Dido is back! I can already hear many teenagers asking “Dido who?”. For people like me who are old enough to have been listening to music at the start of the 00s though, Dido was almost as inevitable as Adele has been recently. Can the British singer, now 47, register a successful comeback with her 5th album, Still On My Mind, out March 8?
If many American divas flooded the market during the 80s and the 90s, Dido was actually the first global female phenomenon coming from the UK, preceding the likes Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Susan Boyle, and, of course, Adele.
The singer was actually close to the music industry from a young age thanks to her brother, Rollo Armstrong, member of the iconic techno trio Faithless. Dido herself regularly participated into their records from 1995. Her own career took over several years later. In June 1999, No Angel came out in North America, breaking over the main audience in late 2000 when Eminem sampled the single Thank You in his hit Stan. In early 2001, at last the album was released abroad, smashing charts from all over the world. Then, follow up Life For Rent confirmed her success in 2003. After that, we hardly ever heard about her again. So, what happened? Has she still sold well thanks to her fans? Does she target a more specific audience? Has she been flopping completely? Or was she simply in retirement?
As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to relevantly gauge her results. This concept will not only bring you sales information for all Dido‘s albums, physical and download singles, as well as audio and video streaming. In fact, it will also determine their true popularity.
If you are not yet familiar with the CSPC method, below is a nice and short video of explanations. I fully recommend watching it before getting into the sales figures. Of course, if you are a regular visitor feel free to skip the video and get into the numbers directly.
The Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept (CSPC)
There are two ways to understand this revolutionary concept. In the first place, there is this Scribe video posted below. If you are unaware of the CSPC method, you will get the full idea within just a pair of minutes.
If you are a mathematical person, and want to know the full method as well as formulas, you can read the full introduction article.
Now let’s get into the artist’s sales figures in detail in order to apply this concept and define the act’s true popularity!
Dido’s Album Sales
Original Album Sales – Comments
It’s hard to know if we must focus on the super successful first two albums or the wild flops of the following pair. Everything started so well for the singer, with No Angel shifting a stunning 14.46 million units. It did so with especially impressive sales across Europe where it moved more than 7 million copies.
Someway, she managed to reproduce this one-in-a-lifetime success with Life For Rent. The album sold less than its predecessor in the American continent, 3.25 million against 6.46 million, but then did nearly as well elsewhere. In the UK, both records sold just over and just under 3 million units, respectively, making them the biggest back to back smashes since Michael Jackson‘s Thriller and Bad.
When a singer is so big two times in a row, the fan base alone must be enough to generate 25/30% of previous albums’ sales with the new one. That’s what makes Safe Trip Home one of the biggest flops of all-time. It sold less than 10% of the average sales of No Angel and Life For Rent.
The diva tried to recover her audience with Girl Who Got Away in 2013 but results were even worse. It sold a mere 410,000 units worldwide, failing to go even Gold in the UK. As we know the market switched from album sales to downloads to streaming in recent years though. Has she been able to compensate a bit these huge drops thanks to remaining formats?
Dido’s songs sales
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 3 ratio between one album and one physical single.
Dido enjoyed a pair of complete eras during the physical period to sell some records through this format. Of course, the US had mostly given up them already by 2000, just like Canada, Latin America, Asian countries minus Japan and Italy, among other markets. The rest of Europe and Australia still made it possible to shift a million units of a successful single.
That’s exactly what Stan did. The song, a #1 hit in many countries, even sold a whopping 2.41 million copies globally with no US release, breaking the half a million mark in each the UK, Germany, and France.
Her personal singles also did well. Here With Me was a success in most of Europe, moving 810,000 units in total. The era No Angel was pursued with Thank You, a more modest hit in continental Europe, the track got good sales in both the US and the UK to amass a total of 420,000. Hunter closed the era, it was a minor hit in Europe. All You Want was only issued as a limited mini disc in the UK.
