CSPC: AC/DC Popularity Analysis

AC DC

AC/DC, the Thunder from Down Under, were formed in Sydney, Australia, in 1973 by Malcolm Young and his schoolboy uniform wearing little brother Angus. After finding international success in 1979 with the seminal Highway to Hell album, they were suddenly struck by mortality. However, when lead singer Bon Scott died aged 33 in February 1980 they replaced one legendary front man with another. With Brian Johnson at the microphone they soon released their landmark Back in Black album, which transformed them into superstars of the Hard Rock genre.

Today, the future of the band is uncertain. Brian Johnson almost lost his hearing, forcing AC/DC to finish their latest tour in 2016 with singer Axl Rose of Guns ‘N Roses stepping in. Add to this, sadly, in November 2017 Malcolm Young died following years of dementia, leaving Angus Young as the only member left from the classic line-up.

Many claims have been made about AC/DC‘s record sales. Supposedly they’re over 200 million. Back in Black has been heralded by some as the 2nd biggest album of all time behind Michael Jackson‘s Thriller. While this may not be the case, we do know AC/DC are one of the strongest catalog sellers in the business. But how do they stack up against other Hard Rock behemoths like Metallica and Led Zeppelin? It’s time to find out.

As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to relevantly gauge their results. This concept will not only bring you sales information for all AC/DC‘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.

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Rell

That’s huge and well deserved, they’re such a great band! Thank you very much.

IRIS

Hello to all the chartmasters team. I would really like to congratulate you, your work is wonderful, I always follow you every day. I wanted to ask if you could add the sales or estimates for countries like Argentina,Brazil, México,Japan and continents like Asia for each album and also on page 44 and then I wanted to know why EP Jalibreak is considered as a whole sale,I know that the sales of EPs are considered half. Then I also wait with trepidation a new U2 analysis (updates) and Sting & The Police analysis . Sorry for any disturbance, I hope… Read more »

Raffi

Hi IRIS! Don’t know if you read the articles on other artists here on this site, but some of them have estimates on the countries you listed and some don’t. Though I’m not part of the group estimating album sales, I’m sure the real reason for this is because of insufficient data. For big artists whose sales were documented by old articles or label reports, we have sufficient data to calculate up to date sales in countries like Japan, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. This is why artists like Britney, MJ and Spice Girls have very detailed album sales breakdown… Read more »

Michael

I must make a confession. I dont know who AC/DC is. But men, that is some very impressive total.

Dan

Alternating current (AC) is an electric current which periodically reverses direction, in contrast to direct current (DC) which flows only in one direction.

Michael

Im sure I have heard of that one before though. Lol.

koerenas_albelia

“They’re well ahead of the Eagles and just behind Celine Dion on the all time artist list;
Celine’s article was one and a half years ago, please upadted her analysis, please

Dan

You didn’t close the quotation mark on the other side and it hurts my OCD..

Martin

The continual unwanted, unneeded and completely irrelevant (to the study posted in) “please update my fave” or “please study my fave” posts, hurts mine!

Nuclear dolphin

Does anyone know how many digital singles AC/DC have sold?

MJD

Hi ND!

The total is 33,42m. It includes a sizable share of ringtones since they were massive on this format was held out of iTunes (they arrived there in December 2012).

Nuclear dolphin

Thanks MJD 😊

Nuclear dolphin

Fantastic thank you. I expect them to move higher in years to come, great lasting appeal.

Nathan

Damn, I didn’t think they would be 190 million……….crazy.
Huge sellers in U.S., Germany, France, Australia…………when you’re that big internationally the sales really add up.

I wonder if Phil Collins sold more albums in Germany………..can’t wait for more artists.
This was a great read

Lance

I really like some of AC/DC’s stuff, and I knew Back in Black would be a huge seller. Still, thought when I saw their raw sales figures, they wouldn’t move ahead of Dark Side of the Moon. Those live albums and compilations really helped that, even though they weren’t a compilation band. And the Streaming was incredible for BIB and really surprised me with the streaming on some of their other albums also. In terms of raw album sales, are they on a trajectory to overtake dark side of the moon? 8 or so million albums seems like a long… Read more »

Thomas

Glad you enjoyed the article 🙂

Lance, it is highly unlikely BIB will catch DSOTM in raw sales. Like you said 8 million is a lot of albums, especially now, with raw sales going down. But you’re right BIB streaming is amazing, well ahead of DSOTM on Spotify and projected to increase that gap.

Streaming is going so fast, that during the days of making this article BIB (the song) has increased to 216m already! Oh, and T.N.T. & HTH are closing in on those milestones, now at 99m & 199m respectively.

