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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Hi MJD or Martin or Al!

Do you guys have an article that shows the estimates of every artist’s population regular buyers and casual buyers? If not, do you guys know the estimates you have with certain artists? Thank you in advance!


Hello Chartmasters team.

Are there any plans to update the ASR rating list in the future? Cheers!


In fact, this entire process isn’t even required for calculating EDS. It is just a measure of which artist had the highest selling album, though all of his other albums could have been flops.


This is the only page on Chartmasters which makes the entire website less credible. An artist which has 1 or 2 hit albums in a region is certainly less successful than an artist which had multiple hit albums. An excellent example of this would be Madonna vs Whitney in Europe. Bodyguard sold more than 10M in Europe, and the rest of her albums have sold less than 4.5M. On the other hand, Madonna has ONE 9M, TWO 8M, THREE 6M albums in Europe. Thus, Whitney’s Bodyguard gets multiplied by a factor of around 50% of entire discography, while Madonna’s TIC… Read more »


It would be really nice if you guys could update this list. Someone like Elvis should obviously be included. You guys do amazing work!


“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.“
Why?! It’s not logical imo. If you sold just 2 albums by 50 mln you’re more successful then that who needed 10 albums for this achievement. And because of it MJ the most successful ever. Isn’t it?



i like this concept, but i have a question.

I understand that it is very very hard to go into the 500+ point range. However, I see some of the biggest modern day global superstars in the 150-250 point range. They are on top of the worldwide year-end sales lists, enjoy longevity for many eras, have build a massive loyal fan base and promote their work as much as possible over months. So what is the main reason those are failing to go into the 400-500 point range? Anything they could do about that?


Kill ’em all on besteveralbums.com is the eighth best album of the year, not among the top five.

[…] to our new ASR (Artist Success Rating) concept, we know that their sales represent 21.94 million times the purchase of their entire discography. […]


Very interesting concept MJD!
Once again you came up with an exciting tool, concept for industry

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