CSPC: Eagles Popularity Analysis

Eagles 8-Track

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.

Part 1 – Compilations

How to understand this table? If you check for example the Their Greatest Hits 1971-75 line, those figures mean it sold 37,450,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 281,000 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 the Desperado album are responsible for 21% of the Their Greatest Hits 1971-75 track list attractiveness. This means it generated 7,902,000 of its 37,450,000 album sales and so forth for the other records.

This compilation is the biggest anomaly ever of the music industry. Their Greatest Hits 1971-75 is the best selling compilation album of all-time… and it misses the signature song of its artist. The success of Hotel California, which happened some months after the release of the best of, boosted it incredibly well. Casual buyers that bought the two records had the perfect companion to each other. The Volume 2 issued in 1982 included Hotel California and sold a stunning 14,4 million, which is insane considering 85% of its appeal come from tracks of the 1976 album which was itself a major seller.

To sell a large number of one compilation it is needed to let it be the main set of a catalog for many years. The Eagles contradict what’s natural for others. The five career-spanning compilations released from 1985 to 2003 sold a massive 16 million units. This is all the more insane since four of them weren’t released in North America. This explains why 46 million out of the 52 million copies sold by Their Greatest Hits Vol 1 and 2 come from North America as elsewhere they were quickly replaced. The final total is unbelievable: the band’s main greatest hits albums sold 68 million units.

In terms of distribution patterns we notice that all compilations released after 1976 have more than half of their sales powered by Hotel California‘s songs. The debut album Eagles is a distant second. Distant among post-1976 compilations, but the main driving force of Their Greatest Hits 1971-75, which isn’t a small thing to point out since we are speaking of a 37 million seller. In fact, Eagles is responsible for an out of this World 15 million of its sales.

42 thoughts on “CSPC: Eagles Popularity Analysis”

  1. Not an act I was thinking would be up next but a nice one to see. I’ve never really liked their music, just doesn’t get me but I’ve always been very impressed with their popularity and sales, especially in the US
    and with so few studio releases, although as seen, their compilation releases play a very big part.

    Wasn’t thinking they’d crack the Top 10, obviously they wont stay there once acts like Elvis & Elton are done but they wont be very far away.

    “At 171 million equivalent album sales, the Eagles are the most successful act ever with 8 studio albums or less.”. Should that not be 7, as Led Zeppelin have 8 and have 200.5 million, as of their last update.

  2. I spent years listening to the Eagles…………one of my favorites………..I bet if you add in Don Henley solo career (he was involved in EVERY Eagles record), He’d be flirting with Celine Dion for that 190 million mark. (11.5 million in U.S. alone)

    Can’t wait to see if Rod Stewarts HUUUGEEE catalogue and international appeal can beat it.
    (I was thinking somewhere around 160 million for Rod)

    I agree with above poster………..Elton and Elvis are gonna crush it

    1. I’m not sure about Rod. I’d love him to be up there and I’m sure he will be but just not right up there. His studios are not great sellers or lasters and his GH’s aint The Eagles, Queen or ABBA.

          1. Just for the fun we can try to predict-guess CSPC numbers for some artists…..:-)

            Elton John 22o
            AC/DC 180
            CCR 100
            Frank Sinatra 100
            Phil Collins 140
            Rod Stewart 120
            Elvis Presley 300
            Aerosmith 120
            Barbra Streisand 160
            Dire Straits 100
            Prince 100


          2. Frank sold over 100 million album, plus contritions from singles…must be more.
            Barbra sold over 150 m albums, 30 m singles US alone, may be 170 m?!
            Elvis’s coms and singles may put the total higher than 330m

  3. 70+ million! VOW! I knew Hotel California was big, but not this BIG!
    Surprising since the gigantic GH71-75 is not included in that 70 mio figure. But GH2, latter compilations and Hell Freezes Over is very much fueled by the HC album, and especially that one song. 51.84m EAS – holy crap!!!

