 90s that approaches that amount of hits (very difficult) and has sold less than 140 million albumes equivalentes?

    1. Hi Post,

      Your comparison isn’t accurate. You say that with 30 top 10 hits, she would have sold more than a third of Madonna’s albums. The real question is, do you think that in the 80s with an album-axed music market, she would have got 30 Top 10 hits? The answer is a clear no. First, you need to take out all features as they do not generate album sales for her. Second, every single that came deep into an era would have peaked much lower due to the cannibalization from the sales of the album. A song like Hate That I Love You which went #7 in the US, if all persons who downloaded Umbrella had bought the album instead, then it would have been bought much less as a single, it would have realistically peak in the 15-20 area back in the 80s. Same for Break it Off, same for Hard, same for Cheers, same for Where Have You Been, same for Needed Me, etc. Back in the 80s, she would be up to roughly 15 ‘valid’ (from her own albums) Top 10s in both the US and the UK.

      Then piracy. It is a very wrong myth to believe that piracy impacted only artists from recent years. The piracy was everywhere during the 80s with blank cassettes selling massively and people registering songs airing on radio. When Madonna started as many as one third of records sold were blank records – and they were used several times. Entire markets like Asian ones were almost non existant due to that.

      The biggest element you are missing is that Madonna has 34 years of sales accumulated. By 1995, her album sales were way lower than today, Rihanna too will climb thanks to catalog sales (Madonna did it through TIC / S2R, Rihanna is exploiting it thanks to streams), so even if by now she only has roughly 35% of her total sales, the sheer value of her catalog is likely closer to more than half of M’s total. In fact, applying the CSPC to Madonna up to mid-1995 the result is about 130 million. Then you need to consider the size of the discography when using the 241m figure as a comparison point, Rihanna has 8 albums, Madonna has 16 (13+3).

      Put all that together and it sounds fairly normal to see them respectively on 87m and 241m up to date.

      1. I understand what you mean, but the last artists to sell more than 100 million of albums in SPS were Eminem and Britney (maybe), who debuted in 1998. So for 20 years, only two artists have got that . But, between 1980 and 2000, a lot of artists reached a hundred million. In my opinion, this proves that the SPS cannot compare the artists who have made their debut in recent years with those of the 80 and 90.

        And if you were right, because your arguments seem true, it is that this generation of artists are not as successful as the previous generations. But why aren’t they so successful ? Why is there more competition? I think there was also a lot of comepetition before…

        1. Hi again Post!

          The aim isn’t to get equal figures for all eras – the music industry was worth $40 billion per year by the end of the 90s, it dropped as well as $15 billion in recent years, this must have an impact on figures. It must quite simply because this gross means something, it means the general public have put less money into music / the music as a whole has been less popular.

          The whole industry became less profitable, which means investments were reduced too. Unlike in the 90s, artists aren’t promoted on general public Medias anymore. 20 years ago, singers were going to Oprah every week. By now, the only one with promotion on the largest channels is Adele and we can see the results. Most artists beside her are only promoted on music-axed Medias / TV Channels. Someone like P!nk who belongs to the highest selling artists of the last 15 years is unknown by every mom over 40 in most countries. In the past, the rare artists who did sell 100m units in relatively few time (and there is less than you think) were known by everyone from 7 to 77. If you check all artists on 40-70m from the last 15 years like Aguilera, Alicia Keys or P!nk, they are all arguably less popular than the likes Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey or Celine Dion, while the likes Coldplay, Taylor Swift, Adele and Rihanna, who arguably crossed over the main audience, only need additional time to see their catalog exploited before reaching 100 million.

  9. There’s a mistake with ANTI, in Mexico sold 60,000 it was certified platinum in November 2016 and at that time AMPROFON doesn’t include stream in certifications.

    1. Hi Tyh,

      Amprofon include streaming / TEA in certifications since October 2015. ANTI failed to rank inside the Annual Top 100 best selling albums of the year with a cut-off mark estimated on 8,000 units, there is no error on its figure.

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