Official Global Top Sellers of 2004 – with Sales

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#1 Usher Confessions 12,000,000

If you think about 2004, you think about Usher. The R&B star topped the Billboard Hot 100 more often than not with 28 leading frames inside the calendar year, a total which broke a record that had stood for 64 years. The album also led the chart for an extensive period of 9 weeks over 3 spells.

Confessions was certified 8xPlatinum in December of 2004. The most amazing part is that, just like Norah Jones, it wasn’t an album heavily fueled by Christmas shipments. In fact, it closed the year on 7,978,594 sales to consumers in the US, perfectly in line with the number of shipments certified.

While this insane US number made it look like a local success, its 4 million sales abroad would have put it at #13 for the year worldwide if we discount the US sales. The album sold nearly 1,1 million units in the UK for the year while also hitting 3xPlatinum in Australia. It remained the highest selling album in the US from its release onwards until Adele‘s 21 which was issued 7 years later.

14 thoughts on “Official Global Top Sellers of 2004 – with Sales”

  1. And about Beyoncé’s Dangerously In Love? I expected it appears in 2004’s YTD due the release in the mid of 2003. How much it scan in these two calendar years?

  2. I am surprised to see that Beyoncé’s Dangerously In Love did not make the list given that it still carried success into 2004.

    1. Dangerously in Love by 2004 was already doing poorly on the charts all over the world. I wasn’t surprised in didn’t make it inside the top 50.

      1. On the contrary, if the IFPI recorded sales sold to consumers rather than shipments during the year, DIL would be comfortably in the Top 50, as the album sold 1,4m in the US (based on Soundscan) and had a decent chart run in both the UK and Australia to allow it to reach 2m copies sold to consumers for the year. After all, singles Naughty Girl and Me, Myself and I were Top 5 smashes in the States and did decently abroad.

        However, as MJD pointed out, this list is based on the IFPI’s ranking, which counts shipments (copies sold to retailers). There are 2 main reasons why DIL didn’t end up on the 04 YEC:

        1. Heavy Shipments during 03
        Although released in mid 03 and had decent success in 04, the majority of copies sold in 04 were from copies shipped during the previous year. An evidence of that is the 3XP cert it received in Feb 04, although it only closed 03 with 2,5m sold, proving that 3m or slightly more were already shipped in 03. The same case for other countries, especially Asia, where the album sold over 600K between Japan and SK, as not only sales are always front loaded there, which can be seen with Japan and SK, but also that after the mid 00s, the Asian market collapsed a lot, letting little room for catalog sales. I assume 75% or more of its current sales in Asia were shipped during 03.

        2. Continuous off-the-radar catalog sales later on
        By the end of 04, the album sold 3,9m in the US based on Soundscan. It was certified 4XP in mid 04, meaning it took until early 05 to sell the copies shipped by that date. However, after those 4m copies were sold to consumers, the album’s promotional campaign was over, and not many copies were sitting on shelves afterwards, meaning that copies sold afterwards were not included from the previous shipments. By now, DIL sold slightly over 5m copies in the US (based on SS), meaning around a healthy 1m copies were additionally shipped from 05-now. This can be attributed to the fact that the main attraction of the album, Crazy in Love, is a monster catalog song as can be seen from downloads and streaming, allowing the album to sell small but steady amounts later on, which is additionally fueled with Beyonce’s latter success. I assume this is true for most other countries, hopefully MJD can elaborate on that more with figures.

        In conclusion, I assume DIL wound rank just outside the Top 50 of 04 YEC with close to 2m copies shipped. According to the IFPI, DIL was #5 on 03 YEC, and I remember MJD saying that only 5 albums sold upwards of 5m that year from a Britney article regarding ITZ. Again, hopefully MJD can elaborate more on that with figures, but that’s my take on that.

  3. Thank you for posting, MJD! This was a very interesting read. I’m quite shocked Utada’s “Single Collection” sold that much. According to Oricon, it sold 2,586,347 physical copies in 2004. Was she really that global?

    1. Hi Stephen!

      Well not “global” but at least in various Asian markets she sold quite well. We tend to believe she was a Japanese seller only because she failed to break South Korea for which we know some data, but First Love for example sold half a million units in Taiwan and half a million more elsewhere in Asia!

  4. Hi MJD!

    Nice work on this article. I just have one question regarding the top seller of the year, Usher’s Confessions.

    You said that the album wasn’t heavily fueled by Xmas shipments, and that it shipped 8m in the US and 4m abroad. However, the album was reissued in late 04 and the single with Alicia Keys, My Boo was a big hit in late 04/early 05. The reissue helped Confessions jump from the bottom Top 20 to #2 in the US and was Top 10 for most of Nov/Dec 04, so I was wondering perhaps there would be additional 04 shipments during Xmas due to the reissue? After all, the album did end up at #11 of Billboard’s YEC of 05, showing that a lot of copies were shipped during Dec 04 and sold during 05, which would be counted towards 04. What do you think?

    1. Hi Raffi!

      Clearly, Confessions had copies remaining on shelves by the end of 2004. It is all about proportions. First, it sold monster amounts all over the year, since even, say, one million extra copies, fuel it by less than 10%, while Christmas cash-ins may have from 15% to 25% of their shipments unsold by the end of the year. Second, while we got used to be reissues, back in 2004 this wasn’t a popular trend. The album had sold insane numbers already so retailers haven’t gone wild about that reissue, even if it ended up selling very well. Third, retailers send back copies of the previous edition when a reissue comes out, so it erased extra copies of that version, meaning only a “small” reissue was left with unsold units! The fourth element is the threshold, it was 8xP, but it shipped undoubtedly a bit more, although the criteria doesn’t let us know. I said it would have rank #13 without US sales, which puts it over 3,7m abroad, since I expect the album to have shipped 8,2/8,3 million in the US for the year!

      An external point is that Billboard Year accounts for December sales of the previous year. On Soundscan annual list, Confessions was #35 with 1,21 million sales. With 2/3 of its sales coming from the US, we understand why it missed the annual 2005 list of the IFPI!

    1. Hi Dan!

      Don’t worry, it won’t be too quiet for too long! AC/DC’s figures for albums and single sales are complete! Only a few edits and a few word typing from the team and it’ll be for all of your viewing pleasure in a matter of a few days!
      We also have a new addition to the data collector Anthony’s doing that might interest some of you!

  5. Hi MJD I’ve been fascinated by all the work you’ve done with Popularity/Chart analyses, especially this one, I just have a few Questions, I am very interested in the number #17 album by Ashlee Simpson and was pretty shocked to read she didn’t break into the European market and I’ve always wondered why, if she did so great in America why not there as well? Also will you be doing a Popularity analysis on her and maybe Jessica in the future if possible (Hilary duff is also an interesting case considering her sales almost mirror Miley’s and Justin Bieber’s except like the Simpson sisters she never broke into any markets besides America as well) and If you get your hands on sales figures for other industry Years (For Ex. The rest of the 2000s decade) will you be doing those as well, and how long would each one take to analyze?

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