Metallica’s albums and songs sales

Metallica total sales

From the Four Horsemen to the Metal Kings, the road has been very long for rock legends Metallica. Currently in the final phase of their 159-dates WorldWired Tour, the band proved with their last album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct that they remain hugely popular. Let’s review their impressive numbers from the very start up to date.

Commercially speaking, Metallica‘s career is especially remarkable for their huge back catalogue sales since the 90s. Most things converged in their favor and allowed the American group to become one of the biggest sellers in the entire world. In fact, the band never put a compilation on the market, making it an imperative for their fans and casual listeners to buy multiple studio albums. Additionally, they still get big airplay, even more so in North America. Lastly, they are an absolute reference for the metal world, meaning that any teenager who wants to get into this music genre will most likely do so by buying one of their LPs. These factors, in combination with the big market numbers of the 90s, shot Metallica‘s sales through the roof.

It’s still insanely huge to continue to hit #1 with massive sales with every new album 36 years after they issued their debut album, 1983’s Kill ‘Em All. Their longevity is brilliant and even flops like St. Anger and Lulu, which alienated a good part of their entire fanbase, haven’t prevent them from continuing to comeback and be successful once again. How does this stack in terms of cumulative sales up to date?

As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to relevantly gauge their results. This concept will not only bring you sales information for all Metallicas 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!

 

Metallica’s Album Sales

CSPC Metallica Album sales breakdowns

Original Album Sales – Comments

Metallica album sales list

Well, what can we say? A total of 121 million album sales across 11 records, some 11 million per release, with albums spread over 4 decades. The consistency of Metallica‘s sales are mind blowing.

It took time for Kill ‘Em All to rack up a million. It’s now on 8.5 million and counting. The same scenario happened for each of their first 4 albums, which sold a few at first, although with a growing impact, but ended up as best sellers thanks to many years of lasting appeal.

The mainstream success of Metallica in 1991 obviously boosted their catalog sales, but the fact that nearly 30 years later they are still going strong shows that there is more to that. Metal fans, and also a good chunk of rock fans in general, simply love these early records. They are always featured very high in best Metal albums ever lists, especially Master Of Puppets which often out-ranks even Metallica. This latter LP is also an evergreen seller with a total now easily over the 30 million threshold.

The true-false double album Load and Reload weren’t as successful, nor commercially neither critically, but still combine for over 20 million pure album sales. Standards of the band are so high that even St. Anger, widely regarded as a major failure, still sold 5 million units, while a compilation of covers sold 6.45 million.

In spite of the broken momentum and the decreasing album market Death Magnetic managed to outsell its predecessor at 5.33 million. Then, once everyone stopped purchasing physical records because of streaming, Metallica made a flashy comeback with the 3.14 million selling album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct.

 

Metallica’s songs sales

Physical singles

Physical Singles

Metallica physical singlesAs a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 3 ratio between one album and one physical single and 10 to 5 ratio between one album and one EP of 4 to 5 tracks, while 6+ tracks EPs are weighted on par with albums.

Hard Rock and Metal bands are hardly known for their physical singles sales. Metallica did sell its share of Maxi singles, EPs, and collectors of every kind, on top of traditional mainstream singles during the 90s.

Singles from the first 3 albums charted virtually nowhere. They quickly gained a cult following though and many went on to look after them even various years later. The best example is Creeping Death which went Gold in the UK for 200,000 units shipped without ever entering the singles chart thanks to 5 years of continuous sales.

Then came One, the first single to be issued in a more usual way, with a video clip and a single widely available in the US and the UK. It sold nearly a million, including more than half in the former country. The song was reissued under 2 versions in 1993/1994, one for the US the other for the rest of the world, adding 260,000 new sales.

In-between, singles from Metallica got successful. Enter Sandman quickly shipped 500,000 units in the US and went on to sell twice that number thanks to 8 months inside the Top 75 sales chart in spite of never making the Top 10 of the Hot 100. The song also sold a bit here and there abroad but without the general public impact it had in the US, ultimately shifting 1.39 million globally. Nothing Else Matters failed to go Gold in the band’s homeland but did better in Europe, hitting 1 million worldwide. The third big hit of the era, The Unforgiven, came close too, even if it stopped its way on 810,000 sales. In 1999, Nothing Else Matters was released a second time under its symphonic version. It was a smash in central and northern Europe, moving 420,000 copies. Both Wherever I May Roam and Sad But True also sold relevant numbers.

Until It Sleeps was heavily anticipated as the first new single to come out after the massive Metallica era and thus shot directly to #10 in the US. It charted inside the Top 5 or even at #1 in multiple countries, but hasn’t got the same legs as previous singles, selling just over 1 million when all was said and done.

