Extreme CSPC: Introducing the ASR, Artist Success Rating


Have you ever thought that album sales of your favorite artist weren’t reflective of his real success or that a release from his label was unnecessary? All of us already wondered What if…? and felt bothered because there was no way to know what would have happened if things had been done differently. Here comes some serious food for thought that may help you find answers!

For two years now we have been studying carefully records’ sales of various major artists. I reassure you: we won’t stop doing it. Nor we will change the methodology. This article will present you a sharp concept that may turn you off, but give it a chance as it is mind-blowing. It will come as a complement of the CSPC approach rather than as a replacement. For the first time, we will tell you that 1 isn’t always worth 1. You don’t have to be afraid, I’ll not introduce you the Quantum mechanics of the music industry! Well, now that I think about it, maybe I will, but at least I’ll try to make it as easy to understand as possible!

While we applied calculations to weight on par all formats and to balance appropriately equivalent album sales of an artist into his original recordings, the final results were nothing else than real sales. The Beatles did sell 406 million equivalent albums, Michael Jackson did sell 324 million and so on. Basically, a CSPC approach of an artist consists in 3 steps:

  1. to define raw sales of all records
  2. to weight all raw sales as per the format concerned
  3. to re-assign sales of all secondary packages into the original recording
Why the success of an artist differs from the worth of his catalog

What does it mean when 2 artists end on the same CSPC total? Technically, it means their respective catalog sold the same number of equivalent album units. Functionally, it means the worth of their catalogs is the same. Obviously, careers of these artists may differ in many ways. One may have released more albums, at different times with different market sizes and their recordings may have been exploited differently. If two artists sold 50 million CSPC units each, but the first one issued 10 albums and the second one issued only 2, it is rather clear that the former has been the most successful.

Should we calculate an average per album then? It would be a very bad idea. If we did that in 2005, we would have found out that Norah Jones and Dido were as successful as the biggest artists of all-time. It is something to get a pair of successful albums, it is something else to build a catalog as valuable as the one of the Beatles. Plus, an average wouldn’t help in sorting the impact of the exploitation.

The Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept defines the worth of an artist’s catalog as it stands. While it seems natural to believe that the success of an artist is defined by how much he sold, it’s only true if his full sales potential has been achieved. In real life, the exploitation of an entire catalog can’t have been perfectly optimized all along the artist’s career, there have been lost value along the road. In other words, all artists could have sold better.

What if I tell you that I found a way to identify which artists have lost the most value? A way to prove that even if an artist sold less than some other one, he is been the most successful still? I should warn you – not all of you will like the results! That’s the way it is though and as previously mentioned, our CSPC lists will stick to purely verified sales so there is no need to worry.

Now that I have set the overall idea, let’s introduce the Artist Success Rating which rates the absolute success of an artist independently of how his records were exploited by his record company. This rating uses in part CSPC results but pushes the reasoning into higher level of thoughts to make up from the lost value. Our goal today is to found a way to resolve this formula:


ASR:     Artist Success Rating
CSPC:   Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept
LV:        Lost Value

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What’s these pages mean? I think this website could help something great things to many music fans. now I could understand values of the album. you know, 20 years ago, I remembered every songs in the album. but now I just forget the album easily. Nirvana, Notorious B.I.G, Queen, MJ and so on. this pages guide 101 course of music. great job, thanks. what can I do for you lovely guys?


So looking at the previous list of most successful female artists based on ASR, I understand Madonna is the most successful overall. But going just by this current list, strictly according to records sold, is Rihanna the highest selling female artist ever and third highest selling overall artist? Her numbers are right behind Michael and the Beatles… If I’m reading this correctly


Oh for sure! Even if I’m not a fan, Madonna is Madonna! I was just surprised to see Rihanna’s sheer massive numbers. And so soon into her career. But “success” wise, MJ, Madge, the Beatles, etc. are of course a whole different league. But hey, yay for everybody lol


Wow. I honestly thought that Madonna, would retain the third spot and probably having a bigger gap than the 4th ranked artist. But as you can see on this list she is not even close to reaching the 3rd spot. There are so many artists that I have not heard of before but did amazingly well. It really caught me by surprise. Anyway, I always knew that Michael Jackson has amass a bigger popularity than the Beatles. The Beatles was super2 popular, but MJ being a solo artist created a lot more buzz and a lot more fans being obsessed… Read more »


Elvis beat those rock bands too likely and don’t forget Madonna has a good number of them beat too. She is more successful than Pink Floyd or Rolling Stones. Elton John too. I find that really impressive.


