The truth about Britney Spears’ album sales in Asia

 East asia – Japan

Although the availability of precise figures from Oricon creates the illusion of a market under control, we know how difficult it is to figure out the reality when analyzing them.

The main reason for this complexity is the ineligibility of imports until 2003. They represented roughly one third of sales for foreign releases, but this ratio was very different from one album to another.

Britney’s debut album, …Baby One More Time entered at #17 in March 1999 with 20,270 copies sold. It was certified Gold (100,000) that same month and then Platinum (200,000) in May. Sales from Oricon were higher than those levels when they were awarded. By the time of the Platinum award the album had indeed shifted 235,000 units. Thus, certifications bring us no information about copies imported. When BOMT left the Top 100 in August, it was on almost 280,000 units scanned. The #100 album was averaging 3,000 units per week so there is still plenty of room for additional sales. Assuming an average of 1,500 copies per week until May 2000 when its promotion came to a close, that represents an extra 60,000 units for a total of 340,000 units. From the release of Oops! to today, the album added about 10% of its initial sales in other markets, applying this ratio to Japan we get a calculated retail sales to date figure of 375,000 units.

Obviously, this misses imports. Thanks to’s list of awards we know they weren’t high enough to push the album over half a million total sales, although it was most likely fairly close.

Oops sold 242,000 units during its first 14 weeks according to Oricon. Sales of this album were much more frontloaded, plus the Japanese market doesn’t boom at Christmas, thus it didn’t that much after. Estimates are on 1,500 units per week for five additional months and then 10% more units up to now for a grand total of 300,000 units. Again, this is without imports which were increasing in proportion every year.

Then comes Britney. It sold only 191,130 units as per Oricon, nevertheless it is mentioned with over 500,000 sales by While surprising, this isn’t inconsistent with available data. In fact, the album is the only pre-2003 set for which we have a piece of information about imports as it sold 99,000 units from December 2001 to November 2002. Interestingly, the album’s first three weeks of sales through imports are missing as they fall into Oricon’s previous year. This absence of early imports is crucial as Britney sold nearly 107,000 national copies during those weeks. To resume:

The figure of 60,000 units is an estimate of the 37 uncharted weeks to November 2002, a high one considering the album has been in and out the Top 100 for several months. If we use a simple cross multiplication to solve the question, it results in 73,000 imports during the first three weeks. The total is then 423,000 overall copies by November 2002, a figure much closer to half a million than the initial Oricon figure of 191,000 sales.

From the In The Zone era imports have been included in the charts, which had also been extended from a Top 100 to a Top 300. This massively improves their coverage. The Greatest Hits estimate shown in Chartmasters’ article was too high because of The Singles Collection cannibalizing its sales, which goes on to show that every detail is important. You can’t forget about discography dynamics while estimating a specific release. It is confirmed at 750,000 units by 2006, it then sold 15,000 units a year, until 2009’s compilation, and roughly 5,000 units per year since.

Merging all the data together concludes on the following album sales to date:

  • Baby One More Time – 500,000
  • Oops!… I did It Again – 425,000
  • Britney – 525,000
  • In The Zone – 450,000
  • Greatest Hits, My Prerogative – 840,000
  • Blackout – 100,000
  • Circus – 140,000
  • The Singles Collection – 100,000
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Isn’t 1xP=15.000 for foreign artists using the 2008 levels?


in Thailand


Her numbers in big Asian market, such as Japan, Korea. Wasn’t really that impressive, however she did very well in the smaller markets such as Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia. It is somewhat disappointing to me to see her Japan sales.


Her numbers in Korea was impreasive. At that time Korean music market was significantly declined. And plus, there was no kpop boom yet. So the biggest local sales in 2001 was under 700,000 copies. Of couse, Britney was the biggest wester acts here.