From that point, the fanbase of Metallica was incredibly big while the mainstream impact of their new singles was fairly limited. As a result, most of their singles got very similar runs on charts with high debuts and fast drops, as well as similar final sales. Hero Of the Day, The Memory Remains and The Unforgiven II all sold around half a million copies. Then, King Nothing in the US and Fuel, Turn The Page, Whiskey In The Jar, I Disappear, and St. Anger abroad were all equally successful but since they have been released only in one side of the Atlantic, their global sales are lower, in the 140,000-210,000 units range per title.

The disappointment caused by St. Anger led some fans to step back. The decreasing number of collectors is visible in their sales. Frantic sold 100,000 units, then The Unnamed Feeling 80,000, etc. During these 1996-2004 years of heavy release schedule for the band, nearly all singles were also issued as 7/8 tracks double EPs in Japan, selling a few thousands each.

In recent years, the physical singles market disappeared. Death Magnetic extracts have been issued in several countries still but sales were already very low. Lately, a few specific products popped up for Record Store Day or Black Friday like Lords Of Summer and No Life ‘Till Leather.

All told, the band moved a respectable 10.8 million singles. They are worth 4,643,000 albums, nearly 0.43 per singles. This higher than usual conversion rate is obtained thanks to their numerous singles which were effectively EPs rather than traditional 2-tracks singles.

 

 

Download music iTunes Amazon Google Melon

Digital Songs

Metallica digital singles salesAs a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 1,5 ratio between one album and one digital single.

Metallica have been such a force in selling albums for so long that one could expect the public to not be interested by their stand-alone tracks. Their downloads and ringtones figures show that the format isn’t selected by consumers but instead dictated by labels. People have bought their albums in huge quantities because there was no compilation available. Once they’ve got the choice, tons went on to download their biggest hits.

And that’s why each of their first 5 albums continued to sell so well, because they all contain hits. From Kill ‘Em All, the biggest asset is Seek & Destroy, a track up to 930,000 digital sales. The Four Horsemen, the song that gave this nickname to the band, follows with 390,000 units. Former single Jump In The Fire is now nowhere near as popular as several album cuts. In total, the LP’s songs moved 1.66 million units.

That’s a healthy number, but still each of the following 4 albums did better, just like they previously sold more pure units throughout the 90s. Ride The Lightning impressively records a pair of million sellers. They are Fade To Black and For Whom the Bell Tolls, two classic tracks of the band. The latter is even closing in 2 million sales. The title track at 660,000 and Creeping Death at 380,000 still receive a large amount of love too.

Speaking about title tracks, the one of Master Of Puppets, moved from cult to mass appeal through years with a solid 1.57 million sales. That’s more than countless of former Hot 100 #1 hits. Both Welcome Home and Battery top 600,000.

…And Justice For All appears to be less consistent than its predecessors. It has their biggest 80s hit yet. One, which is now over 3 million combined sales in the US, is up to 3.83 million globally. It’s worth noting that most of their 80s songs enjoy a significant part of their digital sales in the US, a situation that is different for later releases. Remaining tracks from the 1988 LP don’t add that much, slightly more than half a million in total.

Expectedly, the big one is Metallica. Enter Sandman is the leader thanks to its near 4.5 million US sales out of a 6 million total. It’s only one of the 3 songs from the album which feature more often than not inside iTunes’ extended Top 1500. The other two are Nothing Else Matters and The Unforgiven, which post 4 million and 2.3 million global sales, respectively. Here is an interesting point about Metallica: they do not have the same signature song everywhere. In fact, while Enter Sandman wins hands down in the US and in Japan, Nothing Else Matters is way bigger in Germany, Italy, France, Brazil, Argentina, among others. Music fans from the UK, Australia, and South Korea have yet to decide which one of these two they prefer.

There is more on Metallica as both Sad But True and Wherever I May Roam easily top a million sales. Album cuts are also all fairly strong with sales averaging 260,000 units for 7 songs. Incredibly, that’s more than the 220,000 units sold by Until It Sleeps, former much hyped lead single of Load which got the band’s highest peak on singles chart of most countries. The general public believes there isn’t that much to remember from this album with no track selling more than 230,000 copies.

ReLoad wasn’t that much more praised by critics either but at least it contains one track widely popular to this day, Fuel. The 3rd and last single of the era back then, it was ironically the only one to miss completely the US Hot 100 ranking. Time changed its status and now it’s a million selling digital song globally, with a large part of these sales coming from the US. Former lead single The Memory Remains doesn’t remain all that much with only 170,000 sales while The Unforgiven II stands on 350,000.

Their weakest selling album from the 90s because of its specific nature, Garage Inc. ends up with two big hits on it. Whiskey In The Jar is among the group’s Top 5 songs in most European countries while Turn The Page is almost as strong.

