Understanding: Billboard BB200 vs US Album Sales


III) Billboard Issues

C) Flawed Chart Runs – The favored

On the other side of the spectrum, all Pop / Rock artists have enjoyed a very favorable chart history by Billboard for many years. We start with Sting. His two albums listed here were supposedly eligible for one more platinum award during their chart runs while they received a lower award. He seems to be inflated by a good 40%.

Then, we see INXS. Kick was a smash, a 4-million selling smash. Not as big as the charts suggest though as it looked like a 6-million seller. We may guess charts started to benefit them from their big cross over hits. Their album Listen Like Thieves was already largely favored, which shows it had more to do with demographics purchasing this type of music. Its chart run is below:

Produced by: Chris Thomas
Date: 02/11/1985 – Run: 122-80-58-49-48-46-45-44-49- (9 wsf)
            04/01/1986: 49-53-51-47-45-45-41-40-33-21-18-14-12-12-*11*-13-20-21-21-25-32-35-39-41-44-49-58-58-66-76-78-82-81-75-75-79-79-77-90-96-114-126-151-167-164-181 (55 wks)UK:#48/15

For fun, we may compare an Alabama album from the same year.

Date: 23/02/1985 – Run: 100-65-50-29-29-*28*-28-28-45-45-46-53-51-54-56-57-72-68-98-96-123-120-135-135-151-147-147-149-147-141-156-156-173-191-189-188-181-179-178-200(40 wks)

Listen Like Thieves peaked higher (11 to 28), lasted longer (55 to 40) and charted at Christmas while 40 Hour Week peaked in March. Quite naturally, calculated sales are more than two times higher for it, 1,3 million to 0,5 million. The reality? Listen Like Thieves took 5 months to reach Gold and 27 to hit Platinum, while 40 Hour Week reached Gold and Platinum status after only 2 months, reaching even 2xPlatinum four years later.

Back to our list presented on this page, we reach the case of U2. The Irish rock band has been massively inflated also. All their albums, including the ones not listed like The Unforgettable Fire or Under A Blood Red Sky, are boosted by more than 50%. The situation is identical for Police. RIAA certifications of those bands always seemed fairly low in comparison to their chart performances – the truth is that their chart performances were severely high in comparison to their sales. They still performed insanely well obviously, just not as well as the charts suggest.

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Please reply back soon MJD, I’m trying to do an analysis on Zara Larsson and I need 2017 album sales, audio streams and downloads for all markets please 🙏🏻

Donald Miller

I found the part about Teddy Pendergrass interesting because of his comparable lack of crossover success. Would have been nice if you had included a non-crossover country act or two for contrast.


Hi MJD, You are really good at getting the more accurate figures. It is your unstinting skill, why don’t you and your team start a worldwide top 100 songs in a weekly basis. What i dont like in us billboard hot 100 charts is that there is a limit now on the number of weeks for a song staying on the charts and if it reaches that limit, the song will not appear on the following week even if its sales are still enough to be in the hot 100. For the uk charts, i dont like their new rule… Read more »


And 2013 Album sales for Europe, Australia, new Zealand, Canada and the United States


Actually I changed my mind, can I instead get CD, Vinyl and digital Album Sales and the total number of streams and singles sales for all markets in 2017, if you can can you list them on here please?