Michael Jackson’s global heatmap

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Since the explosion of Thriller way back in 1983, Michael Jackson has been regarded as the definitive reference in terms of global superstardom. Even huge worldwide singers have better markets than others though. So, where does the king of pop perform the best? And the worst?

The method

In order to identify on which countries Jackson performed well, the way to go is to look at data from various top sellers and compare his own results with theirs. Thus, we collected market by market YouTube statistics of 16 major artists including the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Madonna, and Queen. The sample also includes a various recent artists among which AdeleBeyoncéBritney Spears, and Eminem.

As stated inside the article Learn how to exploit YouTube Insights, the absolute number of views is irrelevant. Depending on your target audience and its YouTube usage habits, you will have very different results. Relative results do matter though. That’s why rather than comparing views numbers, we compare the share of views coming from each market for all these artists. For example, both the Beatles and Queen have over 1,6 million monthly views in Japan. Since Queen outperform the Beatles by 3 to 1 globally, that means Japan is a market 3 times more relevant for the Beatles. In conclusion, even if both have similar views there, the latter group is relatively speaking bigger there.

Once we defined the strength of each market for scale artists, we calculate their averages. To continue with our example, our scale artists register 6,75% of their global streams in Japan. Jackson‘s count there stands at 8,52%, it means the relevance of this market is 126% (8,52%/6,75%) as high for her as for the others.


The results

Michael Jackson biggest markets by values

The greenest a country is, the best Jackson performed in comparison to the scale artists. On yellow ones, he is on par with the average. Countries in orange represent weaker performances, the most red they get, the most he underperforms. Countries in white fail to appear among his personal Top 100 markets on YouTube.

We aren’t done still. An artist can record a huge chunk of his views in a few countries only, say in the US. Their comparative shares in remaining countries would then underperform massively reference values. This issue is known for years in the world of statisticians. A very efficient way to avoid these outliers consists in comparing rankings instead of raw values. As a result, instead of saying that Jackson outperforms the scale by 1.88 to 1 in Romania, we will say that Romania is the country of rank 1, the one where he performs the best relatively speaking.

Michael Jackson biggest markets by rank

The greenest a country is, the highest it is among Jackson‘s top markets and so on until red markets.

The analysis

So far, we published 10 global heatmaps analysis of very different artists, going from Elvis Presley to BTS. We identified mainly two kind of profiles. Old school stars, with a success more focused over English-speaking countries, Scandinavia plus regions with a music industry developed for more time like occidental Europe and Japan. Then, younger artists saw their performance in Latin America and Asia shine since they competed with acts who weren’t promoted there back in their day. Also, all acts were dominant in some regions and weaker in others, with an elasticity often exceeding 10 to 1 between the best and the worst markets.

The picture is completely different with Jackson, his heatmap looks like nothing else. He has got both greener and redder countries in every continent. It’s impossible to really tell where he dominates. His top 3 performers are Romania, from Europe, Dominican Republic, from America, and Cambodia, from Asia. They have different languages and completely different cultures, same for Bangladesh following at the #4 position.

Even more stunning is their strength. They only exceed the average by 55-60%, except Romania which is a bit higher. These are very low tops. All artists studied so far had their top markets with a strength over 2, meaning they topped scale acts by 100% or more. In the other side of the spectrum, all artists had markets strongly underperforming our reference. Jackson has none. His worst country, Ireland, still records 54% of views of other acts in that same market proportionally speaking. He has 94 out of his 100 listed markets that top 72% of the average, meaning his truly bad ones still compete with standards of others. They do in relative terms. In absolute terms, even Ireland, his last market, records a huge 422,000 monthly views, more than 3 times the total of Meat Loaf, the best performer from our database in Ireland proportionally speaking.

Basically, Jackson is massive everywhere. He performs so well in every area that all markets are close to the average share of scale artists, he has no weak point. His 2018 total of views tops by nearly 10% scores of the Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Madonna… combined. That’s why he doesn’t own countries that have over the top results, because there is very little room for improvement in comparison to the others.