St. Anger is now running fairly slowly, but its early sales, especially from ringtones, put it on a decent 320,000 units. The rest of the album does very poorly. The Day That Never Come reversed this trend. It sold nearly 1.5 million units, fully enjoying the sizable US download market of 2008. Multiple tracks from Death Magnetic were released before the album, shifting great numbers in the meantime, although their awareness among the general public is low. As for tracks from Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, they sold tiny numbers, as tiny as the current market for this format.

The final total for the band is of 40.75 million digital sales, a tremendous number for songs which have been mostly catalog items since the arrival of iTunes.

 


Streaming platforms numbers

Streaming

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

Top Hits

The album Metallica registers the 2 biggest hits of the band with both Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman netting well over 400,000 EAS. It’s worth noting that the latter leads Spotify’s results thanks to its bigger success in the US while the former, more popular in Latin America, has the edge on YouTube.

The 1991 blockbuster also records a third song in the Top 5 and a total of 5 inside the Top 10. It’s the top album overall too with over 1 billion streams on Spotify and 3 billion on YouTube for a grand total of 1.48 million EAS.

These unbelievable numbers still let room for their remaining tracks. Both Master Of Puppets and One crack 200,000 EAS, while For Whom The Bell Tolls, Whiskey In The Jar, and Fade To Black are all well over 100,000.

Below the Top 10 we can found songs from various albums, like Seek & Destroy which performs well for their debut, or The Day That Never Comes which continues to be streamed. Load happens to be their only album which fails to land a one song inside their Top 30. It’s no wonder if its catalog sales have been nowhere near the ones of its predecessor ever since it moved to catalog status.

Hardwired… To Self-Destruct came out during the streaming era, so it had to be expected to see several of its songs make the list. There is 4 so far, led by Hardwired. It has yet to be seen if they will remain popular through the years.

While all numbers of these songs are great, I strongly recommend checking the full catalog breakdown below. In fact, the band’s consistency is remarkable and streaming figures bring one more evidence of it since they amass 86 different titles over 10,000 EAS.

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.

Metallica’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 this example of S&M, these figures mean it sold 7,320,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 2,128,059 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 Metallica album are responsible for  53% of the S&M track list attractiveness. This means it generated 3,906,000 of its 7,320,000 album sales and so forth for the other records. We then apply this process to all compilations present on below table.

Compilations sales figures listing

Metallica Compilations sales

While Metallica are famous for never releasing a compilation album in nearly 40 years, they did drop multiple side projects, live albums, box sets, and music videos. Among them is the duet album with Lou Reed, Lulu, which completely bombed. Then, there is also heavily successful products. One of them is S&M, one of the best selling live albums of all-time, along with its top selling music video too. Both sets combine for 8.6 million sales.

The band always issued plenty of EPs, some of which sold very well. Their renditions on the $5.98 E.P. got a cult reputation very early and were available only through this EP, which thus went on to sell nearly 2 million copies. These songs were later included into the Garage Inc. album. We can also highlight the 7.8 million sales of music videos, a number that easily puts them among the very top sellers of all-time in this format.

 

As a bonus, below is the breakdown of their top selling live set.

Metallica S&M sales

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. These numbers are obtained by applying the method from the section The distribution process to all packages listed under Compilation sales figures listing category.

Logically, Metallica is the main helper of their catalog having powered 8.7 million sales of live sets, music videos, etc. Their first 4 albums follow, with also a nice contribution from ReLoad thanks to the popularity of Fuel. The main surprise, which isn’t really one, is the 2 million plus sales linked to Garage Inc., which come almost in full from the similarly titled EP from 1987.

Total Album (all types) Sales per Country

Metallica album sales by country

Please note country-specific numbers may miss sales of a few minor releases, although totals are complete.

Metallica Career CSPC Results

Metallica total sales

So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album by Metallica 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 2,501,000 albums – 16,670,000 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)

Just like Creedence Clearwater Revival, the trajectory of Metallica‘s career appears to be a wave. The difference is that this wave went much higher and also lasted much longer.

Indeed, the American Metal icons have yet to release an album that sells less than 3 million units. Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is their weakest so far, and it still moved a very nice 3.6 million equivalent album sales. Considering the lasting appeal of their catalog, this record is actually in line with many of its predecessors, now time will tell if it will be able to amass larger numbers in the future.

Both St. Anger and Death Magnetic stand at 5.4-6.2 million, healthy numbers as well even if below 90s’ sales beasts of the band. There is still zillions of successful groups which would like to have these albums as part of their discography. You can already open your records book to see who else managed to score 8 10-million sellers in a row. They are not there right now, but it won’t be long before it gets real.

