CSPC: ABBA Popularity Analysis


There is so many things to say about ABBA that it is hard to know where to start. Pretty much every single article about the cult Swedish band contains at least one myth about the band and its success. Even when a reunion tour is announced as it happened a few days ago, we need to get into the details before learning it refers to a virtual 3D show without the band itself.

I’ll temper all fanciful legends right from the start – no, ABBA hasn’t sold 360 million records. No, their album Arrival hasn’t sold 20 million units, nor Fernando single did 21 million. All those myths are very, very wrong. When working on their record sales, we quickly met many such claims, including from usually valid sources like Billboard. Their management team at the time was very busy promoting the group by using such claims, not hesitating in communicating huge exaggerations, misleading people with sales of illegal copies and many more marketing tricks. It surely worked well as nearly 35 years after the group disbanded the general public still views their success as bigger than it is, putting them with the likes the Beatles, Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson while they do not belong to that league.

Ironically, if people with no detailed knowledge about the music industry inflate their achievements, most chart followers deflate their success, often considering the band is only able to sell their classic 1992 compilation Gold and all the rest can be thrown away. A key element often not understood well by those specialized watchers is how much availability is an issue. They tend to believe the general public purchase voluntarily specific albums. In reality, persons from the general public don’t really care about the album, they only aim to pick one with the few tracks they are looking for.

In the case of ABBA, their label decided to go extensively by compilations, barely keeping their original studio albums available. As an example, their debut album Ring Ring was first issued in the US in 1995 only, some 22 years after its initial release. Speaking of that country, ABBA success was decent but not that big there, limiting their sales in comparison to all-time top sellers. Thus, with promotion focusing on compilations, an average global market at their time and relatively low US sales, sales of their original albums aren’t record breaking. The doesn’t mean their popularity is weak yet, it just means that popularity got translated into their compilations. It is a good day for your as our CSPC approach serves very precisely to define the real popularity of an album independently of how it got exploited initially and as a catalog item.

As a reminder for users who are not yet familiar with the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept you do not need to worry, it is quite simple as it only consists in merging every format sales an artist has been getting and attributing them to respective studio albums. We will start by focusing on raw data, setting how much each ABBA album sold. Then, we will check sales of each track from those albums on each format – physical, digital and streaming – and weight them to value those figures on a par with album sales. To complete the study, we will study sales of the all compilations, live albums and music videos they dropped. Once all the raw data is set, we will only need to apply appropriate weighting to get the overall picture of the pop band career results.

Let’s go!

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Hi dear Anthony Blanchard !!

hello Anthony , congratulations to you too that collaborate with MJD and Hernàn, Do you know which singer or group will be analyzed in the coming days ?

Anthony Blanchard

Hi everyone! Here are the 25 ABBA’s tracks that have generated the most sales: 1 1976 Dancing Queen [Arrival] – 24,300,000 2 1975 Mamma Mia [ABBA] – 14,810,000 3 1977 Take a Chance on Me [The Album] – 9,720,000 4 1974 Waterloo [Waterloo] – 9,030,000 5 1980 The Winner Takes It All [Super Trouper] – 8,190,000 6 1979 Chiquitita [Voulez-Vous] – 6,710,000 7 1975 SOS [ABBA] – 6,090,000 8 1979 Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) [Orphan] – 5,940,000 9 1979 Does Your Mother Know? [Voulez-Vous] – 5,880,000 10 1976 Knowing Me, Knowing You [Arrival] – 4,950,000 11 1980… Read more »


Awesome article again. One thing though, there’s a typo on Page 10 stating album sales to be at 453 million. :p


A impressive 85,4 million compilation records sold (if my calculation is accurate ).


Forgive my English maybe not perfect dear MJD, there are mistakes now rewrite the post Congratulations again for the website and also for CSPC analysis ABBA. I am very astonished by your great wisdom, you are an encyclopedia of music, after the famous flashy group that we have seen are Abba, which singer or group will you analyze ? Then as you did for the compilation Gold (ABBA) I would like you to analyze in detail for each country with the respective image or album cover, the three famous and important compilations of Beatles that are The Beatles 1 (One);… Read more »


Hi dear MJD !!! Congratulations again for the website is also for CSPC analysis ABBA. I am very astonished by your great wisdom, you are an encyclopedia of music, after the famous flashy group that we have seen are Abba, which singer or group will you analyze ? Then as you did for the compilation Gold (ABBA) that you analyzed in detail for each country with the respective image or album cover, could you do the same with the three famous and important compilations of Beatles that are The Beatles 1 (One); 1962-1966 (The Red Album); 1967-1970 (The Blue Album)… Read more »


This analysis does not take into account ABBA’s enormous success behind the Iron Curtain. In Hungary a country of less than 11 million people, ABBA’s albums and singles were sold like hot cakes. The country’s record company, Hungaroton, even bought the rights to press two of their albums, Voulez Vous and Super Trouper, along with many ABBA singles. I don’t have actual numbers of their sales, but I know that both of the above mentioned albums were certified “diamond” records, which means 500,000 copies sold. By the way, I don’t think it’s fair to look at ABBA as a s… Read more »


Thank you very much for this article MJD! It made my day lol as I was looking forward to seeing ABBA’s CSPC results.

I had 1 question about Arrival in Australia

– How did you come up with the 850,000 figure? Billboard mentionned “an estimated 900,000 sales” in a 1979 article. Have you got other information about this? It’s just a detail and that 50,000 units don’t make much of a difference but I was just curious about this.

Marnix ten Brinke

You have many ABBA singles and albums listed in countries as N/A. Where the albums and singles have been released.

Therefor your sales figures are way off.

No, ABBA did not sell 360 million. But something between 250 – 300 million is more realistic.


Amazing work! Thank you so! Just with 8 studio albums! They are amazings!

Please! You can made the same thing with: You Can Dance, TIC, Something to Remember, ghv2 and Celebration? Just like Gold? The sales country by country?

Thank you so much!

Erik Swede

I have som things to add in this discussion. I doubt that these figures are right for several reasons, though I admire the work you put into it. One of the reasons for this is that Abba had so many labels around the world in their active days that all data just isn´t there to be gathered anymore. Sometimes the data is lost and some labels just doesn´t exist anymore. I know for example that Abba was massive in Denmark and Norway right from the beginning and total sales of albums in only those two countries should be north of… Read more »

Marek Nowak

How do you estimate the download sales…and why is Dancing Queen more than twice the next biggest seller?

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