CSPC: Prince Popularity Analysis

Purple Rain

Full Length related record Sales

It sounds fairly logical to add together weighted sales of one era – studio album, physical singles, downloads, streams – to get the full picture of an album’s popularity. For older releases though, they also generate sales of various live, music videos and compilation albums.

All those packaging-only records do not create value, they exploit the value originating from the parent studio album of each of its tracks instead. Inevitably, when such compilations are issued, this downgrades catalog sales of the original LP. Thus, to perfectly gauge the worth of these releases, we need to re-assign sales proportionally to its contribution of all the compilations which feature its songs. The following table explains this method.

Part 1 – Compilations 1993-1996


How to understand this table? If you check this example, these figures mean The Hits 1 sold 4,080,000 units worldwide. Then, the second statistics column means streams of all the songs included on this package add for 215,154 EAS.

The second part at the right of the table shows how many streams are coming from each original album as well as the share they represent. Thus, streaming figures tell us Purple Rain songs are responsible for 45% of the Hits 1 tracklist attractiveness. In other words, it generated 1,829,000 of its 4,080,000 album sales. Eventually, we apply this methodology to all compilations.

Sets The Hits 1 and The Hits 2 must be some of the weirdest compilations ever released. They do not follow a specific theme nor the timeline of the artist career. For example, his two biggest hits from Purple Rain, When Doves Cry and the title track, belong to Hits 1 and Hits 2, respectively. A third package which merged both compilations plus a CD of B-Sides also came out at the same time, spreading sales over multiple releases. While their individual numbers do not look impressive for primary compilations of one of the biggest 80s star, they moved well past 10 million copies collectively.

In terms of sales distribution we can see that the appeal of these sets was largely fueled from material issued in albums going from 1999 to Sign ‘O’ The Times, the golden period of the artist.

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So if I get this right, Purple Rain is about 30 percent of his sales/popularity? That’s far more even than I would have thought- he had a very consistent career ala a Bruce Springsteen.


Not really, he only had a decade or so of multi-million selling albums while Springsteen was still having 2-million selling albums 40 years into his career… And yes, Purple Rain was way, WAY bigger than any other Prince album, so I don’t think “consistent” is the word you’re looking for 😉


the huge amount of albums he released created a sale that masks the disparity of this record. he released practically 1 album a year, which in the 80s/90s, however weak it was, could easily make 1 million.


He was such a great musician. 🙁

Did you include A Love Bizarre with Sheila E? I can’t find it anywhere.
He’s uncredited on it but he sings the entire song with her.
It was a Top 15 hit in the US and a Top 5 hit in Germany.


Prince was an outstanding and highly creative artist.


On page 63, titled “BONUS: Total Album (all types) Sales per Country”, what are all the albums types? If you don’t mind me asking.


MJD and the rest. Sorry I got carried away. I will not reply to your responses anymore to give it a rest.


I didn’t expect him to sell more than 100 pure album sales. That’s impressive however I still think he is overrated.

There are MORE MALE ARTISTS who haven’t been studied yet but who have sold better than Prince.


Literally how on earth is Prince overrated?


He is overrated because a lot of people is saying he is a legend. I know we have different standards but using the word “legend” must be applicable at least worldwide. I mean in terms of album sales, he has it but did he really have a popular worldwide hit single? I believe “Purple Rain” is unheard in most places in Asia. Also, do a lot of people around the world know him? That’s my opinion with Aretha Franklin too. People are telling she is the greatest female singer without any basis and that she is a legend which is… Read more »


I agree


I want to stress my comment about Prince having an impressive pure album sales. Impressive in a sense that I did not expect him to reach the 100 million pure album sales figure. But comparing his figures (even his total EAS) to other music artists, especially his fellow solo male music artists, it’s not really an impressive, and most especially not an extraordinary feat. Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Phil Collins have done better than him either in pure album sales or total eas. And prolly more male music artists to come. If Prince… Read more »


Celine is not a male singer. We have to categorized them because we simply cannot really compare the success of male singers to female singers and to bands/groups. And fine if we will include male singers. But who has the top-selling single so far? Whose songs are still being played on radio, tv, etc. Who revived the economy of Las Vegas? Look at Mariah, she’s still dominating every Xmas season. and both artists songs are usually being performed on singing competitions. Celine is not in the top 10 of all time but she has done extraordinary achievements. Besides, she’s still… Read more »


Talking about Aretha, my dear RLAAMJR, You are completely ignoring How The music industry worked in Aretha’s Peak (60’s and 70’s). Female Artists had much more troubles to face than male Artists. Think now about a Black woman in 60’s/70’s. What Aretha achieved is beyond incredible. She sold millions and millions records in a age where she was in complete disadvantage. She influenced all of The New generation and keep doing This, includes Celine.