Some albums are also comfortably over that mark. Load is now on 13 million, while Ride The Lightning impresses at nearly 15 million. Master Of Puppets keeps climbing fast, now showing well over 17 million sales to date across all formats. On its side, …And Just For All is up to 19 million.

There was no suspense about the leader, but we are still amazed at numbers achieved by Metallica. The absolute classic from 1991 stands on 45.4 million, the plateau of historical blockbusters. Give or take a million, that’s how much albums like Guns N’ Roses‘ Appetite For Destruction, Celine Dion‘s Let’s Talk About Love, Dire Straits Brothers In Arms, Michael Jackson‘s Dangerous, and Shania Twain‘s Come On Over have sold. It’s also more than the Beatles‘ top seller Abbey Road. This is how big Metallica is. It also illustrates that while it’s easy to fall into the “top selling metal band” resume, Metallica are not only big inside their genre, their crossover success is just as massive.

With new releases still selling extremely well and a back catalog that is as buoyant as ever, the total of the band will keep on climbing. As for now, it is already up to 156.7 million. This makes Metallica the second best selling American band of all-time, only topped by the Eagles.

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. 1991 – MetallicaNothing Else Matters [Metallica]14,620,000
2. 1991 – MetallicaEnter Sandman [Metallica]14,510,000
3. 1988 – MetallicaOne […And Justice For All]11,220,000
4. 1986 – MetallicaMaster Of Puppets [Master Of Puppets]9,170,000
5. 1991 – MetallicaThe Unforgiven [Metallica]5,600,000
6. 1984 – MetallicaFor Whom The Bell Tolls [Ride The Lightning]5,500,000
7. 1984 – MetallicaFade To Black [Ride The Lightning]3,940,000
8. 1997 – MetallicaFuel [Reload]3,690,000
9. 1991 – MetallicaSad But True [Metallica]3,670,000
10. 1998 – MetallicaWhiskey In The Jar [Garage Inc.]3,100,000
11. 1983 – MetallicaSeek & Destroy [Kill ‘Em All]2,980,000
12. 1996 – MetallicaUntil It Sleeps [Load]2,900,000
13. 1991 – MetallicaWherever I May Roam [Metallica]2,800,000
14. 1986 – MetallicaBattery [Master Of Puppets]2,510,000
15. 1997 – MetallicaThe Unforgiven II [Reload]2,370,000

If you feel inspired by this list, we just created this CSPC Metallica playlist on Spotify!

Discography results

Thanks to our new ASR (Artist Success Rating) concept, we know that their sales represent 29.0 million times the purchase of their entire discography. Coupled with their total sales, it translates into an ASR score of 382. This puts them above bands like Dire Straits and Aerosmith, but just below the Guns N’ Roses. The ranking of all artists studied so far is available too at this link.

 

Records & Achievements

  • At 156,706,000 EAS, Metallica is the best selling metal act of all-time.
  • At 156,706,000 EAS, Metallica is the second best selling US band of all-time.
  • Metallica is one of only 4 acts with 6 consecutive 10 million sellers (EAS).
  • At 45,433,000 EAS, Metallica is the 3rd most successful album from 1991.
  • At 19,070,000 EAS, …And Justice For All is the 4th most successful album from 1988.
  • At 17,350,000 EAS, Master Of Puppets is the 6th most successful album from 1986.
  • At 16,900,000 US Soundscan sales, Metallica is the highest selling album over this panel in this country since 1991.
  • At 27 years and 6 months, Metallica has the longest span ever of consecutive US #1 studio albums.
  • Master Of Puppets was the 2nd fastest album from the 80s to hit 10 million stream with all its tracks. …And Justice For All and Ride The Lightning will soon become the 4th and 5th, respectively.
  • Metallica is one of the only 3 albums from the 90s with 2 tracks over 300 million streams in Spotify.

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:

Elvis Presley album salesBeatles album salesRolling Stones album salesLed Zeppelin albums and singles salesBon Jovi Slippery When WetPink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon

 

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

Sources: IFPISpotifyYouTubeDiscogs.

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Erdos

How many albums sold Metallica in Turkey?

They are the only artist played 5 stadium concerts here. Madonna and Bon Jovi played twice

Erdos

Is Garage Inc best selling cover album of all time?

Is Live Shit best selling box set of all time?