  4. The band of America, with The Rolling Stone. Eagles’s coms’s sales in US is incredible. Not new studio album during 80s 90s even before middle of 00s, isnt new com including major singles of older will effect tue olders’ sales? It’s an unbelievble phon… as Elvis, they’s coms sold more than studios

  5. I’ve always considered them to be the most overrated band of all time…
    1 HUGE hit from 40 years ago… and i couldn’t find another song that i liked. I really tried.
    In any case, impressive numbers! Now i’m curious if Aerosmith will steal the title of “the best selling American band”.

    1. I’ve never thought of them as being overrated, as they have never received the same kind of press and critical acclaim as the The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Stones etc and none of their albums are ever thought of as truly classic and certainly never perform well in “all time lists”. In fact, if anything, I’d say they are underrated, as given their huge sales, they are just not praised or written about in the same reverential way as a lot of other acts, with far less sales.

      I can’t see Aerosmith topping their numbers.

    1. Hi Grendizer!

      The easiest way is to estimate sales in the US / UK / France / Italy during the “visible” (on charts) periods in Japan and look at the percentage they each represent to their to date tally on those countries. Then we cross-check YouTube views to see if the same songs are still remembered in Japan and apply the needed factors. Of course it is needed to adjust depending on local compilations that could cannibilize sales earlier / later than in other countries. In the case of HC, it sold roughly 40% of its to date tally during its promotional campaign.

  6. Their US albums sales are just mindblowing. Are they the best selling album acts ever there?

    And wow at Hotel California topping Billie Jean!

        1. Omg, are you Barbra hater? Barbra sold at least physical 95 million albums and 30 million singles, and her still produce no1 record now, she may be the biggest selling female in us forever. It’s interesting to read Barbra’s Popularity Analysis. I also want to know the record sales figure MJD will give

    1. Hi IE!

      Their success in the US is indeed unreal and using pro-rata to the catalog surely only the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Garth Brooks can challenge them. In overall units though the Beatles and Elvis are much ahead.

      1. MJD how big are the rolling stones in the usa? How many albums have they sold there? And what about Led zeppelin? I read in a forum that the stones sold 76 million albums while led zeppelin sold 105 million. Are these sales accurate?.

        Thank so much in advance you always do an amazing job with your analysis and make it really interesting to read( sorry for my english :$)

  7. Really impressive numbers! I’m wondering whether they sold more albums (and overall) than Creedence Clearwater Revival ? And, thanks again for the great work MJD!

    1. Eagles have a very american classic rock n’ roll sound, in my opinion is most successful type of music in US, fans of this type of music in the US are usually very loyal. Aerosmith, Van Halen and Journey are anothers bands that have a very American Rock n’ roll sound and they sold GAZILLIONS of records in US.
      Btw, I realized that the US is a country that follows trends, Michael Jackson and Madonna went out of style very fast, while in the rest of the world they continued to sell VERY well.

  8. I’ve heard Garth Brooks got a lot of his awards for shipments in the U.S., not for sales.
    Curious to see what his actual sales are…………instead of all the unsold albums that went in the discount rack like a dented can of beans (to quote Billy Joel “The Entertainer” loosely)

  9. As a side note: Song ‘Hotel California’ is based on/or stolen from a Jethro Tull song ‘We Used To Know’.

    Ian Anderson a frontman of Jethro Tull said once in interview: The Eagles used to be the opening act for Jethro Tull back in around 1970, when we used to play ‘We Used To Know’. And a year or so later they came out with Hotel California. I noticed the fact that they were very similar. So, if the Eagles decide to give me the royalties from Hotel California, I want you to know I’m going to take you all out to dinner!(laughing).

    We Used To Know-Jethro Tull


  10. Pictures of the two Eagles album sleeves are disappeared. On The Border (1974) and One Of These Nights (1975). Or at least I can’t see them. 🙂

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