CSPC: Backstreet Boys Popularity Analysis

Me encargaron cosas de Backstreet Boys!!!!!

At one point, Backstreet Boys defined success: massive albums sales across the globe, great singles sales, plenty of chart topping releases, hugely hyped tours and tremendous media coverage.

It is true that they benefited from extraordinarily good market conditions in all markets. After all, the all-time record year for the music business, as far as revenues in billion dollars are concerned, was actually 1999. That is, back when this five men group was at its peak. 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001 also rank amongst some of the very best years.

Yet the way many music consumers – especially teenagers and young women’s – embraced their output deserves its own chapter. If Jonas Brothers and more recently One Direction reached a great level of popularity during the past decade, the type of success achieved by Backstreet Boys is in a completely different level  as they really dominated the business for a few years all over the world, including in some countries that were traditionally hard to penetrate for Western artists.

We will try to analyze the extent of that hegemony with this new article with final results which will more than surprise many readers. Back then, they were sharing the same label and marketing plans as Britney Spears and N’ Sync. The latter group leader Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears herself surely remained under the spotlight longer than the Backstreet Boys, who has the most valuable career to date though? Thanks to the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept, we will be able to set a viable conclusion.

As a reminder for users who are not yet familiar with the CSPC idea 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 Backstreet Boys album sold. Then, we will check sales of each track from those albums on each format – physical, download 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 this now classic group’s career results.

Let’s go!

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Hi MJD! I was looking back at this analysis and I have thought up some questions regarding the Backstreet Boys’ album sales, mainly concerning that in Europe. Their distribution of sales in Europe was quite weird. They were absolutely massive in Spain and Germany, but were relatively weak in the UK, France and Netherlands. Could you explain this phenomenon? Was teen pop more successful in certain European countries than others? Britney Spears and the Spice Girls had a more linear album sales distribution across Europe though. Another country where their sales confused me is Japan. Their first 2 albums sold… Read more »


I never knew they were THAT huge, 80 million albums is just incredible. They’re outsold Janet and Britney. I never knew.


They did not outsold Britney. They were trailing a few million copies. However their first four album (Including the BSB greatest hits which were their first release in the US) sold Britney’s first few albums by almost 10 million. Which is very impressive. I wasn’t surprised by Janet though. At best, she’s a huge regional player and globally she never was really that big of deal.


I may be mistaken but I don’t think you’ve mentioned The Essential BSB (which charted in South Korea) and the collaboration album with the New Kids On The Block. The latter charted in Australia, the US, Canada and probably elsewhere too. It contains 5 BSB hits and 3 new songs recorded with TNKOTB. Only one song out of those last 3 is available on streaming platforms. It didn’t do much in the charts but it still counts ! 🙂 By the way, I think their carreer trajectory is very similar to that of TNKOTB who were hugely successful from 1986… Read more »


My mistake MJD,

Her debut actually did have more weeks at number one than one week but her next two did not.


Hi Cbvnm! Weeks at #1 depend too much on the competition. You must look at Top 3/5/10 weeks. BOMT managed 50 consecutive weeks inside the Top 10 (47 at #7 or better) in spite of a huge debut. Then Oops had 17 consecutive weeks Top 3 sticking long at #2 due to heavy Eminem / Nelly albums. Britney sold bucket loads within’ 7 weeks due to the late release and Top 5 placing during the crucial Holiday season. It’s not the same at all as, say, Femme Fatale which debuted at #1 thanks to low April competition and then dropped… Read more »


Wow. Britney’s peak was monstrous. BOMT and OIDIA managed more weeks inside top 10 than the whole discography of Beyonce, for example, and at the most competitive era of all-time. And she was so young…

Are you goint to analyze Spice Girls soon? I wanna know if her peak was so succesful as the Backstreet Boys´s peak.


Thanks for that info MJD.

