CSPC: AC/DC Popularity Analysis


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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Hi Thomas,

Yeah that downturn in sales/popularity post Back In Black is weird. I know FTATR went to #1 in the US and #3 in UK but it’s not a very well loved or remembered album these days, with 9 of it’s 10 tracks under 3.5m streams. Then it kind of goes into total free fall, with that run of three albums all performing terribly, especially FOTS managing just over 10m streams in total, before a big lift with Razors Edge and Thunderstruck in particular, in 1990.


I’m a far bigger fan of the Bon Scott era, Powerage being possibly my favourite, an album which I also think is under listened to. Cold Hearted Man, is easily one of my top 5 DC songs ever, why it was left off the original US release and still is, I’ll never know. I feel the same way about IALWTTT (IYWRR), as you do with FTATR, it should be higher than just over 61m. It’s just pure AC/DC for me and the video, on that float, with the bagpipes, will always be my favourite video/footage of them. I do like… Read more »


I take it you mean Backtracks, not Iron Man 2. Yeah I wore out my old UK vinyl LP copy a long time ago.

Thomas Christiansen

No actually. I did mean that CHM streams are high compared to other rarities like Crabsody in Blue and Carry Me Home – because it is also included on IM2, the closest thing to a AC/DC best of (even without IALWTTT, DDDDC, HB, FTATR & YSMANL)
The song IS their best rarity as well, but I’m sure IM2 helped, I believe it helped other tracks too, like Evil Walks for example.


I completely missed it on Iron Man 2, as I always go to Backtracks, when I listen to it on Spotify.

Being British, I’ve never really thought of it as a rarity. Luckily for me it’s always been Side 2 Track 4 on Powerage. It’s such a good track for me, that I have never understood why, come the CD release and re-release that they always give us the 9 track, US version. It’s not as if time or space is an issue.


Since you’ve compiled their Spotify streams, do you also want to do their Youtube streams and publish a Streaming Masters for them. I was going to do them next but seeing as you’ve already completed one half of the analysis?


Hi Thomas, no worries, that’s great.

I’ve sent you an email etc explaining what to do with the data and where to send it, once it’s completed.


Why are not included the sales in Australia of High Voltage and T.N.T., even in the first album of the same name Backstreet Boys I noticed are not included sales in the US on the total


Hi Jsak!

They are both included under the “other full length LPs” category, page 37! 🙂


Great work on this article everyone! I have one question to ask about their success. Why did they have rather low physical singles sales? Is it because:
A. Their genre, as rock rarely gets huge success in this format, as it can be seen from acts like Green Day
B. The cannibalization factor, that the song was so powerful that it convinced consumers to go purchase the album instead of the single, like with Hotel California by the Eagles?
Or perhaps another factor, like lack of airplay or limited release?


I’d say hard rock acts are not typically driven by singles or their success, Led Zeppelin being a prime example, who traditionally shunned singles, concentrating predominately on albums & touring. AC/DC certainly released far more singles than Zeppelin but in their case (as with many hard rock acts) I’d say the single was just to get some airplay and give notice that a new album was out, not necessarily with the intention of heavily promoting it or it being a hit. I’d also suggest that the singles chart is always more orientated to the pop listener/fan and few hard rock… Read more »

tom riise

Mozart 😉

Anthony Blanchard

Haha good idea but no, the artist is still alive!


a japanese artist?


It may not be the right thread but can we have a clue of who’s coming next ? 🙂

Anthony Blanchard

Hi Rell!

The next artist studied makes music of a genre that has not been treated by a CSPC analysis yet!
Maybe someone can guess who it is 😉


Andrea Boccelli ?


Thanks for answering dear Martin and Raffi,you have very kind
I believe that when you update U2,their EP Wide Awake In America (1985) that has sold 2.500.000 copies,it will also have to be evaluated as a total sale and not half.


Hello Thomas and Martin, congratulation again for the wonderful article on AC/DC
I just wanted to ask if you add the estimates of countries like Brazil, México and Argentina on page 44 and because EP Jalibreak is estimated 2.230.000 copies,I know that EPs are estimated half their valute.


Hi Iris, yes they are given an estimated figure.

’74 Jailbreak is indeed listed as an EP or I should say was released as an EP, but it did actually chart on the Billboard 200, called Billboard “Top LPs & Tape” at the time, as all EP’s did from the mid 60’s onwards, reaching No.76 and staying on the chart for 20wks and therefore is assumed as an album.


Hi, Guillaume ! First, congrats for your work, of course. Amazing, as always, and very appreciated. If I dare, may I suggest you my wish list for your future work ? First, of course, Elvis (I know, it’s coming, and I can just imagine how much difficult it can be, considering his discography). Then, three female singers : Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross. Six male singers : Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Cliff Richard. Four bands : The Beach Boys, The Who, Chicago, Van Halen. Greedy ? Oh yes, right, but I… Read more »


Edit (sorry) : Forgot two male singers in my requests list (Phil Collins and Paul Simon) and two bands (Genesis and Supertramp). There’s no hurry, of course… 😁


Hi Winston, can you and everyone else stop using specific artist threads to request other artists you would like to see studied. It is unwelcome and clutters up a thread it is completely irrelevant to.

If you wish to request more artists, please use the correct http://chartmasters.org/2017/10/cspc-sticky-thread-for-requests/ section. Thanks.