CSPC: The Beatles Popularity Analysis

Now On Apple's iTunes: The Beatles! (Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA)

Controversy #4: The Splash Strategy Illusion Part 2

In 1993, after enjoying years of huge catalog sales from their studio albums, EMI regenerated Red and Blue compilations. By then, the last Top 10 compilation in the US was 1976 set Rock N’ Roll Music. If someone wanted to pick a greatest hits album, it had to go after old LPs and Cassettes which were the only items available for many years. After creating such a background, it isn’t surprising that Red and Blue CD releases got shipped at a combined 5,5 million units within’ a couple of months. The same happened with Live at the BBC in 1994, the first live album issued in CD, some 17 years after the previous similar set, Live at the Hollywood Bowl, that was not released in CD format until much later.

With One, they did it again. The 1-CD compilation was long awaited creating a terrific wave of hype upon release.

Then came the digital era. While all artists moved to the new format as it happened two decades earlier with CD releases, thus being all a non-event, EMI did it the other way for the Beatles catalog. From the start of legal downloads in 2003 to the band availability in 2010, billions of tracks got downloaded. Why waiting until 2010 then? To force the buying of full high-priced albums and to strongly boost the 2009 albums remasters, making it a major event. Had people from all over the World been cherry-picking their main hits for years, their impact would have been much lower. Once again, compilations got reissued after studio albums – Red and Blue in 2010, One in 2011 – to fully maximize sales, first selling several studio albums then publishing the cash-in material.

Digital release was a event too, scheduled in November. Obviously, it was no coincidence. If pre-Christmas days are the hottest of the year for physical sales, downloads biggest time-frame is the couple of weeks after Christmas thanks to all teens spending the iTunes gift card they received that day. Thus, by issuing the Beatles catalog in November, EMI granted them a huge promotion just in time for Christmas purchases. This decision made sure consumers bought both remastered CDs and iTunes cards as gifts, boosting sales in both avenues.

Five years later on December 24 2015, for the exact same reason, EMI sent the Beatles catalog on all Streaming platforms. As offering a subscription isn’t an habit as iTunes cards were, they waited for Christmas purchases to be completed before revealing the catalog in streaming. They did so in 2015 since the break point that saw estimated streaming revenues getting bigger than estimated sales lost due to that availability got reached, after which they joined all other artists in those services.

All those successions of demand retention and hyped offer create the illusion of insane domination due to concentrated sales with various charts records, pushing uneducated chart followers to inflate their results and sales. It looks like a similar event – CD releases, remasters, download availability, streaming availability etc. – for the Beatles always outperformed insanely the results of other acts. If we get into details of each act, we would notice this is just not true. Results are undoubtedly way more visible thanks to perfectly timed and sized marketing campaigns, but not necessarily much bigger.

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Is Beatles the best selling musical act in UK?




I hope you would update and make a record and achievement section for the Beatles


Will BTS surpass the Beatles eventually? And is it possible that a current artist at present will surpass them?


Thank you for your response!

Someone shared on Twitter that the Beatles is the second best selling artist of the century. Eminem took the first place. Can you pls confirm this fact? Thanks ahead and more power!


Dont think so. Based on this site Btitney and Coldplay should sold more based on album sales alone. And pretty sure they sold more singles too.


This was discussed like two weeks ago in the “Best selling artists of all time” comments, Britney wouldn’t even be top 10… Coldplay might be #5, and indeed the Beatles would be #2, way behind Eminem.


Jeric, that is true but it needs some clarification. In the USA point of sales are measured by Nielsen SoundCard (now called MRC Nielsen). At the end of 2009 Nielsen estimated that Feminism was the #1 Artist of the first decade of the New Century (32m Album units sold) with The Beatles #2 (30m). Again this constitutes US album sales only from 2000-2009, and did not factor in Digital Downloads, Streaming, Video Streams, etc. Hope this helps.


Oops … sorry @Jericho. “feminism” is supposed to be EMINEM.


@jeric (sorry)

Richard Dakin

You show the US sales for the White Album at around 12 million. It is a double album. The RIAA has its sales at 24 million plus, making allowance for the fact that it is 2 records that were purchased. Ditto for the red and blue albums. The Anthologies were triple albums, as were the BBC albums.
Do your numbers make allowance for this?


Nope. The White Album, Physical Graffiti, The Wall etc are counted as one album, one sale, no multiplication of discs included, times sales.

One of the albums you mention, is probably the best example against multi counting. The double disc, Red Album, which has less tracks and a shorter total running time, than single disc 1.

Richard Dakin

I’m not sure I follow. If one buys and pays for an album that contains 2 records, have 2 records not been sold?
Do you allow for this by using the total number of tracks on the album?

Richard Dakin

MJD:Thank you for expaining that!
I really enjoy and appreciate the work that went into, and still goes into, your website. I look forward to updates as they appear.

tom riise

Update would be nice 🙂


the RIAA certifications on red album and blue album also include download and streaming, seen how much higher are they ?


I’ve just realized that the physical single sales of Beatles For Sale and A Hard Day’s Night are swapped.


I think this should get an update. It’s been 3 years and a lot of things have happened like the anniversary editions of Abbey Road and the White Album. (Also pls do George and Ringo’s CSPC 🙂 )


I’m positive they’ll be well above 420 mill after the update.


Beatles featuring Tony Sheridan is included in the compilation section on page 46

Mark Lupi

Amazing work, congratulations! However you’ve missed one important EP release. The Beatles fifth Ep release, Long Tall Sally, which was released in Britain in June 1964 and is another reported global million seller.


Has this already been included in the analysis? If not, I hope Chartmasters would consider verifying this one and include its sales in computing the Beatles CSPC points

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