One would think that weeks inside the top 10 or top 3 are a more tangible testament of popularity than sales being large during a given period, unlike the poster you went back forth with suggested.


It was difficult for me, but… You are right.
Do you know where I can see albuI chart of albums? Billboard page is very slow and complicated.
I know tha may be impossible but can you make, in a future, a methology to adjust albums of differents context of sales ? I think that billboard made one. What is your opinion about that methology? Thanks.


Definitely One Direction is bigger than Backstreet Boys. 25 million albums in this decade are more impressive than 75 million in the end of 90s.


Hi Tomas,

One Direction have been obviously incredibly popular, on which argument can you safely claim they got bigger than the Backstreet Boys though? Millennium had 26 weeks inside the US Top 3 Album Chart at the most competitive era of all-time, that’s more than One Direction full discography combined.


Ricky Martin and Britney Spears also had a lot of weeks inside top 3 that year. And Santana. It’s nothing special. Sales were huge then. I wish you could adjust those sales to be able to compare them with One direction´s sales. Thank you for your kindness and job. And sorry for my english.


Millennium was the #1 album of the year – 26 weeks Top 3 is definitely an awful lot. Britney Spears only had 1 week Top 3 and both Santana & Ricky Martin had much less weeks there than Millennium in spite of their own success being already special. This is even more impressive considering that BSB album debuted with a gigantic number, selling bucket loads in a few weeks only. Saying sales were huge then is ok, but arguying selling an average of 315,000 copies of an album per week during 30 weeks is nothing special is delusional. I don’t… Read more »


Ok. I admit that Backstreet Boys were bigger in album sales, but One Direction are bigger in tours and singles, and they had more longevity (Backstreet Boys were eclipsed very quickly by nsync and destiny’s child).

I now you havent hate against One Direction. Thank you for answer me.


Sadly I still can’t agree 😉

Both bands had 6 Top 10 singles, those of the BSB lasting much longer as 1D mostly benefitted from big selling debut weeks. In Tours, their 1999 shows ranked second to Bruce Springsteen in Pollstar annual biggest tours list. They also smashed from 1996 to 2001, the same time frame as 1D. The DC & N’ Sync never reached their level of success. Their supposed flop album Black & Blue sold on par with Destiny’s Survivor, which was a huge smash for them, which perfectly reveal they weren’t on the same league.


Interesting discussing MJD

But wouldn’t Spears’s first three albums each spending only one week at number one make the sales for those three albums more impressive than some might give them credit for?


MJD I guess both were equally big in album sales ,24m in 2010s isn’t less than 75m in late 90s/early 2000s ,there was no yt, no streaming service, no way of illegally download, internet wasn’t that big ,.also albums weren’t that front looded and US isn’t only country in the world I bet 1D has a lot better chart runs in European markets than black street boys ,OK . Also 1d were huge touring force , 2013: 123m 2014: 290m 2015: 210m BSB can’t compete with them in touring , I am not saying 1d are bigger than BSB let’s… Read more »


Hi Yes! One Direction’s albums sold on par with standard top sellers of their years. They haven’t reach the impact of the likes Adele, Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith etc. On their side, the BSB were the very top sellers of their era. Millennium outsold the contemporary albums by Dida, Aguilera, Eminem, Dixie Chicks, TLC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, N Sync or Creed by 10-15 million. That’s where the difference between 1D and the BSB is, the first group was one of the top sellers, the second a blockbuster. 1D faced better the test of time (although… Read more »


Britney, Eminem, Santana, Celine Dion were as big as backstreet boys and 1 (beatles) and Supernatural sold far more than millenium. One direction did not have so many competitors of theirs same level or higher. And they sold 45 million equivalent albums since 2012. And I think that 45 million equivalente albums since 2012 is much more impressive than 94 million equivalents albums during the peak of albums sales.