You analyse the situations with no profundity and bring the history in the way that suits you. Think more, please.


Hi MJD, Purple Rain album “fastest-selling” album ever but again what matters is how much did the album sold in total and how well will it place against other top-selling albums of other music artists. Aretha having 73 singles in Hot 100 is not really impressive because most of them didn’t really become a hit, especially worldwide. And yes, Celine may have a poorer Hot 100 records and I could say it’s because she’s not American which Aretha is, but despite of that, Celine still sold more albums than Aretha even in the USA only and Celine songs are more… Read more »


Whitney and MJ also debuted in Prince’s era and were much more successful than him commercially. And you say it was easy to sell albums in the 90s? It was very hard, few females got multiple 10 million albums in the US, Celine got two. You don’t need to discredit her. Prince released 33 albums, but Celine outsold him by over 60 million. You just can’t deny she was more successful than him. 60 million is a lot!!! Commercially, Celine is a step above Prince. He did release albums even if you say he left, which is complete BS. He… Read more »


It’s funny how you discredited basically a major artists but at the same time try so hard to convince all of us that Celine Dion is the best thing on earth. Stop, buddy… Just stop!!! As already was said, Prince is a icon. He worked in a different way of the Pop icons and managed to sell a lot. He was a genius, a great performer, songwriter, producer, played several instruments and made albums by himself. And he influenced uncountable artists. We could do the same that you always do and desvalue Celine Dion’s career. Starting with the fact she… Read more »


I never mentioned Celine on my comment but go ahead if you think that will help you win the argument. Celine did write some lines one some of her songs. Also, they are called music artists, not songwriters, etc. Again, they are called music artists, not songwriters, guitarists, etc. Remember that. And I’m going to play your game. Prince is indeed multi-talented but despite of that, he still did not succeed as high as Celine did. For me, Celine is more multi-talented because she knows how to deal with other people that’s why she is succeeding with her endeavors. Celine… Read more »


Really MJ??

62 million is a few million?? Don’t be so biased.

She destroyed him commercially. It’s written in the numbers. Prince could have released 100 albums in the 90s,and he still would have sold less.

This has nothing to do with talent or artistry.


IMO and certainly from a UK perspective, I’d say Prince is more well known, more recognisable and more loved than Celine. Celine may have sold more, but Prince is definitely the one that is thought of and seen as an icon & star, in the UK. I’d also say his most popular songs have fared better over time and continue to be more well known and loved by the UK public, tracks such as 1999, Kiss, Purple Rain, When Doves Cry, Raspberry Beret, Little Red Corvette etc. Most of Princes work over the last 20 or so years, has probably… Read more »


I know It’s not just about album and single sales but sales is one of the good bases to know if a music artists is more well-known or not. So i cannot agree with you.


In the UK, Prince was already regarded as the cooler version of Michael Jackson.

Timothy Pernell

If he’s overrated, then so is rock and roll. You should have sat there and ate your food.

Brad Harris

Overrated? He was the most talented musician to have ever walked this planet. It wasn’t even close. There isn’t one musician who would ever be crazy enough to go head to head against him. Prince didn’t write songs just to be hits. He wrote songs to push the envelope. He wrote songs to get off on mentally. When he needed a hit, he wrote a hit. And if you combine the business side as well then it turns into a complete butt kicking. One of the first artists to use the internet, left a big label to go independent, got… Read more »


Wow, his streaming numbers show that he is an artist who was once big but hasn’t transitioned to the new age. The 280k in equivalent streams from Purple Rain isn’t bad but the rest of his discography makes him look like a one-album wonder. Terrible numbers. His case kinda reminds me of Janet Jackson; both are terrible streamers.


Oh okay thanks for the info, sorry if you mentioned it in your article and I missed it, I didn’t have a chance to read through everything.