40 years ago, in the summer of 1979, the whole world was crazy about the album Breakfast In America by classic group Supertramp.
This immense success wasn’t only the peak of the group, but the flagship of an entire genre that was heavily popular back then, progressive rock.
Of course, we already studied Pink Floyd from this genre, but the UK legends are often more associated with classic rock in general by the masses, or psychedelic rock.
The late 70s progressive rock music had often a pop-oriented sound, and in this category Supertramp were kings.
As a demonstration of the genre’s super dominance 40 years ago, we can check Germany’s top album chart starting August 13, 1979.
Supertramp were at #2 and #26, Dire Straits at #3 and #4, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band at #9 and #29, Electric Light Orchestra at #11 and #19, Barclay James Harvest at #14, Alan Parsons Project at #15, #22, #36, Pink Floyd at #16. 10 of these albums were also the 10 longest runners of the Top 40.
While Pink Floyd became one of the greatest selling catalog bands, Supertramp haven’t dent a single Billboard chart for more than 30 years, not even sub-genre rankings.
It’s near impossible to approach top sellers of all-time with no catalog appeal. Where does the band led by Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies rank in this context?
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 Supertramp‘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!
Supertramp Album Sales
Original Album Sales – Comments
The band took some time before breaking over. The first two albums, Supertramp and Indelibly Stamped sold next to nothing upon release, climbing over a million thanks to catalog sales after their subsequent hits.
Crime of the Century was the record that put them on the map. It went to #4 in the UK and #38 in the US while remaining uncharted in most other countries.
Hardly a smash, it gained a cult reputation yet. From 1975 to 1980, it never stopped selling. In Germany for example, the album took 3 years to enter charts, but then went as high as #5 and lasted 3 years inside the ranking.
This impressive run led it to an impressive 8.72 million sales to date. Crisis? What Crisis? had a similar run but at a lower scale, concluding on 3.87 million sales.
In 1977, the success of the single Give A Little Bit gave Supertramp enough exposure to reach the general public for the first time.
The album Even in the Quietest Moments… went to #1 in Canada and the Netherlands while reaching at least the Top 20 in most markets, en route for 6.37 million sales. It also triggered the success of their back catalog.
Of course, their ground breaking smash was Breakfast In America. It made the top in the US, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, etc., although ironically peaking at #3 in their homeland, the UK.
It hasn’t only peak high. Thanks to multiple huge singles, the record lasted 9 months inside the top 10 in various relevant markets. It was the top selling record globally during the year 1979 and stands at 16.76 million to date.
…Famous Last Words… was one more hit for the band in their strongest markets like France, Brazil, Germany, Canada, but it bombed in the US and the UK. It still moved 5.48 million copies worldwide.
The next 4 albums completely failed to produce hits with selling dropping as low as 310,000 for their last effort, Slow Motion.
Supertramp Songs Sales
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 3 ratio between one album and one physical single.
Since Supertramp really started to become popular in 1977 thanks to Give A Little Bit, it seems surprising to see the 1974 track Dreamer at 1.1 million sales!
In fact, the original release sold a modest 260,000 units. The song gained a cult status and got reissued multiple times yet. In 1977 it added 60,000 units, then a live version promoted the set Paris in 1980. It is the highest selling release of the song at 650,000 units. Another issue from 1982 got into 6 digits territory.
Give A Little Bit on its side also got 3 releases, but it’s the first one that sold almost all its 655,000 copies. It was a #15 hit in the US, #8 in Canada and #2 in the Netherlands.
Singles from Breakfast In America were definitely great sellers. On top of fueling to death their parent album, they also did well on their own.
The Logical Song posts an impressive 2.53 million total with near 1 million in the US, over half a million in France, near 300,000 in the UK and near 200,000 in Germany.
Goodbye Stranger and Take The Long Way Home sold 1.76 million combined, with both registering over half of their consumers in the US.
In the other side, the title track sold almost all its copies in the UK, in Japan and in Germany.
It’s Raining Again was a strong return with 1.68 million sales and solid success in all major countries. Subsequent singles flopped.
The next era was similar with the lead single Cannonball doing OK, and next ones remaining unnoticed.
All told the group moved just over 10 million physical singles.
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 1,5 ratio between one album and one digital single.
Expectedly, there isn’t many songs from Supertramp which are well remembered nowadays. They still have a few though.
The best example is The Logical Song which stands at almost 1.5 million downloads. Since the US is far from being their top market for many years and they never broke over South Korea, it’s a healthy number.
At different levels, Goodbye Stranger, Breakfast In America and Take the Long Way Home do well too with over 2 million sales combined.
Give a Little Bit is a surprising 3rd overall for the band with 850,000 sales to date. It’s Raining Again along with 3 singles from Crime of the Century follow.
In the negative side, there is as many as 6 albums which do not produce a single song in 6 digits.
Streaming is made up of audio and video streams. Our CSPC methodology includes both to better reflect the real popularity of each track. The main source of data for each avenue is respectively Spotify and YouTube. To factor in the growing impact of multiple Asian countries where these platforms aren’t always the go-to site for music streaming, more sources have been added.
In order to account for their real popularity in each relevant country, the below sources have been used along with the mentioned ratios that reflect the market share of each area.
