Spotlight on Elvis Presley’s hidden sales

CCCP USSR

State-owned labels

We tend to forget our geography lessons too quickly. Until the fall of the former USSR and the wall of Berlin, there was various state-owned labels in Eastern Europe that used to control what was coming out or not. They often used compilations that are completely unknown from the rest of the world. One of the most famous examples is no doubt Beatles‘ 1986 compilation A Taste Of Honey which shipped 300,000 units upon release in USSR. It was their first legal album ever released there.

Presley also had his share of state-owned records. Here they are!

Bulgaria – Balkanton

The most collected record from the state owned label Balkanton is Michael Jackson‘s Thriller with 1,162 owners across 18 versions. Presley does extremely well there too. His Bulgarian-only compilations Elvis from 1985 and Rock-And-Roll from 1986 are among the Top 10 most owned foreign albums from this country with respectively 682 and 566 users collecting them. While we lack data about Bulgaria to set up highly reliable processes, over 500 owners of an LP from the 80s make both of them very likely 6-digits sellers in this country.

Czechoslovakia – Opus / Supraphon

The discography of Presley in Czechoslovakia was made of 2 records Pure Gold and Promised Land, from 1978 and 1980, respectively. With 50 and 40 owners a piece, they are not huge sellers there, which is consistent with his low popularity in this market as shown by our global heatmap. Jackson‘s Thriller which shipped 100,000 units by 1985, has 255 owners up to date from its Supraphon versions. Surprisingly, the most owned record from this country is a compilation of James Brown.

East Germany / GDR – Amiga label

The only official Presley release in East Germany was a compilation titled Elvis in 1978. With 489 owners it is no fluke. The top performer at Discogs from the AMIGA label is once again Jackson‘s Thriller at 1,434. Applying the same ratio than standard German releases suggests around 100,000 sales for Elvis.

Hungary – Pepita

The state label from Hungary never issued Presley recordings. Instead, the top 3 best performing foreign albums there are A Hard Day’s Night (1981, 373 owners) and Please Please Me (1982, 333) by the Beatles and the Best of Pink Floyd (1983, 263).

USSR – Melodiya

Along with some music clubs, USSR sales must be one of the biggest black boxes of the music industry. The Melodiya label used to be massive. The only label in existence during the era of the USSR, it grossed over $200 million per year.

I already mentioned A Taste of Honey by the Beatles, which shipped 300,000 units upon release and sold strongly for 4 years. With sales anywhere from half a million units to a million, it has an immense 2,096 owners. Led Zeppelin actually outperform them with the local compilation Stairway to Heaven at 2,285.

Guess what? Presley also got his monster selling compilation in the USSR. The 1988 best of That’s All Right has 885 owners and likely as many as 300,000 purchasers.

Yugoslavia – Jugoton

Unlike remaining state-owned labels, Jugoton used to drop many international albums. Presley himself got more than 50 distinct albums issued there, combining for nearly 800 owners. Our favorite scale, Thriller, once again among the most owned albums in the country, has 479 owners from Yugoslavia where it had shipped 112,000 units by 1984, which sets the mark on over 200,000 for Presley in this market.

Conclusion

With this article, the discography of Elvis Presley has no more secrets for you. Same for loopholes and state-owned labels. While evidencing these albums, we completed our all-around study of the King’s career. Next up: his CSPC article with all results. Stay tuned!

 

Sources: Discogs, Chartmasters.org, Memphis Recording Service, Billboard, Elvisoncd, Jorgensen, Agora SA, Le Monde, OCC, BPI, Not Now Music, RPM, SNEP.

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Michael

If u really dont trust this site. Go to other site that makes u happy. Why are u wasting so much time here. In fact even better, go and make ur own website with ur own estimates since u r so good at it.

Tony

Sorry but you bored me 30 odd days ago with this. The guys at Chartmasters do a wonderfull job and are making a real difference to the world of the most accurate data on record sales, far better than the old unreliable and grossly over estimated sales , mainly coming out of the USA and especially on some of the so called big acts like Elvis, The Beatles, Led Zepelin , Madonna and Pink Floyd. Let’s all just be greatfull that Chartmasters team are doing, which is far far better than what we had before. You are obviously a big… Read more »

Martin

Maybe he has bored you, but a lot of what he says is relevant and does bring up questions that should be looked at. He obviously is a big Elvis fan, but he seems more concerned about accuracy/innaccuracy, than being hurt because the figures are not as high as some of the ludicrous claims made.

“So called big acts”. Stop talking shit, none of those acts are so called big acts, they are 5 of the 10 biggest acts ever!

Tommy

Why not we all have the right to our opinions, one of the few things we have left!

borderwolf

Hi! Talkin’ about blockbusters…: how about Portugal, Greece, Japan and South Africa?

borderwolf

Both, if possible! Elvis and international acts, NOT locals!

borderwolf

Ok, just Elvis and Michael jackson!
🙂

Lance

Moved comment to CSPC article.

Al

Discogs is really sheding a light on the industry’s more “unknown” territories. I was not aware that countries under the iron curtain could even buy western music legally. And what comes as an even bigger shock is that the numbers are actually quite big. If western albums were able to sell hundreds of thousands of copies in the Soviet Union it makes me wonder what numbers local stars (probably favoured by the state as well) could do.

Dan

I was born in the USSR, i remember my dad had the entire Beatles catalog on vinyl.
And i second the curiosity about local artists, I’d love to know how many records Alla Pugacheva, or Aria sold.

Jazmine

I think its about time for his results already. Or if his is not ready. Its time for new updates on existing artist studies or new study on new artis. Its getting kinda boring.

Tom Riise

I think the Elvis Presley analysis will be uploaded this weekend, at least that’s
what i’m hoping for.

Jake

He said this week so it can be even today.

Donald Miller

This isn’t really a site for fair-weather fans and those who only care about their favorite acts.

Nathan

Well, he did discover a new formula to add to everything he’s already doing with the “hidden sales” Plus he made a comment how Elvis is coming with quite a bit more coming quickly after that, so I’m thinking after Elvis, we are going to see a handful of acts pretty quickly

borderwolf

MJD,
this is probably the first of a long list of questions:
you say that Elv1s 30 # 1 Hits and The Essential Collection sold over 75.000 units each, but the first has 19 owners, the second 6 owners.
And I don’t understand that….
🙂

borderwolf

Argentina!

borderwolf

Thanks! I’m trying to understand the mechanism! And of course I’m tryng to applicate it to Neil Young. Beginning with Harvest, not my favorite album, but his bestseller. Adding all the LP (and only the LP) releases in Canada and in comparison with your Elvis examples in Canadian Blockbusters, we have a total amount of 1.000.000/1.200.000. I’m wrong? The figure seems really high! But probably I’m wrong something…

borderwolf

2972 owners, for the Harvest LPs in Canada

Moment4Life

I respect Elvis and all but I think Nicki Minaj is a little bit more famous and deserves to have all these articles on her before him.

Can’t wait until Elvis month(s) is over so we can get Nicki’s 🙂

Dan

I hope it’s professional trolling.

Tommy

Never heard of nicki Minaj, and she’s more famous than Elvis, that’s were laughable

Dan

Hi MJD. These articles make me wonder – with all these new techniques to evaluate sales, (like the revolution brought by Discogs), does this means all previously studied artists (like Queen, Rolling Stones etc.) have black holes and undiscovered sales to uncover?

Dan

Thanks for the detailed answer!

Emiliano

YOU ARE ALIVE!?!?
I missed you

RLAAMJR.

Everyone, please stop with this kind of joke. It isn’t funny.

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