In 2002, a new participation into a song of Faithless was for the first time commercially exploited. One Step Too Far went top 10 in the UK but hasn’t done that well elsewhere, selling 140,000 units in total.
White Flag perfectly kicked Life For Rent‘s promotional campaign. The singer was already a well known album seller by then, so many purchased the LP directly. The single still did wonders with its original format, selling 1.17 million copies, already a noteworthy number by late 2003 considering the decreasing market. The title track sold a million less. That was in good part due to the phenomenal sales of the album in its first 3 months of availability, when it shipped from half a million to a million copies per week. From that point, the single format was more and more irrelevant and later singles got barely released, except Don’t Believe In Love in the UK and in Australia.
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 1,5 ratio between one album and one digital single.
What’s maybe the best illustration of her struggles to appeal to consumers of this format is the place of Eminem‘s fueled Stan in her discography. To give a concrete example, Stan as downloaded from the best of Curtain Call and Stan as downloaded from the The Marshall Mathers LP are currently the #1 and #2 best selling Dido songs in German’s iTunes. Another version of the same song is at #4 in her personal ranking. The same songs from her top 2 are currently charting at #23 and #77 on Eminem’s list. That’s wild. Her biggest personal hit there, Thank You, would likely struggle to be Top 100 inside the top songs of the American rapper.
Logically, Stan is her biggest selling download with a healthy 2.92 million copies. It is far and away her top seller everywhere. Then, depending on the market, the runner up will be Thank You (the US, Japan) or White Flag (the UK), or both sold virtually the same (France, Germany, Australia). Their global total is very similar too at 980,000 and 950,000 units, respectively, numbers boosted by their higher pace of sales back in mid-00s.
After this duo of songs, there is another pair with more modest sales. Here With Me stands on 320,000 units while Life For Rent has sold 230,000. Everything else moved fairly irrelevant numbers. The career total of the singer is a mere 6.22 million and that does include the near 3 million sales of Stan.
Streaming is made up of audio and video streams. Our CSPC methodology now includes both to better reflect the real popularity of each track. The main source of data for each avenue is respectively Spotify and YouTube. As detailed in the Fixing Log article, Spotify represents 157 million of the 272 million users of streaming platforms, while YouTube is pretty much the only video platform generating some revenue for the industry. Below is the equivalence set on the aforementioned article:
Audio Stream – 1500 plays equal 1 album unit
Video Stream – 11,750 views equal 1 album unit
Equivalent Albums Sales (EAS) = 272/157 * Spotify streams / 1500 + YouTube views / 11750
With streaming data too we can hardly say Dido has been doing wonders lately. Stan, as everything touched by Eminem, is strong with over 200 million streams on Spotify. Then, both White Flag and Thank You are equally decent performers with over 100 million streams each on both Spotify and YouTube. I say decent because while these numbers are consistent, they are pretty in line with every good-sized pop hit from early 00s, and much under the biggest tracks from these years which are now more and more numerous over 500 million streams on both platforms.
Behind these songs numbers go down quickly. Here with Me has 61,000 EAS from streams, while Life For Rent stands on 36,000 EAS. At #6 is the more surprising Christmas Day, which tops No Freedom, the lead single from 2013’s Girl Who Got Away. With only 11-13 million streams on both platforms, it performed very badly for a song which came out when streaming was already booming.
There is as many as 3 songs from her new album already available to stream (see below for comprehensive list), but none of them hits even 2 million streams on Spotify. The new era is already looking very bad.
Full catalog breakdown
If you are familiar with the artist’s catalog and want to check details of each and every song, you can access to all of them right here.
Dido’s compilations 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.
The distribution process
How to understand this table? In the example of Greatest Hits, these figures mean it sold 220,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 740,814 equivalent album sales from streams of all types.
The second part on the right of the table shows how many equivalent streams are coming from each original album, plus the share it represents on the overall package. Thus, streaming figures tell us songs from the No Angel album are responsible for 27% of the Greatest Hits track list attractiveness. This means it generated 60,000 of its 220,000 album sales and so forth for the other records. We then apply this process to all compilations present on the table.