Martin

No, there are many box sets that have outsold Live Shit. Off the top of my head Springsteens “Live 1975-1985”, a 5LP/3CD box set, RIAA certified 13 times Platinum way back in 1999 for 4.33m shipments, has sold more copies in the US than Live Shit has worldwide. As has Led Zeppelins 6LP/4CD “Boxed Set”, which was RIAA certified Diamond in 2001 for 2.5m shipments. Additionally, Garage Inc is also not the best selling covers album of all time either. I don’t know if Celine Dions “These Times Are Special”, which features cover versions of Christmas songs, is the best… Read more »

Jsak

“The true-false double album Load and Reload weren’t as successful, nor commercially neither critically, but still combine for over 20 million pure album sales.”
I would say commercially enough, as far as criticism is concerned, better in America than in Europe

Erdos

Metallica is household name America’s biggest band ever. In Europe Their tshirts sold at fashion stores

They will outsell one hit wonder Eagles soon

Americas biggest products

1- Coca-Cola
2-McDonald’s
3- Nike

Americas biggest international music stars

1- Michael Jackson
2- Madonna
3- Metallica

Jsak

Americas biggest international music stars

1- The Beatles
2- Elvis Presley
3- Led Zeppelin

Tony

Led Zep not as popular around the rest of the world though, which is bigger than America.

Jsak

I have considered the artists that in America have depopulated the most and are known enough also in the rest of the world, not the most famous American artists.
What you say is correct, in fact Metallica in the rest of the world are less popular than Led Zeppelin 😉

Jsak

Hi MJD,

In fact in the comment I have specified that I have considered the artists that have mostly depopulated in America, not those of American nationality, also because otherwise I don’t think that Mariah Carey or Bruce Springsteen are less popular than the Metallica

Erdos

Mariah and Bruce washed up artists who can’t make platinum albums anymore

Erdos

YouTube’s Most-Viewed Artists Globally last 12 months

Metallica 1.5 billion
Beatles 718 million
Elivs Presley 607 million
Led Zeppelin 483 million

Erdos

Metallica Black Album spents 534 weeks at Billboard Top 200
No Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Elvis album can beat that record
It sold more than Michael Jackson’s Thriller in 2019

Erdos

Metallica’s WorldWired tour break attandance records right now.
Since 1981 Metallica played over 3000 concerts visited over 60 countries
Played over 35 million people live

Erdos

Which band has more fans globaly? Result is very clear

Facebook followers:

Metallica 36 million
Led Zeppelin 13 million

Erdos

Led Zeppelin don’t have bigger song than Nothing Else Matters and Unforgiven

Youtube views:

Nothing Else Matters: 606 million
Unforgiven 265 million
Stairway To Heaven :142 million

Erdos

Enter Sandman, For Whom The Bell Tolls, Master of Puppets, Seek and Destroy played at NFL Football games shows their popularity in US

Erdos

Annual Wikipedia page views:

Metallica: 6,464,590
Led Zeppelin. 5,353,031

https://www.businessinsider.com/the-100-most-popular-rock-bands-of-all-time-2018-9#3-queen-98

Erdos

Hardwired…to Self-Destruct is at the top of the charts in 57 countries. They knocked out Bruno Mars at Billboard charts. This shows Metallica’s global domination

Martin

That’s just one version, you need to add up all the versions. Metallicas numbers from this article in Feb 19 were

Nothing Else Matters 1,297,400,000
Enter Sandman 660,500,000
One 540.700,000
The Unforgiven 463,500,000

As of today all versions of Stairway To Heaven come to 491,500,000, which I think is a great number for a song with no official video, something that all four of those Metallica tracks have.

Nuno

That’s just on YouTube… not on sales. Check out the sales and EAS number and compare. 606 million YouTube gives only around 53k EAS Led Zeppelin 2 biggest tracks Stairway To Heaven [Led Zeppelin IV] – 26,530,000 EAS Whole Lotta Love [Led Zeppelin II] – 14,790,000 Metallica 2 biggest tracks Nothing Else Matter – 14,620,000 EAS Enter Sandman – 14,510,000 EAS Not only Led Zeppelin had 2 biggest tracks than any Metallica songs but their biggest track has almost twice the EAS than Metallica biggest track. Streaming from YouTube, Spotify and other sites is increasing but it still is a… Read more »

Donald Miller

You’re comparing them to a band that hasn’t released an album in 40 years.

Donald Miller

None of us are saying that Metallica isn’t huge. They’re HUGE! Their tours are huge. But other acts have bigger box office returns; pop stars and rock bands alike.

You seem to be taking these numbers as a value judgement on the quality of their music.

Nuno

This century alone Metallica did $600 million on concert box office. U2 did $1.800 million playing less concerts. Not all Metallica concerts were sold. Even Madonna made over $1.200 million playing less half their concerts. Both U2 and Madonna played for more people this century. Where did you get those 35 million? Are counting also with all the festivals they played where there were also other big acts playing? Even if you are the number seems too big when they played to around 6 million only during this century.

Donald Miller

No one needs to beat their 534 weeks. Because the record is 942 weeks. That’s the number to beat.

