Elvis Presley’s US album sales

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Soundscan – Exploiting known information

Albums over 500,000 Soundscan sales

Among all statistics related to the singer, the most relevant of all that has been largely ignored ever since available is that he had 14 albums over 500,000 Soundscan sales as of the end of 2005. It’s a huge data.

We have confirmed information showing more than half a million scans by that date for only 6 albums. They are Elvis’ Golden Records, Elvis’ Christmas Album, It’s Christmas Time, If Everyday Was Like Christmas, ELV1S 30 #1 Hits and Elvis 2nd To None. Consequently, we need to identify 8 more records over that mark.

I’ll prevent you from going through the entire 192 albums that we haven’t listed so far. Instead, here are the 12 credible contenders:

There is several albums that could have been listed because they sold well, like White Christmas and Blue Hawaii, but figures are known for them and confirm scans under 500,000 units by late 2005.

What’s so good about this information is that for most of this list, we wouldn’t have guessed more than 500,000 sales, but indeed 8 out of the 12 did it. Which ones then?

Blue Christmas gained just over 500,000 sales when the original edition was added to the release to date total of the reissue, so we can count on it. As clarified in the previous page, the various releases of Aloha are merged together, so with 541,000 sales by January 2007 we can expect over half a million by the end of 2005 too. Both The Top Ten Hits and The Number One Hits climbed RIAA certifications fast during the 90s, with the later performing well on catalog rankings. They are clearly over 500,000 scans for the period.

In the other side, we can rule out The Great Performances. It just ended to hit the Gold award in 2018 while it was released in 1990, before the start of Soundscan, and was sold for many years at Columbia House, so its Soundscan-only sales would be below the mark. Similarly, Complete 50’s Masters which is certified for 400,000 sales but was available on both BMG and Columbia is unlikely to be over 500,000 at Soundscan alone.

The live at Madison Square Garden sold much less than Aloha during their respective first year, peaking at #11 against #1. Its availability at clubs was also lower, yet they both sold over 3 million units to date. In concrete words, it was at least as good as a catalog seller, so we can expect it to be among the half a million sellers at Soundscan since Aloha also is.

Amazing Grace had no doubt a sizable chunk of its sales outside of the soundscan radar but with 1,2 million units shipped since its 1994 release we can expect more than 500,000 sales properly tracked still.

We are left with 4 albums, the second and third volumes of the Golden Records series plus a pair of Gospel packages, How Great Thou Art and You’ll Never Walk Alone. They were all released 20 years or more before Soundscan and they all arguably sold much under a million units during their first year of release. Ultimately, the two Golden Records albums went Platinum while the Gospel recordings are both 3xPlatinum, sales achieved mostly thanks to catalog years. Thus, the latter albums are in all likelihood higher at Soundscan, especially since they are less dated and got more numerous CD releases. The strength of You’ll Never Walk Alone is also confirmed by the 54,000 units scanned by its 2008 reissue, Inspirational Memories.

The final list of albums arguably over 500,000 Soundscan sales by 12/2005 are listed below.

Why is this table so important? Well, first because it is no small news to know that an album like How Great Thou Art is most likely over 500,000 scans since 2005. Second because we know thanks to the remaining albums that deep catalog items that haven’t been replaced like this one increased their 2005 tally by about 30% by now. Third because these albums are diverse (live, compilations, budget releases, Christmas and Gospel recordings) and are perfect to set up realistic scales for all remaining albums of each kind. If we stick to our example of How Great Thou Art, it suggests both additional studio gospel efforts, His Hand in Mine and He Touched Me, should be on at least 200,000 Soundscan sales to date.

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Colin Bratkovich

It looks like CHARTMASTERS needs a better look at 1969s double -FROM MEMPHIS TO VEGAS/FROM VEGAS TO MEMPHIS (490,000).As on CHARTMASTERS (PAGE 13 of 13).The separate ‘studio’ & ‘live’ is muddy. The original 1969-70 charted success (12 on Billboard),found BOTH LPS charting (lower-as ELVIS IN PERSON (BILLBOARD 183) CHARTMASTERS (1,025,000) & BACK IN MEMPHIS (BILLBOARD 80) CHARTMASTERS (175,000) ,in the last half of 1970-as REISSUED LP PRODUCT. This may have (even) confused Whitburn’s Billboard 200?This LP was also a huge C&W charted item, as a double entity. As ‘live’/’studio’ (2) or an single issues ,the physical sales of EACH just… Read more »

Petri Makkonen

I would rate RCA Victor’s “Elvis’ Christmas Album” from 1957 and RCA Camden’s “Elvis’ Christmas Album” from 1970 as two separate albums, because while 8 songs out of 10 were same on both albums, the 1970 release has “If Every Day Was Like Christmas” and “Mama Liked the Roses” songs which were not even recorded in 1957.

Anthony Britch

I dont see anywhere in the Elvis articles where its noted that RIAA certification of 1 million is units not copies shipped. up to 1974 a GOLD LP is when sales reached $1 million of the wholesale price. That is 33% of $3.98 (1956-1970, 1970-1974 an LP was $4.98). $1 million was equal to about 760,000 copies and 608,000 copies at $4.98. after 1974 a GOLD LP had to sell $1 million AND 500,000 copies. Platinum was introduced in 1975. An LP had to sell $2,000,000 at the wholesale price (1975 LPs increased to $5.98 and $6.98) AND a minimum… Read more »

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