Full Length related records Sales – Summary
Here is the most underestimated indicator of an album’s success – the amount of compilation sales of all kinds it generated. Due to the dependency of sales of the original studio albums on these releases, they are a key piece of the jigsaw.
Total Album (all types) Sales per Country
Please note country-specific numbers may miss sales of a few minor releases, although totals are complete.
Dido Career CSPC Results
So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album by Dido achieved? Well, at this point we hardly need to add up all of the figures defined in this article!
Albums CSPC results
In the following table, all categories display figures that way, e.g. in equivalent album sales. For example, singles from Metallica released in digital format sold the equivalent of 221,000 albums – 1,470,000 downloads with a 10 to 1,5 weighting.
As a reminder:
- Studio Album: sales of the original album
- Other Releases: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album
- Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (ratio 3/10)
- Download Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10)
- Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500 for Audio stream and 1/11750 for Video stream)
The career of Dido is exactly one of these “what if?” kind of careers. What if she hadn’t bomb completely with her third album? What if she had issued it earlier, say in 2005, when her popularity was still high?
Obviously, we will never know and that’s why we go through this table with some frustration. Disastrous sales of her recent efforts let us a bad taste after the first two albums’ smashes.
And they really smashed. Even with the lack of ongoing appeal, No Angel closes at 15.5 million units while Life For Rent follows at 11.5 million. That’s 27 million with her first two records. Both rank very high among the top selling albums of their respective year.
There is no need to even comment numbers of Safe Trip Home and Girl Who Got Away. Their streams are also awfully low, so they aren’t going to move up anytime soon.
In total equivalent album sales so far Dido still breaks the 30 million mark. If her hey-days seem long gone, her past success is at least easily enough to secure her a healthy living for the rest of her life and perhaps that’s what matters the most.
Singles CSPC results
The list is compiled in album equivalent sales generated by each song. Therefore, these figures are not merged units of singles formats. Instead, it includes weighted sales of the song’s physical single, download, ringtone and streaming as well as its share among sales of all albums on which it is featured.
1. 1999 – Dido – Thank You [No Angel] – 8,550,000
2. 2003 – Dido – White Flag [Life for Rent] – 7,400,000
3. 1999 – Dido – Here with Me [No Angel] – 4,190,000
4. 2003 – Dido – Life for Rent [Life for Rent] – 1,860,000
5. 2000 – Eminem ft. Dido – Stan [Orphan] – 1,530,000
If you feel inspired by this list, we just created this CSPC Dido playlist on Spotify!
Thanks to our new ASR (Artist Success Rating) concept, we know that her sales represent 15.6 million times the purchase of her entire discography. Coupled with their total sales, it translates into an ASR score of 123. This puts her tied with Jennifer Lopez, and just above James Blunt and Kelly Clarkson. The ranking of all artists studied so far is available too at this link.
Records & Achievements
- At 15,474,000 EAS, No Angel is the 9th most successful album from 1999.
- At 11,540,000 EAS, Life For Rent is the 7th most successful album from 2003.
- At 3,053,000 pure sales, No Angel was the 2nd best selling album of the 00s in the UK.
- At 2,865,000 pure sales, Life For Rent was the 7th best selling album of the 00s in the UK.
- At 400,351 pure sales in its first week, Life For Rent was the fastest selling female album of all-time in the UK (topped in 2009).
- At 1 year, 5 months and 3 days, No Angel remains the third fastest foreign female album ever to go Diamond in France, and the fastest from the last 20 years.
NB: EAS means Equivalent Album Sales.
You may be interested in…
… best-selling artists, albums, and singles
To improve your navigation we created several amazing cross-artists lists posted inside the CSPC: Data Collector article. Click on it to see the full listing of all CSPC results compiled so far!
… similar artists
To put figures from this article into perspective, click on the images below to reach career breakdowns of similar artists:
As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!