CSPC: Michael Jackson Popularity Analysis



So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each Michael Jackson album achieved? Well, at this point we hardly need to add up all of the figures defined in this article!


In the following results table, all categories display figures in equivalent album sales. If different, pure sales are listed between parentheses.

*Pure sales figures updated on 09/27/17.
'Av.' stands for Average, 'LD' for Last Day.

As a reminder:

  • Studio Album: sales of the original album
  • Other Releases: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album
  • Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (ratio 3/10)
  • Download Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10)
  • Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500 for Audio stream and 1/6750 for Video stream)

See where the artist ranks among remaining singers

Equivalent album sales of 116,732,000 copies. That isn’t a typo. Thriller is an insane selling machine that was activated on November 30, 1982 and never slowed down since.

We already knew it was the top selling album in pure sales format of all-time. At 40,5 million, it also generated the most compilations sales of all-time, leading both fundamental categories in spite of them cannibalizing each other. Among non-Soundtrack albums, Thriller is also the #1 ever in terms of physical singles sold, again challenging laws of gravity as this format also comes as an opposition to pure album sales. As for downloads of tracks, among pre-digital era albums, Thriller ranks… #1 of all-time.

With over 2 billion YouTube views, it also leads the comprehensive ranking for pre-2000 albums. At 766 million Spotify streams, Thriller misses a mythical 6-dimensions all-time domination as it is the runner up to Nirvana‘s Nevermind.

Those fabulous achievements are resumed by its overall tally of 116,7 million CSPC sales. To put it in perspective, it’s lead over the all-time #2, Saturday Night Fever at 67 million, is bigger than the total sales of U2‘s The Joshua Tree. Thriller is bigger than Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon and Whitney Houston‘s Bodyguard combined, those are the #2 and #3 top selling albums ever in pure sales format. Merging all three absolute classics of the BeatlesAbbey Road, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the White Album, would still not be enough to challenge Thriller alone.

It also tops the complete discographies of acts like Guns N’ Roses, George Michael plus Wham!, Britney Spears and Coldplay. You get the point, the success of this legendary album is quite simply unparalleled.

We tend to blame the lack of promotion, TV appearances or tours to explain why some albums sell poorly. Thriller had no re-issue in its first 15 years. It had no proper tour to support it. Michael Jackson did no interview, and no talk show during the entire run of the album. He did one, and only one performance, and it was a tribute to his former label rather than a real promotion of his current record. Songs and videos from Thriller were simply unstoppable by themselves.

With a steamroller of this magnitude we almost forget that Michael Jackson released more albums. The madness continues. At 62,9 million equivalent album sales, Bad takes over the #3 all-time ranking behind the aforementioned Thriller and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. It tops by millions albums like Rumours (Fleetwood Mac), IV (Led Zeppelin), Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd), Grease, Nevermind (Nirvana) and Bodyguard (Whitney Houston). It is as big as the full catalogs of Taylor Swift and Usher.

At 45,4 million, Dangerous cracks Come On Over by Shania Twain and every album of the Beatles and Madonna. So-so albums for Michael Jackson like HIStory and Off The Wall are bigger than 90s bangers like Spice by the Spice Girls and Baby One More Time by Britney Spears. The degree of his success is on a completely different level than any other act. Interestingly, HIStory almost matches the singles performance of Dangerous in all categories, which shows it would have been an even stronger seller if it wasn’t for its very high price.

The rest of his catalog is made up of recordings from his teenage years, a couple of posthumous releases and an album widely regarded as an absolute bomb. Those albums still add for a strong 36,4 million equivalent album sales.

Overall, Michael Jackson is up to 323,7 million equivalent album sales. The greatness of the Beatles consistency still provides them the #1 spot but the King of Pop comes in as an impressive runner up. His catalog sales as well as his streams remain as buoyant as ever so this tally will never stop increasing.

The following pages list his most successful songs as well as his records and achievements. Do not forget to check our amazing cross-artists lists posted inside the CSPC: Data Collector which includes the full listing of all CSPC results compiled so far to better gauge his position in the history of the music industry.

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

Sources: IFPI, Spotify, YouTube, Chartmasters.org.

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Chicago reached 100 Mio. on Spotify. Also recently Hold my hand and You are not alone.

On youtoube Beat it recently reached 900 Mio. views, Rock with you 300 Mio. and Who is it 100 Mio. views.


Thriller sold 236,000 albums (physical + digital) in 2022, only USA


chart data

11 Std.

Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ now ranks among the top 10 best selling albums of the year in US pure sales, 40 years after release.

Thomas Christiansen

On Spotify “Chicago” is currently MJ’s 3rd biggest track on a daily basis, with close to 1/2 million plays a day. Why the sudden interest?


It went viral on TikTok like quite a few of his songs!


At the time of writing, ‘Thriller’ has now topped 120 million EAS.