RolandL

Metallica was taken off Billboard at that number because Billboard decided to throw all old albums onto their catalogue chart instead of the active top 100.

If not, today, the Black Album would still be in the top 100, setting a world record for the 1st multi-generational rock album, beating even Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”

Martin

You’re being very naive, as given the information we have at hand, you should have been able to see that, what you’re saying, is actually impossible. If you were to add Metallicas BB200 wks 540, to it’s BB Contemporary wks 160 and assumed that it was on every week (333) between it being taken off/falling off the BB200 in January 1997 and the Contemporary charts inception in 2003, it would be on 1.033wks. If we do similar with DSOTM, add it’s BB200 wks (943wks) to it’s Contemporary (292wks), it’s already on 1,235wks and bear in mind, under the Billboard 200… Read more »

Music enjoyer

Do you think Metallica is bigger than Guns n Roses, Eagles, or Nirvana?

Martin

Biggest is quite hard to quantify but personally, I’d say Guns are the biggest.

Music enjoyer

I personally don’t think one of those bands are necessarily “bigger” than the other. They’re all as big as you can get as a band unless you’re the Beatles. Ik Metallica has outsold by Guns a lot, but Metallica has the bigger discography. I feel that the greatest hits album for Guns does help them a lot for their sells at the same time tho. I just wanted to see what other people thought.

Martin

My personal thoughts are that the sort of GNR brand is bigger than the other acts. IMO they seemed to and still do crossover to a wider demographic than any of the other three and their bigger songs cross over more into the mainstream/general public.

As said though, bigger is extremely hard to quantify.

Music enjoyer

I feel like Metallica is the bigger brand honestly with how popular their shirts are. I mean that’s one of the most popular clothing items ever. Guns N’ Roses has bigger singles, but Metallica’s discography is a little more listened too I feel like. Idk considering they’re both some of the biggest musical acts to ever exist, ig it’s subjective.

Martin

I’d say people who are not fans of either act are far more aware of who GNR are and their music. Certainly in the UK, there is no competition between the two, GNR and their music are easily more well known.

Metallica to me, seems to mainly appeal to a more metal oriented fan base, whereas as GNR appeal to a wider demographic of society.

Music enjoyer

I don’t disagree it’s just an interesting topic to talk about, but I feel what can benefit Metallica in this situation is if we go back to 2008, Guns released Chinese Democracy, and Metallica released Death Magnetic. Chinese debuted at number 2 with about 290k sold first week while Death Magnetic sold over 500k debuting number 1. Also with hardwired back in 2016, they sold a lot, and beat Bruno Mars in the peak of his popularity out for the number one spot. I feel that’s impressive for them being 20+ years out their prime, and doing things like that.

Analord

I’m sure you’re aware that Chinese Democracy wasn’t a proper GNR album.

Anyway, “bigger” doesn’t mean anything. GNR are more famous and Metallica had more success, but that’s two different things.

Martin

Yes, I also enjoy having discussions like this, especially when it centers around metal or hard rock acts. I don’t think you can relate the two scenarios. Personally, I’ve never felt that Chinese Democracy, was a bone fide Guns N Roses release. Yes it bears the name but it’s an Axl Rose solo album, masquerading as Guns N Roses. It would be akin to James Hetfield releasing an album as Metallica, without Hammett, Ulrich or Turjillo or Robert Plant as Led Zeppelin without Page or Jones. It’s also difficult to measure their careers against each other, given that Guns N… Read more »

Music enjoyer

I agree GNR was definitely bigger leading up to 1991, but everything changed once Sandman came out, and the black album took over the world. GNR’s downfall happened right after the tour with Metallica. It was a mistake having GNR close it out cause Metallica absolutely blew them off stage. My parents went to one of the shows of that tour, and said the same thing. Many people thought Metallica should have headlined, but Lars said Metallica chose to go first cause you can’t rely on Axl to actually show up on time, or show up at all. It sucks… Read more »

Martin

It didn’t. Guns were still the bigger act worldwide, in 91, 92 & 93. There was far more fuss around the Illusion albums, than there was Metallica and on a worldwide basis, they outsold Metallica in nearly every territory. Granted there were two albums compared to one but the consumer had to spend twice as much to own them, than they did Metallica. To date Illusions are at around 37m sales, while Metallica is only at around 31m. I’m not trying to be disrespectful but I was around then, saw both acts in 1991. Metallica at Monsters of Rock at… Read more »

Last edited 22 days ago by Martin
Music enjoyer

Wait so are you saying during that time GNR was bigger, or do you think GNR is bigger all time? Or both?

