Frozen OST albums and songs sales
Winter is coming. No, it isn’t about the release of Game Of Thrones seventh season, you will have to wait a few more months for that. Every year, the week of Thanksgiving / Black Friday combo is regarded as the starting point of the so much anticipated holiday season. That part of the year strongly impacts our cultural environment. All medias turn on their Christmas program lists from November on. Music is no exception.
To celebrate this season, I wondered what was the best article to publish. I first though about pure Christmas acts like Mannheim Steamroller, Trans-Siberian Orchestra or more recently Pentatonix. Well, from a technical point of view, this may be a good subject but let’s be honest, very few people care about them. Then I though about standard acts who did wonders with a Christmas release a la Michael Buble, Mariah Carey or Josh Groban. We will have time to study them and they require an heavy amount of work so I decided to keep them for later. As I like going against expectations, I though about Frozen Soundtrack instead.
As strongly related to winter as it may be, this album isn’t a Christmas record. In fact, in 2014 it was Top 10 everywhere in the middle of the summer. Why that choice then? As I said in the introduction, Christmas season deeply impacts all branches of our culture. We do not only sing All I Want For Christmas Is You in December, we also use to watch Disney movies among other things.
The Disney industry has a very specific role in the music area with different patterns of production and promotion as they target a very young audience. Frozen appears to be the perfect case of study to reveal all those highlights. One of the most unexpected success stories in recent years, many things can be said about this album.
Obviously, that success was first a box office smash. The movie grossed $1,28 billion putting it in the Top 10 of all-time worldwide, although such a ranking is quite favorable to recent releases due to money inflation. What’s more, both the DVD and the Blu-ray combined have now eclipsed the absurd total of 20 million units sold in the US alone, plus about 15 million elsewhere. Impressive, no doubt. The Soundtrack too did wonders just like its singles, most notably Let It Go. How big was that album though? There have been pretty few radio airplay for its songs, its singers aren’t that well-known and basically no performance has been done in major TV shows to promote the record. Can an album really sell well with such a difficult background?
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!
Original Albums Sales
- US – 4,800,000
- Canada – 335,000
- Argentina – 75,000
- Brazil – 150,000
- Mexico -100,00
- Japan – 1,225,000
- Australia – 400,000
- New Zealand – 60,000
- Europe – 2,740,000
- UK – 1,150,000
- France – 440,000
- Germany – 425,000
- Italy – 45,000
- Spain – 45,000
- Sweden – N/A
- Netherland – 90,000
- Switzerland – 20,000
- Austria – 20,000
- Finland – N/A
- World – 10,900,000
Original Album Sales – Comments
2013 Frozen – 10,900,000
Only four albums topped the 10 million mark on pure album sales during the last five years, both Adele blockbusters 21 and 25, Michael Buble‘s Christmas and then Frozen. This simple fact alone puts the soundtrack among true massively successful records.
That success had mixed fortunes depending on the country though. In Japan, it moved more than 1,2 million units, the highest selling foreign album of the last 10 years. In Italy, the record needed more than a year to reach only Gold status. Why such a discrepancy?
A stronger worldwide appeal for movies than for music albums
To answer that question, I’ll first ask something else. Have you ever wondered why international movies are much bigger outside of the richest countries than international music?
There are two reasons for that. The first one is that you can sub-title a movie or even record voices again with the local language, which you can’t in popular music. Way back in the 60s, various artists used to record their songs in many languages to break new countries because English material wasn’t selling. Now that everyone can access to all songs thanks to internet, big pop acts aren’t going to issue songs in several languages of dubious quality. Just think about how credible would Bruno Mars be while singing in Japanese!
The second element explaining the largest worldwide appeal of movies is that it doesn’t require a record player. In the past, poor countries inhabitants had no money for luxury products like record players while buying a theater ticket times to times was affordable.
That wider appeal led soundtracks to be historically bigger in many countries than standard studio albums. It is no coincidence if up to 1979, the three best selling albums ever, Sound Of Music, Grease and Saturday Night Fever, were all soundtracks.
As a global company publishing movies, Disney has been very well installed in many countries for long. They clearly know how to run their business and know about movies specificities. They also know that while adults may buy an album as soon as they can dance to it or like the rhythm, kids need to sing-along the track to enjoy it. They understood as well that the relationship created between a person and a movie when he watches it replaces the relationship a fan will have with his favorite singers. As a result, Disney soundtracks do not need popular acts to be part of them, unknown singers may be just as successful. The huge advantage with unknown singers is that you can switch the vocalist from one country to another.
Just put all those background elements together. If a Disney movie hits big – which happens quite often – a soundtrack translated into numerous local languages will be a real dark horse to crush the competition. That’s exactly how they handled the Frozen album. The single Let It Go has been issued in as many as 42 different languages!
Wait, what about Italy ?
True, let’s come back to Italy’s case. You may wonder “ok, an album which is near a local album in all countries pushed by a huge hit movie may sell well, but then why hasn’t it done too well in Italy?”.
