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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I’m curious why their digital singles sales are so low compared to the likes of Queen and MJ?


I guess that one important reason is that they wait many years until put the catalogue there (2009), and 5 years later that market started to collapse, so they had few years to make sales. I mean, even Elvis have a little more digital sales, when the Beatles outstream him x2.


It’s explained on page 31 of this article.


I would love to see the sales of George Harrison. Both John Lennon and Paul Mccartney are updated while George and Ringo are missing. I assume Ringo hasn’t sold that well but George had string of succesful albums starting with All Things Must Pass. Maybe in the future when The Beatles sales are going to be updated you could also do George and Ringo, same as it was done with Neil Young, when both Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were done at the same time. I’m sure a lot of people would love to see that. Thank… Read more »

Tom Riise

An update on The Beatles would be great.

Eric Williams

BFD on amount of records sold. Theres more people in the world. All these groups/people are playing because of the BEATLES. I bought my first guitar from a guys living room. I traded my flute in for an electric guitar, at Jacks Drum Shop, after Feb. 1964 when they were on Ed Sullivan. There was no Guitar Center, or anything like that. Since the BEATLES, everyone and their brother play guitar.

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