Martin

Back then, no question in my mind, it was Guns. As I said the furore around them was huge, they were like a circus, in the tabloid media, on mainstream TV etc Everybody knew who they were, it just wasn’t the same with Metallica. Metallica were always kind of viewed as a Heavy Metal Band and as such didn’t really receive the press or attention that Guns did, who were much more regarded as a straightforward rock band, with slight pop sensibilities. As I said before though, judging bigger overall is quite difficult to quantify. Metallica have obviously sold more… Read more »

Last edited 22 days ago by Martin
Music enjoyer

That’s fair. Again, I’m not disagreeing it’s just fun to elaborate on these kinds of things. I do think GNR is more famous because they were the rock star bad boys, and Axl was the frontman who would cause nothing but trouble. Metallica on the other hand just played heavy ass music, and wanted to kick your ass. James wasn’t too attention seeking like Axl was. I think a good conclusion is that Metallica is more successful, and sell more if you watched the video I sent the other guy it showed during the early 90’s Metallica was selling almost… Read more »

Martin

I wouldn’t go by those Youtube videos, they are fun to look at but pointless. You can’t judge sales just based on certification, as labels actually need to certify acts and quite a few don’t bother or don’t always certify them on time.So many, many acts are under certified, some hugely. There is also the fact that lots of certification organisations such as BPI, RIAA etc didn’t actually implement multiple platinum certifications until the 80s. So lot’s of 60s and 70s acts were retrospectively certified. In truth The Eagles and Led Zeppelin were more certified, than Metallica or Guns N… Read more »

Last edited 22 days ago by Martin
Analord

GNR were much bigger than Metallica at the time, both Use Your Illusion albums sold about 15 million while the black album was more like 13 million.

Music enjoyer

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=a3w8I8boc_I
Just watch the video, and see what you think. Whenever I look it up, the black album is the highest selling album of the Nielsen soundscan era.

Martin

Yes, but that is just for the US and solely for the Soundscan Era. Appetite has actually outsold it in the US, even with a Greatest Hits album since 2003, eating into it’s sales, something Metallica has never had to contend with.

Appetite also edges it in total Spotify streams, by over 400m, with 2.5B to Metallicas 2.1B

Music enjoyer

Is the black album the highest selling album of the soundscan era?

Martin

Yes, the last time I saw published figures, it was top and although no one knows what will happen in the future, I can’t see anything catching it, as the nearest albums to it, Jagged Little Pill and Come on Over sell considerably less than it and have done for many years now.

Analord

“The Bodyguard, Come On Over and Jagged Little Pill all outsold it.”

By the way, what do you think about Hootie & The Blowfish’s 21x platinum certification ? It’s obviously linked to that Eagles’ 38xp cert, I know you said it was “mysterious” at the time, do you still think so ?

Music enjoyer

I have a question. How do songs such as Back in black, nothing else matters, seven nation army, californication, etc all chart not very high at all. Like not even too 30, but are some of the most recognizable songs ever? Also, where would you put Metallica on an all time biggest artists, and bands ever? Like top eight biggest band ever, and top 20 biggest artists ever?

Analord

“Is the black album the highest selling album of the soundscan era?”

You seem to underestimate catalog sales, most of the black album’s sales were achieved after the early 90s.

MusicFan

You’re leaving out quite a few names. Queen is at 3.2B and MJ is at 2.06B. They are the most popular legacy acts on YouTube. Current artists like Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars are at 5.41Band 1.9B, respectively. Literally more than everyone you named.

Tony

Erdos, all this Metallica stuff your ranting about doesn’t really matter ( excuse the pun😃) The Fact is there 18 th in the top 100 or so way behind the likes of The Beatles, Queen and Pink Floyd.
No contest.

Martin

I do not think visual popularity is a truly fair, sensible or logical comparison here. It would be similar to measuring say only LP sales by the four and without any context, that would look pretty poor for Metallica. I don’t think you can measure a contemporary act, that came into the industry just as visual representation was truly taking off and resulted in music video becoming a prerequisite, against three acts, who were not even around in 1981 when MTV kicked off. I’d presume when people want to use Youtube to access music, it’s usually because they want to… Read more »

Smiley

Apologies for interrupting your conversation.

Isn’t the question of who is ‘bigger/more successful/most popular’ something the ASR scale is designed to address?

Isn’t one of the functions of ASR to measure this?

Just a thought. I could have it completely wrong!?!

Martin

No worries. Kind of but I suppose what I was intimating was, that I think GNR are more famous, that more people who are not fans per se, know who they are and could name more of their tracks, not that their catalogue is strictly more successful, more that it’s more well known.

A similar analogy in my book would be say Led Zeppelin and Whitney Houston or David Bowie. Zep have clearly sold more but WH and DB are infinitely more recognisable, well known to the man in the street, kind of like their star is bigger than Zeps.

