Understanding: Japanese Album Sales

F) Deep Purple

1972/04/25 Machine Head # 6 , 33 weeks, 64,000 [LP] 1972/12/10 Live In Japan # 14 , 21 weeks, 46,000 [LP] 1978/11/25 Live In Japan # 80 , 3 weeks, 4,000 [LP] 1989/02/10 Machine Head # 62 , 3 weeks, 7,000 [CD] 1989/02/10 Live In Japan # 31 , 6 weeks, 21,000 [CD] 1998/02/11 Machine Head # 72 , 1 week, 4,140 [CD] 2006/03/06 Live In Japan # 138 , 1 week, 1,640 [CD] 2006/03/06 Machine Head # 159 , 1 week, 1,404 [CD] 2008/09/29 Live In Japan # 166 , 1 week, 906 [CD] 2008/09/29 Machine Head # 146 , 1 week, 1009 [CD] 2011/08/29 Machine Head # 210 , 1 week, 458 [CD]

Cumulative sales for each Machine Head and Live In Japan are respectively 78,000 and 74,000 units.

In February 1989, all their catalog was reissued in CD format, creating following entries:

1989/02/10 Deep Purple In Rock # 93 , 2 weeks, 3,000 [CD] 1989/02/10 Machine Head # 62 , 3 weeks, 7,000 [CD] 1989/02/10 Live In Japan # 31 , 6 weeks, 21,000 [CD] 1989/02/10 Burn # 81 , 2 weeks, 4,000 [CD]

If we set up realistic estimates over a three weeks period, they sold as listed below:

Live In Japan, 13,500
Machine Head, 7,000
Burn, 6 weeks, 5,500
Deep Purple In Rock, 4,500

Their label had the good idea to certify their catalog in November 1993 – remember only post-1989 sales are eligible – creating the following Gold awards:

DEEP PURPLE = Live In Japan = G = 100,000 = November-93
DEEP PURPLE = Machine Head = G = 100,000 = November-93

Considering the pace of sales visible in 1989, one may expect Live In Japan to have been close to 200,000 units already, while both Burn and Deep Purple In Rock were close to 100,000 unitsOther albums failed the cut in 1989 but it is safe to say that Stormbringer or Fireball were at least on 50,000 copies from 1989 to 1993.

In total, Deep Purple had close to 50 entries and re-entries into Japanese Album chart, but none of them generated 100,000 sales or more. Still, all evidences suggest their back catalog alone was moving some 150,000 copies a year in early 90s. As for individual albums, if Oricon figures of both Live In Japan and Machine Head are under 80,000 it appears clear they shifted well past 1 million copies combined.

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Hi! I wanted to ask something. You said that The Beatles outsold Mariah Carey there, but, doesn’t Mariah actually have more certified sales than The Beatles in Japan? Mariah has like 14.5 – 15 million, Beatles like 4.5 or 5 Mariah has estimations for more than 20 million already. I just wanted to ask that because i don’t see Mariah’s analysis here since she has one of the (if not the) best selling foreign album there as far as we know! #1s 3.6 million in 2001 https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/78521/careys-glitter-sparkles-in-japan And this page from Billboard Japan shows some sales for some of her… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Mariahshistory

According to the website Mariah has sold about 13.3 million+ pure albums in Japan and what compilations are listed sold around 4.625 million, bringing her up to a total of at least 18 million.The Beatles have sold about 23 million albums considering everything according to their article.
Mariah’s article: https://chartmasters.org/2017/04/cspc-mariah-carey-popularity-analysis/
The Beatles article: https://chartmasters.org/2017/03/cspc-the-beatles-popularity-analysis/81/

Last edited 1 year ago by Chika

Probably The Beatles certification hasnt been updated in Japan. Plus back then the certification systems was messy.


Oh ok, got it, i was asking because there’s no site that can confirm those sales for The Beatles, but if you say so, it’s ok!

Thanks for the reply!


Hi MJD! I meant to post this as a reply to your reply to me (thank you by the way!), but I can’t seem to find the comment so I’ll ask here as this pertains to Japanese artists. My apologies for the long comment. One of the striking things about the Oricon charts is that most albums (especially local acts) seem to have extremely front-loaded sales. Even ignoring idol groups like AKB48 which use gimmicks, it seems the norm even for bands and singer-songwriter-type artists to sell 40-60% of their overall sales in their first week, and 90% or more… Read more »


​​Hi MJD! Thanks so much for this response and your explanation which was very enlightening! I appreciate the incredible attention to detail that goes into the analyses on this site. Based on your explanation it seems like the CSPC system would still be an accurate reflection of the popularity of Japanese album eras. I hadn’t considered the number of consumers who hold out to buy just the compilation album but it makes complete sense especially with CDs being more expensive in Japan. As for the matter of “collectors” buying the same songs across multiple albums, since it affects artists from… Read more »

Donald Miller

I appreciate this exchange. Japan’s a fascinating market with their own stars and superstars. But their music rarely crosses over to foreign nations. I’ve seen several documentaries about their Idol system and it reminds me of the old Hollywood studio system. I saw another on Suzuka Nakamoto. Seems like she was a rising star from the beginning. How about an article about the Idol system combined with a streaming masters on Babymetal?

For those acts not on streaming, maybe you can start a series on pure physical sales focused on vinyl and CD sales?


Thanks so much for the insight! I’m very interested to see how various Japanese acts would fare in a CSPC analysis so it’s great to see that you have such detailed information on many of them. I’m also motivated to look into what happened in the 80s to cause that shift in sales!

Christoffer Ekelund

It would be great if you did some analysis of Japanese artists/bands as some domestic acts (like B’z and Mr. Children) are huge and have sold 50-80 millions records in Japan alone.



I have always been curious as to how much Janet Jackson has really sold in Japan. Her numbers are good for an international artist but there could be more missing sales (imports, out of the charts etc). I hope you can do a breakdown for her too soon!



If I’m not mistaken, Janet’s career will be analysed soon so we will be able to know her sales in Japan (as well as several other countries). I’m quite curious about them too haha.


Amazing job! Do you know Avril Lavigne numbers for albums and singles? Thanks!

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