Alicia Keys albums and songs sales

By 2016, R&B artists are pretty much nowhere to be seen. Back in 2001 though, they were absolutely everywhere. Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Brandy, Ashanti, Jill Scott, D’Angelo, Maxwell, Usher, Erykah Badu, R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige, Aaliyah, Blu Cantrell… the list goes on and on. One such R&B star came out in 2001 to quickly turn into the flagship of that generation, Alicia Keys.

Alicia Keys

Not many of those artists can claim strong sales outside of the US though. Unlike theirs, Alicia Keys appeal was clearly not limited to the boundaries of her native country. Her Songs In A Minor successful debut was followed by additional hit albums like The Diary Of Alicia Keys and As I Am.

This being said, in 2016 this era seems truly forgotten. Of the aforementioned artists, none is still a strong seller by the look of it. A few days after the release of her sixth album Here, where does Alicia Keys popularity stands as of today?

ChartMasters’ method: the CSPC

As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept (CSPC) in order to relevantly gauge the act’s results. It will not only bring you sales information for all albums, physical and download singles, as well as audio and video streaming. In fact, it will really determine the act’s popularity.

If you are not yet familiar with the CSPC method, below is a nice and short video of explaining the concept. I recommend watching it before reading on and to the sales figures. You’ll get the idea in just two minutes.

And if you 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 detailed sales figures!

Songs In A Minor (2001)

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  • America
    • US – 7,500,000
    • Canada – 700,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 45,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia
    • Japan – 250,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 250,000
    • New Zealand – 40,000
  • Europe – 3,390,000
    • UK – 1,200,000
    • France – 400,000
    • Germany – 450,000
    • Italy – 215,000
    • Spain – 125,000
    • Sweden – 100,000
    • Netherland – 200,000
    • Switzerland – 100,000
    • Austria – 40,000
    • Finland – 10,000
  • World – 12,600,000

The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003)

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  • America
    • US – 4,900,000
    • Canada – 260,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 25,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia
    • Japan – 200,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 150,000
    • New Zealand – 20,000
  • Europe – 2,200,000
    • UK – 600,000
    • France – 470,000
    • Germany – 240,000
    • Italy – 75,000
    • Spain – 40,000
    • Sweden – 35,000
    • Netherland – 240,000
    • Switzerland – 80,000
    • Austria – 15,000
    • Finland – 10,000
  • World – 8,000,000

As I Am (2007)

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  • America
    • US – 3,950,000
    • Canada – 240,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 30,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia
    • Japan – 230,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 130,000
    • New Zealand – 15,000
  • Europe – 1,520,000
    • UK – 400,000
    • France – 230,000
    • Germany – 210,000
    • Italy – 125,000
    • Spain – 65,000
    • Sweden – 25,000
    • Netherland – 110,000
    • Switzerland – 60,000
    • Austria – 15,000
    • Finland – 5,000
  • World – 6,400,000

The Element of Freedom (2009)

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  • America
    • US – 1,650,000
    • Canada – 150,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 15,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia
    • Japan – 130,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 45,000
    • New Zealand – 10,000
  • Europe – 1,820,000
    • UK – 1,050,000
    • France – 135,000
    • Germany – 190,000
    • Italy – 40,000
    • Spain – 35,000
    • Sweden – 20,000
    • Netherland – 80,000
    • Switzerland – 45,000
    • Austria – 10,000
    • Finland – N/A
  • World – 4,000,000

Girl on Fire (2012)

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  • America
    • US – 825,000
    • Canada – 65,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 30,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia
    • Japan – 50,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 35,000
    • New Zealand – 5,000
  • Europe – 660,000
    • UK – 240,000
    • France – 110,000
    • Germany – 125,000
    • Italy – 20,000
    • Spain – 10,000
    • Sweden – N/A
    • Netherland – 25,000
    • Switzerland – 15,000
    • Austria – 10,000
    • Finland – N/A
  • World – 1,800,000

Here (2016)

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  • America
    • US – 75,000
    • Canada – N/A
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – N/A
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia
    • Japan – 5,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 5,000
    • New Zealand – N/A
  • Europe – 60,000
    • UK – 15,000
    • France – 10,000
    • Germany – 15,000
    • Italy – 5,000
    • Spain – N/A
    • Sweden – N/A
    • Netherland – 5,000
    • Switzerland – N/A
    • Austria – N/A
    • Finland – N/A
  • World – 160,000

Original Album Sales – Comments

Considering how little exposure R&B acts are used to get outside of the US, the total of 33 million studio albums sold including more than 14 million abroad is quite impressive.

Obviously, the curve is constantly going down but up to The Element Of Freedom each Alicia Keys album was able to retain at least 60% of its immediate predecessor sales. Considering how much the album market collapsed during this period, one may wonder in which proportion those sales decreases were due to lower overall appeal of her material or if they were only due to buyers translating into an other format of consumption. Guess what? We will be answering just that within’ the next pages.

