CSPC: Sales & Formulas Fixing Log – Updated Audio Streaming Numbers


Professionalizing Physical Singles Estimates (29/04/2017)

To explain this first cross-artists fixing campaign I’ll be giving some insights of our work at Chartmasters.org. How do estimate sales figures of all records?

The first step logically consists in estimating main markets. Certifications and charts are already known, the experience on those markets is also big so there is rarely home for doubts or relevant errors. In a second step, formulas are used to extrapolate Worldwide amounts. Then, collecting non standard raw data enables to validate each estimate, the goal is to identify figures communicated here and there to fix holes as much as possible.

Once all main markets estimates are set and formulas are up and running, the World total is available. It is never manually changed, this is just a result of all available information within’ the Excel sheet. The last step is made of challenging final results with official sales figures of the IFPI or labels reports – real ones, not claimed labels figures that aren’t legitimate in reality. When a gap is noticed between a World result and a valid known figure, we do an analysis to identify the root cause – which raw data or formula created the flaw. After identifying which estimate / formula is wrong we fix it. Then we check if this new information implies additional adjustments on other records for the concerned country. This process enables to destroy myths of massive Brazilian or Asian sales for example.

As mentioned we have enough experience and knowledge to avoid relevant errors in known markets. The % of possible error will always be rather small. The real deal is with formulas. With Hernan, we know by mind how the album market evolved in all World areas through the decades.

Physical singles sales is much more of a black box yet. We both expected the Spice Girls to easily cross the 20 million mark in that format. To be transparent, the first file of estimates resulted in 23 million units sold, while the article has them on 18 million. In fact this is the figure EMI communicated in 2000. The issue is that the main markets – US, UK, Germany and France – already had a combined tally of 16,6 million with only very well tracked figures, leaving a very small room for sales elsewhere.

I then went deep digging into various old documents and sources to identify exact singles markets figures, to understand how it was possible for the girls power group sold so few units in other countries. Results were pretty shocking – while various off the radar countries saw their album market explode during the 90s, the exact opposite happened in the Singles format that started disappearing from mid-80s in a lot of countries. It feels like the US collapse in 2000 arrived early since we stopped buying such products only 5 years later in Europe, but tons of countries had got rid of them way before the US.

Below table displays two curves. The first is the number of million singles sold per year in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands combined. The second one is the number of million singles sold per year in every other market. From 1973 to 2000, main markets remained pretty stable between 300-500 million thresholds. Sales elsewhere have been highly volatile yet and also collapsed way earlier. They dropped as low as 21 million in 1995/1996, exactly when the Spice Girls exploded. This is less than the number of singles that were being sold in France alone, where the group sold 2,6 million units. The 18 million mark was then fairly logical.

Thanks to this new information, the Excel sheet has been industrialized to extrapolate World sales on the back of main markets estimates not with a fixed ratio, but with an adjusted and precise ratio for each and every year.

The Spice Girls article was published in March 2017, after Whitney Houston and before Mariah Carey, so with old and new methods. This is why formulas gave very different results for the same single in spite of focusing on the same estimates within’ the main markets:

Artist – Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston
Record – When You Believe
Format – Physical Single
Old Value – 1,700,000
New Value – 1,320,000
Update Date –  29/04/2017

As you can guess, what is true for this single is also true for all remaining ones from this period. During the next weeks, I’ll be fully re-vamping physical singles sales with adjusted methods for all artists who sold well in this format during the 90s. Due to the low share of this format in overall CSPC totals – no artist has more than 16% of his total coming from physical singles – it will not conclude on a final adjustment of more than 2/3%. Our target is accuracy yet so we will be fixing everything and keep you updated with all new figures coming out!

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The videos that have been released in the last two decades (2010 ‘- 2020’s) cannot be compared with videos released in previous decades (2000’s, 90’s, 80’s …) because a video released in 2003 its current views do not reflect the impact it had at the time. Is there a formula to adjust that difference? I say this because in the film industry there are already several films from the decades of the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s … adjusted to the current economy, and they can compete with more recent films


I think YT numbers compensate for that already, given the higher sales of the original products in the time before YT.

Last edited 9 months ago by Clockingbell

The entire point of CSPC is to reflect how songs, albums, and artists popularity and success have evolved as they progressed through their careers and through different formats. Keyword being different formats. Weighing YouTube views differently entirely defeats this purpose, and imo is unnecessary


I understand that the success of a single is focused on the compilation of its sales in its different formats (physical sales, digital downloads, Transmission…) especially if they are singles from past decades. But I am not talking about the audios but about their videos only. VH1 and MTV were the big broadcasters and distributors of music videos. And they were a reference before the arrival of YouTube. Many videos were very successful on those channels (videos from the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s). What I want to know, is there a formula to incorporate the success of the videos broadcast… Read more »


Isn’t that the same as incorporating audio streams with airplay charts?


Exactly, and Youtube views aren’t that big a deal anyway since 1 billion views = 85k album sales (from what I understand).


by this logic that you’re using, we should do the same to pure sales and adjust the difference since smash albums like 1989 or x by ed sheeran that sold 8-10m would definitely sell 20m-30m pure if released in the 80s, 90s or early 00s


Hello, when you calculate the loss of album sales 2004-2006 in order to measure digital sales, shouldn’t the loss of physical single sales also be counted?


hello where do i get “Comprehensive Audio Stream”


Hi MJD, I have a question, The “Comprehensive Audio Stream” includes Spotify??

[…] The main source of data for each avenue is respectively Spotify and YouTube. As detailed in the Fixing Log article, Spotify represents 157 million of the 272 million users of streaming platforms, […]


Shouldn’t streams for older songs be worth more than streams for newer ones tho?
At this point Ed Sheeran will probably pass MJ with CSPC
Just like how tour grosses are adjusted for inflation?


Hello! Any news on Streaming formula (Equivalent Albums Sales (EAS) = 272/157* Spotify streams / 1500 + YouTube views / 11750)? Infos about size markets of Japan, China, Korea (and others out Spotify)?

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