This happened in countries where physical album sales have been collapsing a lot for many years and where digital sales never took off, which is the case of Italy. Both facts combined mean almost nobody under 30 ever had the habit to buy albums there, thus the average age of records consumers is fairly high, which obviously limits a lot sales of a product like Frozen.
Digital Singles Sales
Expectedly, there is no physical singles sales category for this era as that format was dead for long when the soundtrack came out. Digital sales were there though.
To be honest, this is extremely difficult to track sales of Frozen tracks. With Let It Go being released in various languages, finding it on charts gets really painful. For many markets, data is also completely missing. This impacts more the distribution between Complete Set tracks than the overall total which is on its side fairly under control.
All in all, that’s an amazing 29 million download sales for Frozen songs, an unbelievable result considering it really only had one single and that this song peaked at only #5 in the US, #11 in the UK, #16 in Australia and #18 in Canada. Its superb consistency during more than a year, the fact its sales were spread over various versions and its large worldwide appeal still created incredible totals.
Fully part of the Frozen franchise, Let It Go Complete Set sales will be added to the soundtrack in the final total.
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 1 ratio between one album and one digital single.
Frozen (2013) – 3,795,000 equivalent albums
Idina Menzel – Let It Go – 9,400,000
Demi Lovato – Let It Go – 2,500,000
Do You Want To Build A Snowman – 4,300,000
For The First Time In Forever – 2,900,000
Love Is An Open Door – 2,300,000
Remaining tracks – 3,900,000
Let It Go Complete Set (2013) – 546,000 equivalent albums
ありのままで (Japanese) – 1,600,000
다 잊어 (Korean) – 400,000
Libre Soy (Spanish) – 300,000
Libérée, Délivrée (French) – 140,000
Remaining tracks – 1,200,000
Below table 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.
Part 1 – Not that cold
The original Frozen album is made of two main sections. The first one contains 8 new songs, from Let It Go to Fixer Upper. Each of them has 19 million streams or more. This showing turns out to be even more impressive when we consider album tracks aren’t available for stream since many months. Obviously, the leading song of the album is Let It Go which cracks 250 million when combining Demi Lovato and Idina Menzel versions.
The second section of the record is made of 22 Christopher Beck score instrumentals. All of them are over 3 million streams, once again an impressive result for such material.
In total, all songs together add for 1,1 million equivalent album sales when converted. Guess what? We aren’t done with the album streaming results.
Part 2 – Deluxe Success
If the track list of the original album is already quite extensive, there is more as the record was also issued in a Deluxe version containing various outtakes. In several strong local countries, the complete album was translated like in France as shown in this table.
Part 3 – Let It Gooooo
Here is the never-ending list of local Let It Go versions.
Thanks to them, we can notice two limitations in the data I’m posting. The first one is the absence of various full local albums on Spotify like the Korean or the Japanese version of the album, with only the single available. A second limitation is the fact I’m extending Spotify figures.
While this method is very fine for most artists as international stars have a streaming distribution similar to Spotify distribution, which is logical since the company deploys its platform in main countries first, it isn’t the same for local languages songs.
If you check the Korean version of Let It Go, you will notice it has 254,000 streams on Spotify, leading us to a calculated total across all platforms of 664,000 plays. As per South Korean GAON charts, that song got as many as 7,4 million streams in that country within’ the first two months of the movie release, an estimated 18 million to date. This is obviously much more than the figure suggested by Spotify. Why? Quite simply because this software is pretty minor in Asia with other local streaming services being much bigger, which corrupts the data of tracks aired only locally. In the other side, Spotify is utterly dominant in its local market Sweden which creates an inflation.
After studying the distribution of the software in main countries compared to the Soundtrack success, I’ll add 150,000 equivalent album sales to compensate both the missing tracks and the largely deflated impact of its Asian smash.
Full Length related records Sales
First, I was going to remove that section as clearly there is no live or compilation album of Frozen. Then, I reminded about that old Disney habit of issuing Karaoke albums.
I mentioned earlier how kids like to sing along tracks they like. Once again Disney company knows that stuff and use this favorable context to issue Karaoke albums for popular franchises.
Rarely notable sellers, the one of Frozen sold a huge 1,1 million units. To be fully transparent, that figure has a larger margin of error than usually. With the lack of experience we have on such packages to gauge sales in minor market plus the translated titles constraints, it is hard to identify precise figures. It sold over 800,000 units in the US and the UK only though so there is really no utopic guess.
Frozen Soundtrack CSPC Results
So, after checking all figures, how many overall equivalent album sales Frozen Soundtrack achieved? Well, at this point we barely need to do the addition of all figures defined all over this article!
In the following table, all categories display figures that way, e.g. in equivalent album sales. For example, singles released in digital format sold the equivalent of 4,341,000 albums – 28,940,000 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)
Up to this day, the album remains a huge catalog seller. Frozen 2 is also in the making at the moment and a best of eating its sales is more than unlikely since singers featured on it are diverse and not well known. All those elements are going to push Frozen results higher and higher in upcoming months and years.
I apologize if you get Let It Go sticking on your mind for hours due to this article! Now that your reading is complete, you may start thinking about buying Christmas gifts. 😉
As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!
Sources: IFPI, Spotify, Chartmasters.org.