The same question may be raised for Girl On Fire. Although much weaker than previous albums in terms of pure album sales, by late 2012 many people had already moved to other formats, which can explain such a drop. We will also be studying very first results of her last record Here too, although the incredible figures it has been moving so far will be hard to compensate in the streaming format. While 160,000 units is already a pretty weak tally, it must be said those are estimated shipments, half of those units are yet to be sold within’ consumers. In all likelihood that total will be reached but second week drops are being so bad that expecting more is being optimistic. In the past, Alicia Keys came out time to time with an unexpected smash hit though so who knows?

2001 Songs in A Minor – 12,600,000
2003 The Diary of Alicia Keys – 8,000,000
2007 As I Am – 6,400,000
2009 The Element of Freedom – 4,000,000
2012 Girl on Fire – 1,800,000
2016 Here – 160,000

Physical Singles Sales

As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 3 ratio between one album and one physical single.

Just like every other act from her generation, Alicia Keys got big when physical single sales went weak. Her breakthrough hit Fallin’ is pretty much the only exception to this fact as it enjoyed some solid sales in continental Europe. After No One era physical singles were truly dead. In total, the American pianist still sold 3,7 million units in this format which ain’t bad considering this abysmal market context.

Songs in A Minor (2001) – 525,000 equivalent albums

A Woman’s Worth – 150,000
Fallin’ – 1,500,000
Girlfriend – 50,000
How Come You Don’t Call Me – 50,000

The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003) – 96,000 equivalent albums

If I Ain’t Got You – 175,000
Karma – 25,000
You Don’t Know My Name – 120,000

As I Am (2007) – 135,000 equivalent albums

No One – 375,000
Like You’ll Never See Me Again & Superwoman & Teenage Love Affair – 75,000

The Element of Freedom (2009) – 15,000 equivalent albums

All Singles – 50,000

Orphan Album – 336,000 equivalent albums

My Boo – 500,000
Gangsta Lovin’ – 450,000
Brotha Part II – 20,000
Another Way to Die – 50,000
Empire State of Mind – 50,000
Remaining Singles – 50,000

Digital Singles Sales

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

It’s difficult to put one adjective to summarize Alicia Keys results in digital singles sales due to their repetitive inconsistency.

On one side, most of her albums only had one million selling single worldwide, although it has truly not been a difficult target during the last ten years. Actually, even 3 million isn’t such a high figure, almost anything Katy Perry, Bruno Mars or Rihanna drop reached that total. This has clearly been a tougher plateau to reach for the singer we are focusing on today as only four of her tracks made it.

On the other side, as catalog tracks both Fallin’ and If I Ain’t Got You totals are quite good. More, No One and Empire State Of Mind moved more than 20 million downloads combined, a terrific success. That tally doesn’t even include the near-3 million sales of Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down. 

Adding those huge smashes to all moderate hits and album tracks brings us to almost 58 million digital singles sales for the artist.

Songs in A Minor (2001) – 615,000 equivalent albums

A Woman’s Worth – 500,000
Fallin’ – 2,700,000
Remaining tracks – 900,000

The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003) – 825,000 equivalent albums

Diary – 400,000
If I Ain’t Got You – 3,500,000
Karma – 400,000
You Don’t Know My Name – 500,000
Remaining tracks – 700,000

As I Am (2007) – 2,130,000 equivalent albums

Like You’ll Never See Me Again – 2,300,000
No One – 9,300,000
Superwoman – 600,000
Teenage Love Affair – 700,000
Remaining tracks – 1,300,000

The Element of Freedom (2009) – 1,500,000 equivalent albums

Doesn’t Mean Anything – 1,600,000
Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down – 2,900,000
Put It in a Love Song – 700,000
Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart – 2,200,000
Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready) – 1,000,000
Remaining tracks – 1,600,000

Girl on Fire (2012) – 1,275,000 equivalent albums

Brand New Me – 700,000
Fire We Make – 400,000
Girl on Fire – 5,900,000
New Day – 600,000
Tears Always Win – 900,000
Remaining tracks –

Here (2016) – 30,000 equivalent albums

All tracks – 200,000

Orphan Album – 2,287,000 equivalent albums

My Boo – 1,900,000
Gangsta Lovin’ – 200,000
Fireworks – 250,000
Another Way to Die – 800,000
Empire State of Mind – 10,900,000
Remaining tracks – 1,200,000

Streaming Sales

The table below lists Spotify streaming of all songs from the five albums we are studying. The Comprehensive Streaming is reached by multiplying Spotify figures by 68/26. In fact, as shown in IFPI 2015 Report, there were 68 million paying subscribers to all streaming platforms by the end of 2015. While the exact count of Spotify paying subscribers by the end of 2015 is unknown, that figure reached 20 million in June 2015 and 30 million in March 2016, thus an estimated 26 million is used as of the end of 2015.

The equivalent album sales is the division of the comprehensive streaming figure by 1500 as it is now the norm in the new industry model.

Streaming Part 1 – Fast Start

It may come as a surprise but in streaming era The Diary of Alicia Keys tops Songs in A Minor. Both albums have quite similar results nevertheless, each with one huge hit, one average one plus decent album tracks at the same level of a few forgotten hits.