We can still point out huge performances in France at #6, easily the highest country with a developed music industry. India and Russia hit the top 10 too. He does wonders in various Latin America countries, including Brazil that appears at #15. Black markets still support him very well with 7 sub-Saharan countries making the list.

In the other side, his huge all-around strength conclude on some really priceless details. Among others, some countries where he got the highest selling international album of all-time like Mexico and the Netherlands still can’t make his personal Top 50. In Canada too, Thriller is the best selling album ever and his success is out of question, nevertheless it ranks at #92 among his top places. Similarly, the UK, where the singer is up to nothing less than 26 million pure album sales, appears to be by far his weakest market among the big ones, only #96 overall with a strength 33% below the scale.

When countries where you broke various sales records happen to be your weakest out of all, taking you as a reference for global success sounds like a sensible thing to do.

If you are more of a number guy, below is the list of countries with both values and ranks.

Michael Jackson biggest markets list


Don’t miss similar studies on these superstars…

Eminem album salesMadonna - True BlueElvis Presley album sales

Beyonce - Dangerously In LovePrince Purple RainBritney Spears album sales

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Jon Jenkins

As a Canadian MJ fan…my country’s results are not surprising, unfortunately. There’s a stigma on him, I know many people who like his music but are afraid to admit it.

Though, I am surprise to see the United Kingdom even lower, there have always been very vocal MJ fans there, and he was going to launch This Is It there, after all.


So this basically shows Artists who are more streamed now. Of course Michael Jackson, who died 10 years ago will be one of the more streamed by everybody since playlists are the main responsible for the majority of streams and he is one with the most adds for a long time. Everybody loves you and misses you once you’re just dead, especially someone that had so much success while alive. Michael died when streaming was kicking out. This chart only shows that and how dead people are most of all missed and streamed because of it. Unfortunately you do miss… Read more »


Whitney Houston died a few years ago. And for sure her Youtube views are not even close to Michael Jackson. In fact if it wasnt for the re release of “Higher Love” which is representing 20% of her views, she will be a lot lower than MJ. She would even be lower than any of the 80s/90s big pop act. So ur comment are pure delusion.


jealousy ?? or is it hatred?


We really don’t need any study to know that MJ is the most famous artist of all time with or without the high numbers. Also alot of legends died after MJ and they’re not near his numbers like Whitney houston, Prince, Gorge Michael, David Bowie and many more

Dan Maginnisscorpion667

What counts as a Developed Music Industry?


I guess its mostly from developed nation. The non developed nations market was so small back in the 60s, 70s that many labels did not make large scale promotions there, which explains why they have larger views from developed country.


I don’t know how this turned into a popularity contest between Michael, Madonna, or anyone else. The heat map is a representation of their global YouTube views that highlight their most popular markets and then uses a scale to compare the results to similar artists. With that being said, it’s obvious MJ is still one of the most popular artists ever. Even with all the scrutiny and bad press, his views are comparable with current acts like Taylor, Bey, Adele, and Rihanna. That’s not the case for Madonna. He outsold her even without the boost he received after he died.… Read more »


First of all his views are not comparable to Rihanna. And Beyonce is leading him too by quite a huge margin. Secondly, I agree with you. Somebody here first speaks of Madonna as if she was larger than Michael then he talks about Celine Dion and Mariah Carey too. And then somebody else speaks about queen. I never thought that other artist fans hated MJ this much.


Thanks for the co-sign, at least in part. It’s a fact none of those artists are bigger than Mike. That’s easily proven by sales, TV ratings, etc. But I’m not wrong about YouTube. Current artists have a higher overall viewing rate which makes sense. But if you look at their views between releases (almost like catalogue sales) you’ll understand what I mean. Most of their channels aren’t viewed much more than his unless they have new music. He’s always on the YouTube top artists chart just like he’s on the Billboard 200. If you look at YouTube stats for the… Read more »