Understanding: Japanese Album Sales

Record Store

B) Format issue

Japanese charts have always been very strict with each format being let alone. As a result, during the 90s three distinct album rankings were published separating LP, CT and CD sales. Below is an example of an album huge during this period, True Blue by Madonna.

Japan-Madonna-TrueBlue

There is a total of seven cells in red, when the album wasn’t charted in one of the three rankings. Not only those cells represent uncovered sales, this case also highlights the fact albums just under each ranking were losing from 2,000 to 3,000 units a week.

By November 1989 as the CD was getting bigger and bigger, both former LP and CT charts stopped being published. Officially, from that point the album chart was a merged chart including all physical formats. I mention officially because it is truly unclear how the merge was done. Considering Oricon history, the company was most likely continuing to run sub-lists for each format and adding those figures to albums charted on several of them. This means if an album was charting inside the Top 100 CD and LP rankings but not inside the Top 100 CT, those sales were most likely not added. Similarly, various sales got lost before the introduction of those charts. In 1970, only LP sales were recorded with CT sales considered from 1974. In-between those two dates, all CT sales were completely ignored.

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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 1 year 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 1 year 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!

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