Martin

PINK FLOYD – DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (1973) MONEY — 106,386,898 — 24% TIME — 70,376,031 — 16% BREATHE — 53,032,111 — 12% GREAT GIG… — 47,532,904 — 11% US & THEM — 37,123,602 — 9% BRAIN DAMAGE — 33,267,884 — 8% ON THE RUN — 24,645,864 — 6% ECLIPSE — 22,181,375 — 5% SPEAK TO ME — 21,838,157 — 5% ANY COLOUR… — 19,937,170 — 5% TOTAL — 436,321,996 43,632,200 TOP 5 TRACKS — 314,451,546 — 72% BOTTOM 5 TRACKS — 121,870,450 — 28% AC/DC – BACK IN BLACK (1980) BACK IN BLACK — 216,196,218 — 41% YOU… Read more »

MJD

Hi Thomas / Martin! Focusing on lowest tracks is precisely what I did when I started to check massively streaming figures back in 2014. My very first formula to convert streams into album sales used that method, assigning streams of the lowest song from all songs to the album and all streams over that threshold to individual songs. The most I got into figures though, the most I realized it wasn’t a good interpretation. As someone who almost never played individual songs in my life (almost exclusively full albums, never skipping a track, ever since I was young), the conclusion… Read more »

Martin

With Floyd in the UK, I think the change from Barrett to Gilmour caused the downturn in popularity, as they had to readjust themselves as a band, as well as their sound & style, with the loss of admittedly the key and most integral member. In many ways the Floyd with Waters & Gilmour at the helm is a different band to the one with Barrett, a bit akin to PG’s Fleetwood Mac and it’s transition from a blues band to a pop rock band with Nicks/Buckingham, they had to almost re-establish themselves musically and as a band. Although Atom… Read more »

Lance

Very interesting way to look at this. I once listened to a David Gilmour interview where he said The Final Cut had 3 great songs on it, the rest were average or sub standard. Overall, he thought the album was sub standard, because of this. I think most groups would view 3 great songs as at least a good album. Pink Floyd was clearly concerned about the continuity of the album as a whole, where Back in Black was a vehicle for 4 great songs, with some other songs to fill it out. I always thought BIB and DSOTM were… Read more »

Dan

Very impressive sales, bigger than i thought!
Great analysis, as usual.

Lorrane

My favorite band of all time
I accessed the site every day waiting for the AC/DC Article when I knew they would be next

Lorrane

btw
– Links on Page 3 are broken
– I’m sure that Back in Black did not sell 10 million copies in France
– Black ice did not sell 80,000 copies in Argentina?
– Back in Black did not sell 300,000 copies in Argentina?
– Guns n’ roses sold more records in UK, Netherlands and Japan than AC/DC? :O

Anthony Blanchard

Hi Lorrane!

First, thanks for your nice words 🙂
The links and the typo about Back in Black are corrected. I let MJD answers you about sales in Argentina!

MJD

Hi Lorrane! When we have not enough official data to confirm a figure, I set a “grey” raw estimate inside Excel sheets to serve calculations and then I write N/A on breakdowns of the article. I have wrongly put all Latin American sales in grey on their file which is why Thomas went with the N/A tag! My bad, now it is completed with albums for which there is detailed information 🙂 I also added figures of Live’s Collector’s Edition to the page of Live to avoid confusion! As for the last question, AC/DC were ironically good sellers very early… Read more »

Jason potter

Also half the countries you got unavailable so how do you know then back in black hasn’t sold 48 million, I’m sorry this site is so inaccurate, I believe the bands own websites and sources close to the artists not you

Martin

I hope you’ll look back on statements like these, in the future, hopefully with a bit more wisdom and laugh at how naive, trusting and easily led you were. As for knowing Back in Black is not at 48m, just do some simple arithmetic of its already certified units, even allowing for under certification in every territory it is certified, there is still no way you are finding another 20m or so, from the rest of the more minor music markets in the world. Do the maths, don’t just believe what you read or more to the point, what you’re… Read more »

MJD

Hi Jason! There isn’t half the countries unavailable. The same ones are listed on all pages because they are the most representative. If you check Asian and European totals, they aren’t barely the cumulative totals of listed countries, instead they are comprehensive. Same for Global figures that account from remaining countries of Latin America and Africa. You refer to websites, they are not official providers of music industry statistics. The RIAA, the BPI, the IFPI, the CRIA, etc., instead are. The purpose of artists’ sites is to promote them, not to report accurate data. For example, Sony website claims 1… Read more »

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