Hi Duddy, You are wrong there. Millennium outsold both Supernatural and One during their respective promotion campaigns, they catched it (and topped it for One) only thanks to catalog sales. In the same way, they outdid Britney and Eminem too, both topped them in the long run, but focusing on their first 5 years, none of them crack the BSB. Celine is the only one that was ahead, and the margin wasn’t even that big while Adele to name only her outperformed massively 1D. So did the others I quoted like Ed Sheeran, Amy or Gaga. I’m really the first… Read more »


–I’m really the first one to give credit to 1D even in a perspective covering the last 50 years, but the BSB were bigger than them. You can argue about the market drop, but CSPC figures add downloads and streams to compensate, enough to make albums from Bruno Mars or so comparable with big 90s albums, still 1D are nowhere near BSB.— Thank you very much for answering. It’s very interesting what you said. So the industry has not had any crises? Dowlands and streams have made up the decline of albums sales? I find it hard to believe… Chrstina… Read more »


Hi again Duddy! Obviously, the market evolved, but not on those proportions. First, CSPC method make up for most of the drop. Second, even factoring in the market overall drop, they are still way too far. 1D had 5 albums, they sold less than 24 million units combined in pure album sales, 43 million CSPC. The first 3 and a half (as 2 came out as 1 in the US) BSB albums sold 68 million pure albums and 87 million CSPC. Twice as much as 1D with only two thirds of 1D’s albums. Millennium alone sold the same in pure… Read more »


Young kids these days doesnt know how big Backstreet Boys were back then. Backstreet Boys was the biggest thing ever back then. Their first 3 studio albums alone sold more than 50 million copies worldwide(Backstreet Back and Backstreet Boys are literally the same album with different marketing name in different area). That is already something very extremely impressive. Their songs are much bigger than one direction anyway. Plus, selling more on tours is a good way to gauge somebody’s popularity. You need to consider inflation, how much shows were they covering for every tours, etc. I remember Britney Spears in… Read more »


Hernan, you did a great job. Congratulations. I have a question: which album sold more, millenium or baby one more time? Millennium (1999) America US 14,000,000 Canada 1,500,000 Argentina 200,000 Brazil 700,000 Mexico750,000 Asia Japan 1,200,000 Oceania Australia 260,000 New Zealand  50,000 Europe 3,410,000 UK  560,000 France 110,000 Germany 850,000 Italy 340,000 Spain 425,000 Sweden135,000 Netherland 100,000 Switzerland100,000 Austria 65,000 Finland 43,000 World  23,800,000 14,000,000+1,500,000 +200,000+700,000 +750,000+1,200,000 +260,000+50,000 +3,410,000 =22,070,000 Baby One More Time (1999) AmericaUS 14,200,000 Canada 1,400,000 Argentina 140,000 Brazil 300,000 Mexico 425,000 Asia Japan 500,000 Oceania Australia  320,000 New Zealand 50,000 Europe  4,740,000 UK  1,275,000 France 675,000 Germany 850,000 Italy 200,000 Spain 350,000 Sweden 100,000 Netherland 225,000 Switzerland 125,000 Austria  55,000 Finland  38,000 World  23,500,000 14,200,000+1,400,000 +140,000+300,000 +425,000+500,000 +320,000+50,000 +4,740,000… Read more »


Hi Cameron!

Millennium is undoubtedly the biggest seller on markets not listed – rest of Latin America and continental Asia – thus it is quite natural that its Worldwide estimate is higher too with listed countries accounting for the same total!


Are you sure now?You counted BOMT again now.BOMT was so huge in Southeast Asia.


Hi MJD! Great job on this article (as always). I’m actually a little surprised by their album sales, because even though they’re still massive, I always thought they were around 80-85 million. Nice to see Millennium nearing the 30 million mark in terms of CSPC. Hopefully it will get there one day. I have a question involving one of their peers, who has sold more albums (studio + compilation). Britney Spears or the Backstreet Boys? Because I only counted 73 million for the Backstreet Boys, and you estimated nearly 77 million for Britney. I always thought the Backstreet Boys had… Read more »


Hi Bri!