The time to write those lines and If I Ain’t Got You passed the huge 100 million streams milestone at Spotify.

In terms of equivalent album sales, both albums moved solid figures at 197,000 and 251,000 units respectively.


Streaming Part 2 – No One but her

Interestingly, As I Am reproduces exactly the same pattern as previous two sets . It contains one 70+ million hit, No One, its other singles are around 10 million and its album tracks sit in the 1 to 3 million range. Logically, its equivalent album sales are rather close than the other two at 264,000 units.

The Element Of Freedom is very unique among the artist discography. Rather than one smash hits, it contains four strong ones. At 69 million, Empire State Of Mind (Part II) already looks huge, but that figure doesn’t take into account the original version with Jay-Z that will appear within’ the next couple of pages. For sure, Spotify had started by 2009. Streams were still irrelevant at the time, meaning most listeners of those tracks did so in latter years. Thus, the album tops all its predecessors at 369,000 units without cheating, it is just bigger nowadays.


Streaming Part 3 – On Fire no more

With Girl On Fire we go back to Alicia Keys early albums pattern but translated into the streaming era where figures are higher overall. Thus, the 70+ million plays hit is Girl On Fire at 132 million, remaining singles are up to an average of more than 15 million rather than 10 million while album tracks are on 2 to 4 million. Overall, this equals to 390,000 units.

This implies a very, very atypical situation. Previously, we noted how each of the artist first five albums saw their album sales decrease in comparison to its predecessors. In streaming, this is very exactly the opposite with each album outperforming its previous album. While Girl On Fire case may be explained by the boom of streaming, this can’t be the root cause for the other albums trend. How to explain such a bizarre situation then? What happened is that her albums are rated as more and more consistent by her fans and black music lovers, which is why streams are favorable to latter records. In the other side, R&B music genre went from being the hottest thing on Earth to be a truly unfashioned style, decreasing a lot the interest of the general public which impacted negatively album sales as years went by.

Obviously, to maintain that increasing streak the last album Here still has plenty of work to do as it remains so far on a fairly weak 89,000 equivalent album units, although that’s a really nice addition to the album poor shipments.


Streaming Part 4 – Orphan Album

Orphan Album tracks are sometimes home for some of an artist biggest hits. That’s the case of Alicia Keys as this category adds to her catalog two sizable smashes, My Boo with Usher and Empire State Of Mind with Jay-Z.

This latter song in spite of spreading its streams within’ two well-known versions, ends up being the vocalist largest hit with Jay-Z version alone which stands at an incredible 147 million.


Full Length related records Sales

Alicia Keys released almost no material outside of her original studio albums. She mostly released live albums including the strong Unplugged album and music video.

How to understand this table? If you check for example Unplugged live album line, those figures mean it sold 2,000,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all songs included on this package add for 226 million streaming plays on Spotify as of November 17th 2016.

The second part at the right of the table shows how many streams are coming from each original album plus the share it represents on the overall package streams. Thus, streaming figures tell us Songs In A Minor songs are responsible for 38% of the Unplugged tracklist attractiveness, which means it generated 769,000 of its 2,000,000 album sales and so on for the other records.

Platinum Collection is a 3CD box containing the original first three albums, thus all its sales get awarded to each of those albums.


Alicia Keys Career CSPC Results

So, after checking all figures, how many overall album sales equivalent each Alicia Keys album achieved? Well, at this point we barely need to do the addition of all figures defined all over this article!

In the following results table, all categories display figures in equivalent album sales. If different, pure sales are listed between parentheses.

'Av.' stands for Average, 'LD' for Last Day.

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 1/6750 for Video stream)

Artist career totals

See where the artist ranks among remaining singers

This is it! For regular readers, you may be surprised at the relatively low increases from pure studio album sales to total CSPC sales. That result is mostly due to the absence of relevant other releases like strong selling compilations. While digital singles may be worth it, by themselves they aren’t strong enough to impact significantly totals of a strong album sellers.

In spite of a decreasing spiral, it is hard to highlight a precise breaking point in Alicia Keys’ popularity. Once again we can conclude on how the artist has never really disappointed her target audience of urban music followers, but instead that general public interest in that kind of music vanished year after year. No breaking point at least until Here that stands for now at a mere 8% of its predecessor’s total. The album is still quite new but things aren’t looking good.

Apart from the evolution of her popularity, we can point out the high figures of each albums on their own. The first three albums average 11,5 million equivalent album sales, not that far from, say, the average of 15 million from the first three Coldplay albums from the same period. This tops the 10 million average of Maroon 5 first three sets. This confirms Alicia Keys status among the very best sellers of the 00s. Her consistency must also be noticed. If all her albums decreased their predecessors performances, she went from 14,9 million to 5,9 million over four albums while Norah Jones for example started at 26,3 million but was down to 2,5 million by her fourth release.

In total, Alicia Keys sold 47,3 million equivalent albums. Already below artists that started years after her like Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga or even Drake, this is still a very solid tally, especially for a non-Pop/Rock artist.

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

Sources: IFPI, Spotify,

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