CSPC: Michael Jackson Popularity Analysis

CSPC Michael Jackson

After two weeks of teasing with related, making of-like articles, the wait is finally over. It’s time to shine our light on the King of Pop. Iconic, massive, legendary, cult, an anthem of a generation, we quickly run out of words while speaking of Michael Jackson.

Maybe the most amazing element is that he achieved this status with a mere six albums from the time he turning 18 in 1976 to his death in 2009. Obviously, it helps when those albums include blockbusters like Thriller, Bad and Dangerous.

This limited discography in volume raises some questions though. As popular as Michael Jackson has been it is hard to imagine him challenging artists like Madonna or Mariah Carey, who were massive too but issued far more albums and mostly during a more favorable time for record sales.

Additionally, artists with well-known elements like video clips, dance moves, widely covered / sampled and highly influential are often seen as bigger sellers than they really are. Since Michael Jackson assembles these elements better than anyone we may wonder even more how much he truly sold.

A lot of myths are well alive around him, from the 750 million record sales to the 100 million copies sold of Thriller. Those claims are clearly fake though, on par with the billion sales of the Beatles or Elvis Presley. Speaking of myths, most of them are related to Thriller. Is it so big that it eclipses everything else and asks the question, were the likes of Off The Wall and Bad less successful than often believed?

As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to relevantly gauge his results. This concept will not only bring you sales information for all Michael Jackson‘s albums, physical and download singles, as well as audio and video streaming, but it will also determine their true popularity. If you are not yet familiar with the CSPC method, the next page explains it with a short video. I fully recommend watching the video before getting into the sales figures. Of course, if you are a regular visitor feel free to skip the video and get into the figures.

Let’s go!

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The Estate said “Michael” album sold 5M+, what do you think ?


I thought Dangerous and Heal the world would be higher because these are are the favourites among Chinese fans.


You are finally getting what you deserve, congrats to MJD and all the ChartMasters team🥳.


Do you know if Number Ones passed 20M ?


Seems unlikely. After 3 years its impossible to think it sells 8 million albums at a time when album sales are so weak. These days, even new release from a top selling artist would struggle to sell 8 million physical albums, let alone an album that was released 17 years ago


True but if it sells like half a million a year (or more?), surely it will pass 20M soon? It solds 100 000 units in the UK alone this year.


Can I know how much has We are the world sold worldwide? is it possible to know it? Also why isnt it included in his sales if its his song technically?

Timothy Pernell

It’s credited to USA for Africa, not Michael.

Stephon Jackson

Is ‘Off The Wall’ eligible for 9X-PLATINUM (or even DIAMOND) yet?

Thomas Christiansen

“Dirty Diana” has passed 100M plays on Spotify, it’s the 5th track from “Bad” to do so (after “Smooth Criminal”, “Man in the Mirror”, “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Bad”). That is a massive achievement! Only two other pre-2000 albums have achieved this – and no, “Thriller” is not one of them, but that’s just a matter of weeks as “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” stands at 97.6M. So that’s one stat where “Bad” actually leads “Thriller”. Biggest 5th track race: 1. Dr. Dre “Xxplosive” (“2001” – 1999) – 108.8M 2. Fleetwood Mac “Never Going Back Again” (“Rumours” –… Read more »

“Thriller” is also on track to become the first pre-2000 album with SIX 100M+ tracks on Spotify.

Biggest 6th track race:

1. Michael Jackson “Human Nature” (“Thriller” – 1982) – 89.3M
2. Pink Floyd “Brain Damage” (“Dark Side of the Moon” – 1973) – 84.1M
3. 2Pac “How Do You Want It” (“All Eyez On Me” – 1996) – 74.4M
4. Michael Jackson “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” (“Bad” – 1987) – 72.6M
5. Nirvana “Drain You” (“Nevermind” – 1991) – 71.2M

Thomas Christiansen

Hi Gui!

I actually had “California Love” as an orphan, as it was released 2½ months before the album – and the original version wasn’t even on the album, only a remix. Maybe that’s unfair of me.

Thomas Christiansen

Thanks. I’ve updated the lists. “Only God Can Judge Me” is now 5th on the 5th biggest track race. Very close to 100M. Huge album!


Hi. Guinness world record has Michael’s sales at 350M (albums+singles) while according to your article he suould be at around +430M. Where do those 80M more records come from? Were those 350M units reported before his death?


Hi, his records are divided like this (by 9/27/17):
Studio album sales: 182,6 million
Other releases: 100 million
Physical single sales: 79,35 million
Digital single sales: 67,5 million
Streaming: 4 million
Total records: 433,5 million


Hi, I was reading his article (MJ’s) again and I thought his digital sales were almost 80M. are they included in the “other releases”? and how do you get 4M from streaming?
thank you though


The exact number of digital sales aren’t here, but I remembered the number was in Queen’s CSPC. And the 4 million from streaming I counted by myself (😂) in page 47 (it may be wrong but still +430 million records).


so he surpassed 400M records with almost 200M studio albums that’impressive. Thank you anyways 😂

Nathan Abramson

What are MJ’s digital singles/ringtone sales now (Sept 2020) Vs. Queen?
Are digital singles still selling anywhere around the world?


Digital sales are currently HUGE in China, but the songs and albums that sell well are overwhelmingly new local artists and the occasional K-pop superstar, with the only Western artist to reach 1 million download albums being Taylor Swift.


You need to consider these releases sell so well cause they’re download exclusives there for a long time. They get close to 0 streams in China due to this. It’s similar to what Adele and Taylor did in western markets a couple of years ago.


Can’t say too much about MJ since we haven’t updated his sales.

Digital single sales are definitely not as big as they used to be with the exception of China for a few acts that are capable of selling over 10m with a song. A big hit can still pull off 500k+ in the US or Japan though. Ringtones on the other hand are basicly dead everywhere except in a few developing markets like India, Indonesia and possibly Nigeria. Although sales there are very limited to local acts.


A question about the album sales total in the UK (26.3 million) : if I add every album listed here I get around 22.7M, and then adding the smaller compilations and stuff I get maybe… 24M ? Does that mean you’re adding the Jackson 5 compilations to his total ? Because I would strongly disagree with that 😉

Love this site by the way.


Hey 😉

Actually when I said “Jackson 5 compilations” I meant stuff like 18 Greatest Hits which mostly includes Jackson 5 songs. I know some of these were credited to “Michael Jackson & The Jackson 5” but obviously the main reason people bought them is the J5 songs, that’s why I think it’s questionable to add those to his total…


But I’m not talking about the EAS stuff, I’m talking about the album sales total in the UK (26.3 million) : did you assign compilations like 18 Greatest Hits to his total ?


OK then 😉

Personally I would include compilations featuring mostly J5 songs in the J5 total, and compilations featuring mostly MJ songs in MJ’s total. It would certainly decrease his total but I think it’s more fair.


Hi MJD, i was just reading some old billboard issues when i found out that prior to april 1. 1991 a gold certification for video longform was 25 000 units and a platinum 50 000 units sold….In fact,just like video singles…. So it means that the 8 times riaa certification of april 17 1989 for “moonwalker” is equivalent to 400 000 sales ….Not the 800 000 that appears on the riaa website…. Am i right or did i make a mistake somewhere ? I have another question regarding short form albums … At one time gold was 250 000 and… Read more »