Understanding: Billboard BB200 vs US Album Sales


III) Billboard Issues

D) Music Type coverage

By now, we know that Country artists had their sales divided by 2 on the old Billboard charts, while Pop / Rock acts were inflated by around 50%. The cross-over black artists were in-between with mostly realistic sales, pure R&B stars like Teddy Pendergrass were slightly deflated.

However, what about other genres? We noted that instrumental artists like Yanni were deflated too. What about Latin stars? Both of the following Julio Iglesias albums were certified for 500,000 and 600,000 sales respectively.

Date: 01/09/1984 – Run: 193-192-189-183-*179*-182 (6 wks)

Produced by: Ramon Arcusa
Date: 24/08/1985 – Run: 155-118-107-104-97-95-*92*-92-136-160-168-181 (12 wks) UK:#61/4

Well, luckily Soundscan fixed all that. Or has it? The following albums are from his son, Enrique Iglesias.

Date: 25/05/1996 – Run: 160-150-198-195-0-0-166-150-172-168-165-*148*-196-200-168-196-199-0-0-193-200 (17-11c wks)
Re 01: 01/02/1997: 199 (1 wk)

    2. VIVIR
Produced by: Christina Abaroa/Rafael Perez Botija
Date: 15/02/1997 – Run: *33*-48-58-83-87-95-122-146-167-151-159-170-194-0-197-162-155-194 (17-13c wks)
Re 01: 18/10/1997: 142 (1 wk)

Pretty modest chart runs. They sold respectively 380,000 and 275,000 units as per Soundscan by 1999. Enrique Iglesias went Platinum as early as in November 1996 and Vivir mirrored it in May 1997. Soundscan reflected some 30% of their sales only. That same year, Mas by Alejandro Sanz was released. It was certified 6xP inside the Latin category, representing 600,000 sales. It never entered the Billboard Album Chart though. This is the same for various Alejandro Fernandez albums, the same also for early Shakira records, and the same again for Mexican star Selena.

Selena was highly popular in early 90s inside the Latin community. That’s why she accumulated only 1 week inside the Album chart, at #183 in June 1994. When she was murdered aged just 23 in March 1995, the news around the event crossed over the whole country. Her posthumous album Dreaming of You debuted at #1 as standard retailers were now selling her records. Still, all sales on Latin outlets were mostly ignored. While the album has scanned some 2,9 million units to date, it is certified 59xP Latin by the RIAA, representing 3,54 million sales.

From 2002, the gap between charts and sales for Latin albums diminished a lot. The massive success of both Shakira and Enrique Iglesias in 2002 no doubt helped to convince Billboard / Soundscan to improve their coverage of that segment. Ironically, their following Spanish albums ended up outselling their 90s smashes in terms of Soundscan sales, although they were clearly lower sales.

Christian acts suffered the same fate. Amy Grant‘s album Straight Ahead reached Gold after a few months without charting. For them too the situation improved over the years, so now the Casting Crowns can easily top the charts.

With the proliferation of huge hypermarkets, the stand-alone music retailers closing their doors into the 00s, and iTunes putting all music genres on a par, those unfair issues started to disappear for all genres.

I hope this article cleared up a lot of doubts you had. I also hope our formula will enable you to identify sales of your favorite artists by applying it and adjusting if needed depending on their type of music. Below I include the Excel file that I have used all along this article. Feel free to use it and refer to this article as your source / basis for explanations.

File: US-ChartsToSalesConvertion

Sources: Billboard, Soundscan, RIAA, Hanboo, Toledo Magazine, Rock Hill Herald, Washington Post

5 2 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

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?