Smiley

Yes I see. You mean artists whose profile is greater than their (or others) actual success.

I’d argue that Bob Dylan is very similar to Bowie in this respect. High public recognition/awareness that possibly exceeds their true sales performance.

Jsak

133.775.000 total album (all types), ep and single musicals excluded ?

Jsak

I have the feeling that Iron Maiden outside of North America, in the world are more popular than Metallica and sell more especially in Latin America and Europe (excluding black album)

Lorrane

i dont think iron maiden are more popular than metallica anywhere in the world, but the gap is way closer in europe and south american than in US/CANADA, and any Iron Maiden fan who thinks the band is bigger than metallica OUT of the United States, I’d like you to prove that argument with numbers, and not just with words or guesswork facts: – metallica has almost 3 times more followers on facebook than iron maiden, and has much more followers in social media in general (including Youtube and Spotify here) – metallica black album is one of the best… Read more »

Jsak

I’m not an avid fan of Iron Maiden or Metallica, although I like both.
I only say that, except for the black album, I would be curious to know the numbers of the first 6/7 Maiden albums in Latin America and Europe and compare them with those of Metallica up to Reload, especially Number of the beast must have sold quite a lot little ‘more.
Until 1991 for me Maiden outside North America were definitely more popular, then the black album changed things.
Even today, however, in Latin America they are considered real icons with marketing and sales of t-shirts.

Deano

Iron maiden have way more integrity so who cares and Metallica wouldn’t b around without maiden

Jsak

Metallica in the 80s were linked to the sound of bands like Black Sabbath, Diamon Head or Motorhead, Iron Maiden does not enter anything

Jsak

Surely in Great Britain the Iron Maiden have greater global sales.
The basic argument, however, is that without the black album Iron Maiden would continue to be more popular outside of North America because thanks to the homonymous album the catalog sales of the four previous records also increased a lot.

RLAAMJR.

Top-selling metal band but the top-selling metal song is “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. Just sayin’ 🙂

RLAAMJR.

I was really thinking it’s really not a metal song but thanks for the correction. 🙂

jules giddings

Nirvana aren’t metal at all. Lots of guitars, but its not metal.

Jules Giddings

I thought they’d sold more than Bon Jovi. This now proves it!

RLAAMJR.

But the reality is, the truth is, the fact is, more people know songs from Bon Jovi than songs from Metallica.

jules giddings

You could also say ‘Nothing else matters isn’t a metal song’, its just written, performed and recorded by a metal band! Oooh, things can get so complicated! 🙂

RLAAMJR.

Not certain if Bon Jovi music videos have been shown on televisions more ( but I think yes ) but definitely Bon Jovi songs are more radio friendly and more appealing to any gender and any age.

Martin

I think what you’re trying to intimate, is that Bon Jovi are more well known amongst the general public. I’d agree, certainly in the UK, there is no doubt what so ever. Your average person in the street could name them, Jon Bon Jovi or Livin On A Prayer, way more frequently than they could Metallica, a Metallica member or one of their songs. They really crossed over into the mainstream, along with Guns N Roses, way more than any of those other US Hard Rock/Metal Bands bands of the time. The thing is though, beyond those few very well… Read more »

RLAAMJR.

I totally understand your point especially that we have the data/figures why you would say Metallica’s catalogue are more popular and more listened to. I just believe that there is also a great number of unrecorded figures from fm stations that even non fans and even non music fans (and animals too lol ) will hear and know the songs. Songs being played through fm stations exposes a lot of people. fm stations are slowly dying though. But in the 90s, fm stations were everywhere.

Jules Giddings

Neither Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC or Metallica really focused on releasing singles. Their management back in the day focused on promoting their albums. Queen, Guns n roses, Bon Jovi The Rolling Stones, Elton John and of course Madonna and Michael Jackson all made a lot of effort to get on the radio and make flashy videos. Both systems work but what it means is that unfortunately the later bands are viewed more by a lot of people as being singles artists rather than being famous for their albums. It comes down to simply how those artists were promoted back… Read more »

Donald Miller

The biggest selling US album is the Eagles’ Greatest Hits. The UK’s biggest selling album is Queen’s Greatest Hits. There’s nothing wrong with being a singles band so long as those singles are good.

Dan

Wait ’till Bon Jovi is updated before jumping to conclusions.

Jules Giddings

I’m not sure we’re going to get any updates.

Jules Giddings

You mention Metallica are the second American band on this list MJD, I’d be very interested to know where Santana come. On previous lists they’ve scored 117 million in pure sales.

Dan

Very impressive jump since last research! As usual, thanks for the hard work 🙂

pat200

wow 17 million sales increased in the span of 2.5 years!! amazing!!

Nathan

great work, thank you for explaining

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