Destroying Myths: Fake 10 million sellers

Fake t-shirt 2

When someone from the general public gets into a website regarding music charts and sales, the first thing that will strike them is how wrong every claim they’ve been reading in mainstream news is. As the general description of my blog is One step closer to being accurate, I feel the need to turn down some tenacious fanciful sales claims, which is why I’m introducing this new master series, Destroying Myths.


More often than not fake claims are attributed to major labels, which believe it or not, rarely make totally fake comments. Instead, their marketing teams naturally publish news aiming to promote their artists and, while doing so often describe the reality in a very favorable way, ideally creating confusion among uneducated readers. A song that reached #1 on a very minor Billboard chart will suddenly become a “US #1 hit”, “10 million records” in a label publication will become “10 million albums” in most press and so on. If you add to that shipment against retail sales confusion as well as strict figures against track / album equivalents, the result is a huge mess.

Still, every time a label makes an official statement about record sales, it will have to pay the related artist royalties accordingly. Thus, unlike what most people will tend to believe, they truly do not want to inflate sales figures. This is why they will try to create confusion but never drop numbers out of nowhere. The fake claim will instead come from someone who’s legally responsible for label rights, such as the artist themselves or their management team. This being said, the biggest source of fake claims is still the poor interpretation by Media and readers that go on publishing bad quality second hand news.

There are many, many fake claims that came out over the years. Today I’ll be focusing on one of the most fiercely defended by die hard fans, the fake 10 million selling albums. An extensive list of major artists to have 7-9 million selling albums that are constantly reported as a 10-million album. In fact, it sounds so much better! Wishful thinking is often the enemy of fans and the reality much more unpleasant. At least as I’ll be posting a whole bunch of inflated albums, I hope you won’t believe I’m hating 🙂

Time to return some accuracy proceedings, let’s go!

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Hello MJD!
Can you post the detail per country for all these albums? I think it could help some fans to understand that what they believe for their favourite star is wrong.


Hello MJD, you did a really good job with post! However Im not sure about something, you said that Mediatraffic inflated Britney’s first two albums on their all time list, I dont really know about that however I think the difference in numbers is because you estimated the Brazilian sales for Baby One More Time and Oops i Did It Again to be only 200k, when they sold more than 1 million and 850k respectively according to her label Jive Records (from Billboard Magazine, 2001) Here’s the link: It may not seem like much, but thats additional 800k sales… Read more »


Hello again, thanks for replying! To be fair, brazil is really bad to certify stuff…..Britney (and most other artists) have undercertified records that we know shipped gold or platinum thanks to shipment codes but are not even certified at all for example: Greatest Hits My Prerogative: AA50000 AB15000 AC1000 … AF1000 AG1000 AH3000 AI500 AJ500 … AM1000 Total: 72,000+ gold at the time of release: 50,000 certification: none Circus: AA30000 AB15000 AC10000 AD? AE5000 Circus (Deluxe Edition) with DVD AA5000 AB? AC500 Total: 65,000+ platinum at the time of release: 60,000 certification: none, not even gold The Singles Collection: AA50000… Read more »


Some of these claims are ridiculous indeed! Seeing albums at 9.5-ish million being passed as 10 million sellers is one thing, but seeing albums like Parallel Lines (8.7 million) being claimed at 20 million (not even 10 million) is just insane! I have a question for you. Do you know if the following albums (claimed as 10 million sellers, either by stans or press) have crossed the 10 million mark? If not, what are the real sales? Christina Aguilera – Stripped Britney Spears – Britney Britney Spears – Greatest Hits: My Prerogative Mariah Carey – Butterfly Thanks for another great… Read more »


7 million for Greatest Hits: My Prerogative by Britney fans is inflated and no amount of fake overshipped certifications in Asian markets or non-existent, made up claimed sales will change that.


MJD estimated the sales of “My Prerogative” at 6.8M which is basically 7M.
Looks like you were wrong! 🙁


first off certifications are based on shipments not actual sales the diamond award is for 10 million shipments in the US alone so Mariah has 2 Music Box and Daydream her sales were huge in Japan Butterfly sold 1.000.000 but her biggest sales in Japan was #1’s which sold 3.5 million


I know certifications were based on shipments. I was just pointing out that since Butterfly sold so low on Soundscan, and that it sold less than 300,000 in BMG clubs, perhaps its absolute maximum shipments can’t be that much over 5m copies. By the way, Butterfly sold 1,1m according to Oricon, but was certified 8XP for 1,6m. #1’s sold over 2,8m on Oricon, but was certified 18XP for 3,6m. However, the album was reported to have shipped 3,6m in early 1999. Although catalog sales are weak in Japan, i don’t expect the album to have shipped close to nothing just… Read more »


Wow! Mariah Carey is really unlucky, having so many albums close to the 10m mark. Anyway, thanks MJD for clearing up these myths.

Regarding Mariah, can you tell me whether Butterfly has passed the 10m mark as well? Wikipedia states it at 15m (obviously inflated), but has it really shipped 10m copies? The album barely sold 4m on Soundscan yet was certified 5XP in the US. Also, the album sold slightly over 1m copies in Europe. Where did the remaining 4m copies come from? Was it really THAT big in Asia?


Thanks MJD for clarifying. Although, i think you made a typo. It’s Butterfly that you were talking about, not Rainbow I assume?


Great work, again, you should wrote the story of “sales inflation” by artists. It’s really something that went crazy after the success of Thriller when suddenly a gold or platinum LP seemed to small and even insulting. I have one objection concerning Barbra. First I didn’t know A star is Born Soundtrack was rumored selling over 10 millions. For a long time it was a 4xPlatinum LP in the US. two things is to take into consideration. This LP is the first worldwide success for Barbra Streisand and in 1992 when she had all her certifications published it went like… Read more »


Don’t you think her “greatest hits2” out sold “A Star is Born”?
I also didn’t know Blondie was that big…


Ok … Is it over or are there more to come ? On wiki, Oxygen and Equinoxe by J M Jarre are well over 10 millions.

By the way, there is at least one illustration concerning a singer suing her label and manager for unpaid records royalties resulting from inflated sales. In France, in the nineties, Sheila turned to the tribunal to get paid for her 70 millions records sales. That figure was given by her label since 1980 … They went to court for that and her label, had to prove she sold about 20 millions.


ok sis let’s talk about sales that are too low. all of katy’s albums!!!!! she’s easily sold over 30 million albums WW


taylor swift should definitely be on the list tbh!!! her sales seem very fake.


You seem pressed Katy Perry fan. If her sales are fake then explain her streams and touring ticket sales????


lol expose ha! katy perry definitely has the most REAL 10+ million sellers. Roar, Dark Horse, I Kissed A Girl, Firework and California Gurls. What an icon and LEGEND. Poor ATRL gays (especially the monsters and swifties)


It seems crazy when some figures are criminally inflated but not so much when, according to your estimation, is around 9.4/9.5 million. A 10 million claim sounds not so out of question.

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