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Where to check indian certifications for other artists?Thanks

Hot Stryker

Just an FYI . Thalia’s Nandito Ako album which had the cut of the same title was certified as the best-selling album of all time in the Philippines by PARI (Philippine Association of the Record Industry). They have confirmed that indeed, it has sold more than 1 million copies in the Philippines during the height of her popularity. Ogie Alcasid, a Filipino singer-composer, who happens to be the original singer of Nandito Ako, jokingly said in an interview that his biggest hit (Nandito Ako) is the Philippines best-selling song of all time with over 1 million copies sold, and unfortunately… Read more »


Taiwan certification criteria for international artists are as below:
1996.8-2002.2 50,000(1P); 25,000(1G)
2002.3-2005.12 30,000(1P); 15,000(1G)
2006.1-2007.10 20,000(1P); 10,000(1G)
2007.11-2008.12 14,000(1P); 7,000(1G)
2009.1-Now 10,000(1P); 5,000(1G)
The market in Taiwan was at its peak from 1996 to 2001. Baby and oops estimation are way too less.


Hey MJD!

How would you say how successful beyonce is in asia?
Her first three albums was very successful there and also Destiny child was huge?
And compared with her peers like rihanna?
Rihanna vs Beyonce in Asia? Who is bigger ?


I am an Asian so I can answer these questions…
1.) Compared to her success in America, she is not that popular in Asia, being only successful in big commercial Asian markets like Japan but not the best sales in weaker markets like India.
2.) yes in Asia, he first three albums were huge successes in Asia, especially Sasha fierce era… however her fame and popularity in Asia began to simmer down when the 4 era started.
3.) Her peers are far more successful in Asia compared to her
4.) Rihanna is far more bigger and known in Asia


I am an Asian too and you are telling some lies. Beyonce is very popular in markets like Indonesia(2 albums sold past 100k) and Korea (millions of digital single downloads). Her songs Halo and If I Were A Boy are super super unbelivably huge in China. It is so so big. Beyonce is very popular in East Asia and Southeast Asia, and as you say, she may be not that popular in South Asia. I don’t know about that since I never been there. Beyonce’s peers are not far more pupular in Asia than her. Only Britney and Avril may… Read more »


Don’t understand why being Asian is too much of a criteria to answer this question.
In overall units Beyoncé is probably bigger than Rihanna in the region but she was around in the era of bigger album sales there. In recent years Rihanna is definitely the more popular one as she’s getting more YouTube views than her in every relevant market in the region except South Korea and Beyoncé’s album sales have been pretty poor there in recent years too, also in China Rihanna is up to 2.7m followers on QQ but Beyoncé only got 900k.


Yes you are right. That;’s because Beyonce’s popularity got big decline since 4 era. It actually has not too much to do with market size. Physical sales are dead in China now, but BTS new comeback already got 720k pre-orders physically in China(Korean imports, but bought by Chinese, the physical figures are all detailed everywhere). Even IZONE sold nearly 100k physical imports in China with their new comback. Taylor is still able to sell 250k physically with 1989 (locally issued, dont count imports since Chinese western music lovers never gather together to buy hundreds of copies each person and they… Read more »


If Beyonce has sold 83 million records, and Rihanna has sold 96 million records, then how can rihannas asian record sales by lesser than Beyonce? in fact, Chartmasters themselves have made a global heatmap of Beyonces popularity and if you look at the map, her popularity doesnt thrive in Asia compared to the US or Africa. Quote from the site- Overall, Beyoncé‘s popularity in Asia is not that strong. She underperforms in many major markets, such as the Philippines (#63), Singapore (#65). Taiwan (#83), Vietnam (#89), Hong Kong (#93), and as previously mentioned, Japan (#100). She sells a lot of… Read more »


The thing is that Beyoncé was huge in Japan and South Korea during the 2000’s. She just fell into irrelevancy in these markets during the 2010’s for some reason while Rihanna stayed decently popular to this day.


Even Britney who is consider irrelevant these days has better youtube views than her in Asia.


Beyonce ever since the end of the I am…sasha fierce era popularity has dipped worldwide. Her last lemonade managed to sell only 50k copies in its first week outside of the US. 60% of her lemonade sales came from the US (lemonade sold 1.5 million US units). If we subtract US sales, the album has managed only to sell 1 million WW. Whereas, for Rihanna, her songs like Umbrella, diamonds, stay, only girl, Whats my name, love the way you lie and many more hits have been so popular in Asia, She itself has sold most of her records from… Read more »