CSPC: The Beatles Popularity Analysis

The Beatles Digital Art by David Alexander Elder

Digital Singles Sales

From 2004 to 2007 the digital singles market was booming. From 2008 it was already mega huge, seriously challenging album sales as the main avenue consumers were selecting. During all those years, the Beatles were notably known for being part of digital world holdouts.

After years of negotiation on royalties amounts plus the inevitable need of putting their music available in iTunes & Cie due to the always larger number of people deciding to go by digital music only, their catalog ultimately appeared on downloads software in November 2010. Their first week sales of 2 million digital tracks – plus 450,000 albums, counting each album part of boxes independently – was widely marketed. What happened after was way less visible.

It doesn’t mean their sales were disappointing yet. They were surely not as-stellar-as one could have expect from the fab four. In the US, after shifting some 3 million singles by the end of 2010, their first full year of availability saw 4,7 million purchases. With the initial hype being over and the market falling from 2013, their 2012-2016 US sales dropped year by year at 3,5 million, 3,3 million, 2,9 million, 2,5 million and 1,9 million units. This still translates into a healthy 22 million units to date.

Elsewhere, sales have been solid too, although not as high as their US showing. The band recently crossed 2 million digital single sales in the UK and 1 million in South Korea with a worldwide total now up to 35 million.

Let’s break down those sales era by era over the next pages, going through every big hit.

As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 1,5 ratio between one album and one digital single.

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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!

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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