A couple of years before the start of TV ads for records, it was a hard time to be noticed by Medias, let alone to sell albums in large quantities. In this context, touring gives you an awful lot of exposure, which is exactly what Dire Straits proved with Brothers In Arms.
The album was not even released that the related tour had already started. From April 25 1985 Dire Straits took the road to the Balkans and Israel, doing various shows until the release date of their classic album on May 13. It must be noted that the band was already incredibly successful in France with three out of their four first albums reaching the Platinum (400,000) criteria before this release, which was a strong achievement. As a consequence, nothing less than 4 shows in May and 9 in April were scheduled in this country.
While their singles were radio hits, they didn’t took fire on charts as out of the five released only Money For Nothing charted, peaking at #34. The tour truly did wonders yet. Thanks to both the anticipation from their previous releases and their hyped shows, the album opened at #1 in May monthly chart and retained it in June. The group was in France until the 25th of that month so this buzz coupled with the lack of releases in July and August enabled the record to retain the top spot for four monthly charts. During July, they were touring England, with the album returning to #1 for two weeks. From August 1st until September 20th they were in the US and registered 9 weeks at #1 as a result, despite the record struggled over two months to get into the Top 10 before that. The gigs in December in UK boosted the album to the top again in January after the Christmas rush. Then, from February to April, the album added 11 weeks at #1 to become the longest chart topper ever (34 weeks) thanks to an extensive road trip there. Obviously nowadays Medias, including social ones, are saturated with communication from our beloved artists, highly decreasing the impact of such tours except on lower countries where receiving big stars is an event. Back in the day, shows were doing wonders yet and Dire Straits was the perfect example of this fact.
During 1985, a total of 11 albums reached the Platinum level. Only one did it without being certified Gold before meaning it shot to Platinum fast enough to be there before a first audit was done by the label. This album was Brothers In Arms. By the end of the year, with the set retaining a Top 10 position all along, sales were up to a calculated 684,000 units. In 1986, rotation of singles kept the album rather hot with seven months inside the Top 20 and likely all year inside the Top 40. Sales were calculated on 253,000 units.
An instant classic rock album, Brothers In Arms just continued to sell well. In November 1988, it impressively re-entered the Top 30 during the promotion of Money For Nothing. By September 1991 and the release of On Every Street, sales were up to over 1,2 million copies in France. Once again, the band largely toured the country. They did three gigs in October 1991, twelve in April 1992, six in May and seven in September. During April/May, the many consecutive shows rocketed Brothers In Arms inside the Top 50 for one month. There is very little doubt that from 09/1991 to 12/1992 their classic was selling large amounts, likely enough to feature in a deeper Top 100 chart if that was existing at the time. The album is estimated at 1,4 million by the end of 1992.
Until the release of Sultans Of Swing compilation in late 1998 it was selling very solid amounts, adding more than 260,000 units. From 1999 to 2004, it was everything except doing bad, adding 150,000 units. Slowly suffering from the overall decrease of the market, it did 120,000 copies in 2005 to 2010 and then 80,000 copies since 2011. Allowed anew to chart since this later date, the album was ranked for 22 weeks including at least one each year. All in all, the album reached the impressive tally of 2 million copies during 2015.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 2,010,000 copies.
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Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, Platine, GFK, IFOP, L’Evènement du Jeudi, Le Parisien.