Understanding: Japanese Album Sales

Conclusions

CONCLUSIONs

In the very first message of this blog nearly six months ago, I explained below definition:

Understanding Music industry consists in three main steps:

  1. Collecting raw data
  2. Interpreting technically collected values
  3. Understanding social meaning of information

Thanks to this article, you must now be able to perform the action 2. as far as Japanese market is concerned. Raw data is essential to complete steps 2 and 3, but it does not tell the truth by itself.

Mariah Carey is well known for being the biggest selling foreign artist in Japan as she has more Oricon sales than any other artist. Guess what? Anyone educated enough about Japanese sales information to interpret it correctly will tell you this claim is wrong as the Beatles obviously outsold her. This just goes on showing how important it is to add analysis to raw data.

The point of this article is not to inflate sales of foreign albums yet. Not all sold in the millions – far from that.

If you ever aim to know how much your favorite artist sold in Japan, after collecting the data from links I posted, you should ask yourself following questions to understand those figures:

  • How many weeks the album has been floating just under charts?
  • How many years of relevant catalog sales has it managed – e.g. when was the next hits package released – ?
  • Was it released before or after imports got added to charts?
  • Have some formats been excluding from its total?
  • Have there been several different versions of the album available?
  • Have later and weaker albums sold well or not?
  • Does it have a strong digital appeal?

If that sounds complicated to you, well, just ask me! I may be posting articles similar to France Album Sales series for Japan in the future so I’ll let all of you request which artists you want to see studied!

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

 

Sources: RIAJ, Oricon, UKMix, Nelson.

3.7 3 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

58 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Christian

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 11 months ago by Mariahshistory
Chika

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 11 months ago by Chika
Michael

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

Christian

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!

orange

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 »

orange

​​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?

orange

Hi MJD!
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.

robby

Hi MJD!

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!

Robby

Trish

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.

Paul

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

58
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x