Honestly, not a fan of ASR though it’s also another thing that I wouldnt mind checking the rankings.

It’s just that it gives more advantage to music artists who have sold a lot with fewer albums released. Id prefer Celine Dion releasing albums even if they continue not to sell well so i can continue collecting her albums and hear more new songs from her.


Not really. Some music artists stop maybe because theyre scared to release an album that will sold less. Some people die prolly due to wrong decisions or health issues and if they havent, they could have continued to release albums even if it wasnt selling well. Longevity matters. Even if Celine sold less but her least selling english album wasnt really a failure. Her french albums sold less but is actually successful for french albums. Mariah may have sold less but once again, her albums add more of her legacy as a music artist. Mariah wouldnt have sold more albums… Read more »


Hi MJD, I know it’s not a simple average that’s why I commend you for making this ASR cos I tried doing it myself and I just couldnt come up with something good and your formula is better. But again, I can see a flaw on your ASR. However, depending on how we view it, like I’m actually satisfied with the way you have done it. I just don’t have to think deeper that it isnt fair for artists who have released more albums. But yes, the flaw on your ASR is those who have release fewer albums tend to… Read more »

Carlo Smith

“fewer albums = more successful?”

That is quite a slippery slope concept. Let’s say Whitney didn’t die in 2012 and kept releasing new albums every two years that don’t sell much, she would be dragged down under this methodology, and it just wouldn’t make any sense.

Or let’s say Madonna died in 1989 and never released TIC. The posthumous sales of her first 3 albums would’ve been huge. Her numbers would even possibly be higher than the actual Madonna who spent 25 years dominating the charts.


MJD always wants to put Michael in the top and many times I want to place Madonna far below. We know that in the last decade Madonna was 10 times more successful than Michael Jackson. In Michael’s analysis, MJD compares the sales of his singles with those of Madonna. CLEAR that Michael has sold more BECAUSE he died at the best moment of the digital ERA. I would like you to make a list of those who have the most N 1 in the whole world. In the most important countries. MJD will not do IT IS THAT MICHAEL does… Read more »


I think you’re just a bigger Madonna fan. Even if MJ hadn’t passed he’d still be ahead of Madonna and I doubt she’d ever catch him. MJ catalog has always outsold hers by far.


Why some of you like to act like a dumbs? Michael sold more albums, more physical and digital singles, more streams on all platforms, best catalog seller. In 2014-2015 both of them released albums and Xscape outsold Rebel Heart and almost MDNA. Death effect five years after his death? Please, stop!!! Don’t force. Madonna has more #1, ok. Good for her. She is a legend too. No one is putting Michael where he doesn’t deserve. Deal with it and stop with childsih behavior.


I would hope Madonna was generally more successful in the 00s decade since MJ released just one studio album and effectively went into hiding for the latter half the decade before passing away… Just because Michael Jackson is far more successful doesn’t diminish Madonna’s accomplishments. You’ve done that.

Nuclear dolphin

Madonnas streaming figures are a joke.


I’m analytical and thus made my head hurt but….
I get the point. I’ve skways felt MJ was ‘more successful’ than the Beatles even though the pure numbers don’t necessairly prove it.


The Beatles are more successful than MJ but the advantage of MJ is that he is just one person. The Beatles are 4 individuals. The Beatles is a legendary band but i cant say John Lennon is a music legend. I cant say Paul is a music legend. But I can say Michael Jackson is a music legend.


You can’t say that 2 of the most successful song writers of all time are legends? K.


Ok. All the Beatles members should be considered music legends since if it wasnt for them, there wouldnt be The Beatles. My point was could they be as successful as MJ if they went solo? Paul tried right but was never even near as successful as MJ nor even sold a lot to make him a really successful solo artist. Paul got the huge networth because of The Beatles. I have said that individually, the are not music legends but Im fine if they are considered by others to be music legends. Perhaps, its just easier to evaluate a solo… Read more »


Paul McCartney received a reward from Guinness world record for being the most successful songwriter of all time (most platinum songs ever). That was in 77, if i’m not mistaken. He had many more hits since then.


Interesting concept, and a good way to showcase just how unique MJ’s catalog’s success is due to the relatively few releases during his career.


I honestly don’t get it. lol
I tried


Are non english albums treated the same way english albums have been treated for ASR?



I love this concept! After all these months reading your articles, you still surprising me 😁
This is very interesting! We can see that Legend by Marley is one of the best selling album but it also reduce the sales if the others, this is very interesting!
Can we say that in long term, releasing a compilation is a bad choose for cases like Marley?

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