It’s astounding to think that one album has been more successful that the entire career output (so far) of some pretty big international acts. Dire Straits, Coldplay, RHCP, Simon and Garfunkel, Adele, Drake and Rihanna to name a few…


Apart from Simon and Garfunkel, you’re right according to this system


Yes, sorry, I meant to say ‘The Doors’. Thank you for the correction!


Michael Jackson was part of Thriller album, there was dozens of workers and inventors, everyone’s goal was maximum commercialism or sales. That’s why its rating is not at the top. Not so creative. Call product.


I’m not necessarily saying than I’m a fan of either Jackson or ‘Thriller’. Just commenting on the enormous success it has achieved regardless of how many people were involved in it’s creation.


How is it any less creative, than say Blood on the Tracks, OK Computer, Nevermind, Sticky Fingers etc

You just sound like a bitter snob, finding fault and putting something down, just because it’s not to your taste.


Read everyone’s reviews from the critics. They say it better. Are Agatha Christie books better than, let’s say Herman Hesse, John Steinbeck or L-F Celine? I just threw a comment out of context. It’s not dangerous.


No, it’s bollocks. It’s not everyone’s reviews, it’s a certain subset of societys reviews. Do you really think hip hop magazines, bang on about or even give a fuck about, the merits or validity of Blonde On Blonde or Pet Sounds. On top of that, the majority of the world couldn’t give a toss what critics say, let alone use them as a barometer of what music they enjoy or want to buy. I don’t know what you deem as creative but for me, Thriller is on many levels. It’s not only the most popular album of all time and… Read more »


What’s your point? That’s like 99% of music out there!


There is an interesting comment in Sandra Bullock’s film The Lost City. She plays a romance novelist who’s extremely popular but would prefer to write serious work. The cover model says, “How can I be embarrassed by something that brings so much joy to so many people?”
If you like something, enjoy it. But don’t try to negate someone else’s happiness.
Same with your quote about Agatha Christie. Hundreds of millions of people bought her books. It obviously brought them joy. Why insult their taste?


50 cent snoop dogg

Jorge Neto

Hi MJD, do you have any estimate of how many albums Michael sold since his passing in 2009? According to Soundscan he sold 16.1 million albums in the US alone as of 2019, is it possible to make a worldwide figure?


some of y’all need to shut up
michael had 6 studio albums and the beatles 13
the beatles did it in 7 years and mj in 22 years

the thing is that both found their own way into their success and there’s no excuse to invalidate the other, just SHUT UPPPPP


Not to mention that Michael has actually 10 studio albums. Anyway, they’re both icons

Last edited 1 year ago by Sonique

He had 6 albums as an adult. If we don’t add
The other four albums ,they won’t affect that

Last edited 1 year ago by Suhayb

mj I a solo artist being compared to a band , I think that says enough


Just out of curiosity, there probably are good reasons, but is History the only album that is counted twice? Or are any of the other (double) albums also treated this way?


I hope this works so they could answer you soon


Why number of sales are changing?
Do they update daily?


Streams are updated daily. The EAS from streams cause movement on their sales.


Alas, the question is probably too dumb/difficult or easy for me to search for


Well disc one of history is a compilation and disc two is a studio album and disc on is certified platinum in the us but disc two is certified 8 times platinum in the us so the compilation and studio album are considered like two separate things even though they are put together.


No, it’s the only double studio album in his catalogue. HIStory is actually not counted twice. The US RIAA is the only certification body in the world that counts double albums as 2. HIStory was released in 1995 and the RIAA established this rule in September of 1996, according to Billboard magazine. But for some reason, HIStory’s sales of had reached 6x platinum bt that point, but the figure wasn’t doubled to 12x platinum as it shouldve been (like Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ & The Beatles ‘The Beatles’ doubled their certifications for these double disc releases following the rule change).… Read more »


Hi Aska, you’ve got your dates wrong about when multi counting was introduced, the multi counting rule came into place in June 1992, not 1996. Due to this, pretty much nothing you said above is correct. 1992 : Multi-box sets are redefined as two or more CDs (or the equivalent in LPs or cassettes) with a minimum running time of 120 minutes. The criteria are also changed so that each unit within a set is counted separately. The criteria for a Gold® multi-box set now require sales of 500,000 units; Platinum®, one million units; and Multi-Platinum™, two million units. 1997: An… Read more »


Is this why RIAA created certification system? Who is the best at manipulating system. The question is probably that the record company is trying to maximize revenues. Box-sets generate big money. Product is ready, it is inserted into the case and max price. Several different versions.
The Beatles have a 16 box sets and Dylan 23 box sets. First box set was Dylan’s Biography 1985.


It was actually a question about the counting on this website. The 18m+ (ww) sales of the double album are counted as 18m+ for the studio album and 18m+ as a compilation, as it cannibalized on the earlier studio albums as well. I was wondering if this happened more often

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