I think you missed something on BSB count as they are up to 80 million albums sold overall! The gap was much bigger about a decade ago but is diminishing ever since, although at low pace now.


Hi MJD and Hernán! Great job on this analysis on BSB!

When i calculated the album sales breakdown for their first 3 albums, the remaining countries not listed add up to 1,5-2 million albums.

Are they really that huge in Southeast Asia and Africa? If so, can you please evaluate their biggest markets there and provide some numbers for us?

Please and thank you! Keep up the good work! By the way, is the Whitney CSPC analysis coming up? If so, looking forward for it!


Hello Raffi! Actually, a lot of certifications came out for them back in the day. By mid-98, their first two albums were certified as listed below: Backstreet Boys Philippines Platinum x7 280,000 Taiwan Platinum x5 250,000 Malaysia Platinum x5 125,000 Hong Kong Platinum x3 60,000 Indonesia Platinum x3 150,000 Singapore Platinum x3 45,000 Thailand Platinum 50,000 India Platinum 20,000 Korea Gold 50,000 Chile Platinum x5 100,000 Venezuela Platinum 20,000 Colombia Gold 25,000 Backstreet’s Back Philippines Platinum x8 320,000 Malaysia Platinum x6 150,000 Indonesia Platinum x4 200,000 Hong Kong Platinum x4 80,000 Taiwan Platinum x4 200,000 India Platinum x4 80,000 Singapore… Read more »


if this is real, then I don’t think BOMT only sold 130k copies in Taiwan because according to IFPI Taiwan their chart appearence’ between BOMT and M’s difference was not huge.I think the Sony 2011 figure for BS maybe did’t use the 2008 crita for every country.Some country used but some countries weren’t


Well SHJ, these cases are precisely the ones that we can’t value with charts. Britney / BSB were outdoing remaining international artists by massive margins at the time, #1 or #3 may look like about the same, but the gap sales-wise could have been 10 or 20 to 1 in some weeks. There is really no doubt they used the 2008 criteria, there is too much data confirming it! Plus, it is also consistent with their global numbers provided. Really 130k in Taiwan is an utterly massive number, there is no “only” there!


Wasn’t 1xP=40.000 for foreign artists until 2007?


in Thailand


They were but that level was already a ‘new’ one, at some point in early 00s it changed from 50k to 40k! There are various references on Billboard of Gold/Platinum albums in Thailand for 25/50k shipped from the 90s.


BTW, do you know how many sales did 1xP equal to in Saudi Arabia?Spice is 2xP there by Nov. 1997


There have never been an official award in Saudi Arabia, when it was created that was in 2008 and it encapsulated various gulf countries named GCC with 3k/6k levels. Thus it was up to labels to use whatever criteria they wanted on their in-house receipts!


Backstreet Boys’ first album is 6xPlatinum in Taiwan, yes 300k.


For their sale figures in Thailand, I found that as in 2006, they’ve sold around 594,000 copies. The information I got was from the promotional website for their first concert here in Thailand 13 years ago (http://www.thaiticketmajor.com/concert/backstreetboys06.php). And that only includes 4 studio albums during their peak & greatest hits.

I don’t know how other international acts perform in my country, but over half a million sales from BSB is massively huge for foreign acts, that numbers could even surpassed some popular local acts in my country too, I’m not sure.


Backstreet Boys was really2 huge in South East Asia. I can only speak from where I came from which is Malaysia. And here even the local artist would struggle to sell 25,000 (Platinum certification). For a foreign artist to have all 3 of their first albums selling above 100,000 copies and having 4 times platinum or more, is ridiculously huge. Their numbers in Philippines and Indonesia are really strong too, though not as impressive as Britney Spears. I also am pretty surprised that other than their album “Millennium”, none of their albums was really that big in North East Asia.… Read more »


I love the backstreet boys