Abbey Road settles as The Beatles’ ultimate album

Abbey Road has just hit 3 billion streams on Spotify, becoming the first 60s album to do so. It has a comfortable lead over the all-time favorites White Album (1.9 billion) and Sgt. Pepper (900 million). Is The Beatles‘ last recorded album slowly setting itself apart from these two monsters and settling as the flagship for the group’s discography?

An immediate success

Abbey Road was an enormous and immediate success, from the off. It managed to sell over 4m copies, in the US, in 1969 alone and 7.6 million worldwide by October 1972, according to EMI. It may not look that impressive from today’s point of view, but back then, with a much lower population and far fewer music consumers, selling half a million was an outstanding achievement.

At that point, of course, The Beatles‘ popularity was enormous. They were coming back after the immense success of the White Album and super hits like Hey Jude and Get Back. Also, the impending breakup of the quartet and rumours of McCartney‘s alleged death were making the headlines.

Abbey Road‘s only single, was the the popular and successful double A-side Come Together / Something. Come Together is now regarded as one of the band’s signature songs, receiving countless radio spins through the years and being covered many times. Something was noticeable as the first single of The Beatles‘ career to be penned by George Harrison. Along with the ultimate feel good tune, Here Comes the Sun, Abbey Road showed that George Harrison, was just as capable of creating hugely popular somgs, as Lennon and McCartney.

A perennial seller

After its release, Abbey Road continued selling extremely well. It doubled its 1969 tally by topping 8 million units in the US during 1984’s Christmas season and is currently closing in on 16 million. Worldwide, Abbey Road has now sold over 27 million copies.

Abbey Road has been a very popular LP, amongst the recent’ vinyl revival, being the best-selling LP in the US in the 2010s. At the same time, many claimed online, that hipsters were pushing this vinyl hype, often without actually listening to them.

With its iconic front cover and the ever lasting critical acclaim of the band, it’s easy to see why Abbey Road is seen as a pièce de résistance for the hipster collector, as they try to give of an air of cool and being in the know.

With the album and its songs being incredibly successful right from the start, should we consider that it’s now doing well, only thanks to this phenomenon?

A lasting popular release

Thanks to streaming, we can now gauge which albums are really listened to and no, in Abbey Road‘s case, it’s not only about being cool and having the item on your shelf.

Abbey Road is the most streamed album of the 60s and has just become the first to hit 3 billions streams on Spotify. No other album of the decade reaches 2 billion yet.

When we look into the details, the striking fact is that its most listened to song is Here Comes the Sun, which appears to be today’s most streamed track of the group on Spotify.

The song has a mammoth 1.2 billion plays, while Come Together is a beast on its own at almost 700 million. Something completes the top 3 with 300 million streams. Each of the album’s 16 tracks are over 30 million.

Source: ChartMasters’ streaming tool (as of 02/22/2024)

Abbey Road settling as The Beatles’ ultimate album

Now, let’s take a closer look at the above list of the most streamed albums from the 60s. The shocker is the absence of Sgt. Pepper: the album appears at #28, with 900 million streams. It leads us to understand that The Beatles‘ historical successes may not be today’s most popular albums.

Here is the sales and streams summary from our full study of The Beatles‘ discography:

You can see that pure studio album sales (first column) set Sgt. Pepper, the White Album, and Abbey Road above the rest of The Beatles‘ discography, with 20-25 million units each.

But in the last column, after taking all formats into account, Abbey Road now stands in a league of its own. While Sgt. Pepper and the White Album total 30-32 million equivalent album sales (EAS), Abbey Road ends up over 46 million EAS when factoring in all compilations and singles sales as well as streams.

The original trio is slowly separating and Abbey Road is settling as The Beatles‘ flagship album in the long run.

We have more for you

… our analyses of The Beatles‘ success through all formats and through streaming only

… our review of The Beatlesglobal reach

… about our original CSPC concept, which allows us to build a relevant full picture of any artist’s commercial success by factoring in all formats:

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