– South Korea : Genie streams * 3.05 (consistent with Gaon streaming numbers)
– Japan : AWA streams * 100/5.5 (AWA has 5.5% of the Japanese streaming market)
– Elsewhere : Spotify streams * (370 – 8.5 – 9.5 – 33 – 9) / 207 (370 million global subscribers minus 8.5 million from South Korea minus 9.5 million from Japan minus 33 million from China divided by the number of Spotify only users minus 9 million more Asian users) + Genie streams * 3.05 (uses Genie rather than Spotify to extrapolate markets like Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam)
– China* : Xiami streams * 125/6.5 (Xiami has just over 5% of the Chinese streaming market)
– Elsewhere : Youtube views
*since 96.4% of Chinese streaming platforms are free users, that paid-for users pay less than $2 a month and that they are also used as video streaming platforms, their streams are weighted in par with YouTube streams.
Audio Stream value – 1500 plays equal 1 album unit
Video Stream value – 11,750 views equal 1 album unit
Equivalent Albums Sales (EAS) = ( Spotify * 310/207 + Genie * 3.05*2 + AWA * 100/5.5 ) / 1500 + ( Xiami * 125/6.5 + YouTube ) / 11750
Top streaming hits of the iconic group are massively axed around a quartet of albums. In fact, all their Top 20 come from them only.
Singles from Breakfast In America dominate with 4 out of the top 5, including the top track The Logical Song. It’s their only single to crack 100 million on Spotify, a fairly disappointing number.
If Give a Little Bit is a solid runner up at 94,000 EAS, remaining tracks fail to reach even a third of 100 million on Spotify. The closest is School, one of the 5 tracks from Crime of the Century inside the top 11.
Numbers from Asian platforms AWA, Genie and Xiami are all disastrous. They are also so-so on YouTube where their catalog was properly uploaded a few months ago only, with their daily views growing fast since the start of 2019.
At 318,000 EAS, Breakfast In America records more than half of the bands’ career total.
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.
Supertramp 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 The Very Best Of, these figures mean it sold 6,280,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 489,097 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 Breakfast In America album are responsible for 59% of the The Very Best Of track list attractiveness. This means it generated 3,725,000 of its 6,280,000 album sales and so forth for the other records.
Compilations sales figures listing
The release of multiple strong compilations when the CD boomed in late 80s / early 90s is no doubt in good part responsible for the very low catalog sales of Supertramp.
The Autobiography and The Very Best Of, one and two, sold over 10 million units combined, but also killed sales of the original albums.
The live set Paris milked their catalog as early as in 1980. It sold over 4 million units and was one of the highest selling live albums ever back then.
As a bonus, below is the breakdown of the top selling compilations.
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.
Total Album (all types) Sales per Country
Please note country-specific numbers may miss sales of a few minor releases, although totals are complete.
Supertramp Career CSPC Results
So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album by Supertramp 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 Purpose released in digital format sold the equivalent of 3,569,000 albums – 23,790,000 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)
It’s easy to say that Supertramp are forgotten or that they weren’t 100% global, but numbers show they can’t be overlooked. Indeed, Breakfast In America closes counts at more than 30 million equivalent album sales!
This makes it one of the 60 most successful album of all-time. There is also less than 20 band which did that well.
Both Crime of the Century and Even in the Quietest Moments… are also strong performers. They moved 22 million units combined.
…Famous Last Words… did a great 6.9 million but it’s also the album that destroyed their momentum. The next 4 albums only add for 5 million in total.
Speaking about totals, Supertramp stand at 71.2 million equivalent album sales. Their numbers are now increasing at very slow pace though.
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. 1979 – Supertramp – The Logical Song [Breakfast in America] – 12,140,000
2. 1979 – Supertramp – Breakfast in America [Breakfast in America] – 8,300,000
3. 1977 – Supertramp – Give a Little Bit [Even in the Quietest Moments…] – 7,620,000
4. 1982 – Supertramp – It’s Raining Again […Famous Last Words…] – 4,190,000
5. 1979 – Supertramp – Goodbye Stranger [Breakfast in America] – 4,170,000
6. 1974 – Supertramp – School [Crime of the Century] – 4,110,000
7. 1979 – Supertramp – Take the Long Way Home [Breakfast in America] – 3,630,000
8. 1974 – Supertramp – Dreamer [Crime of the Century] – 2,950,000
9. 1974 – Supertramp – Bloody Well Right [Crime of the Century] – 1,850,000
10. 1985 – Supertramp – Cannonball [Brother Where You Bound] – 1,420,000
11. 1971 – Supertramp – Your Poppa Don’t Mind [Indelibly Stamped] – 1,280,000
12. 1974 – Supertramp – Crime of the Century [Crime of the Century] – 1,070,000
13. 1974 – Supertramp – Hide in Your Shell [Crime of the Century] – 1,020,000
If you feel inspired by this list, we just created this CSPC Supertamp playlist on Spotify!
Thanks to our new ASR (Artist Success Rating) concept, we know that their sales represent 25.64 million times the purchase of their entire discography. Coupled with their total sales, it translates into an ASR score of 242.
Records & Achievements
- At 30,028,000 EAS, Breakfast In America is the 3rd most successful album from 1979.
- At 12,130,000 EAS, The Logical Song is the 4th most successful song from 1979.
- At 12,219,000 equivalent album sales, Crime of the Century is among the 5 most successful albums from 1974.
- Supertramp is one of only 8 international bands with multiple million selling albums in France.
- At 146 weeks, Crime of the Century is one of the 10 longest running studio albums of all-time in Germany.
- At 11 weeks, both Even in the Quietest Moments… and Breakfast In America were tied 7th for most weeks at #1 in Spain for a foreign album during the 70s.
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!