Kelly Clarkson albums and songs sales

It has now been 15 years since Kelly Clarkson dropped her debut album, Thankful. Of course, she came to fame through the much hyped TV show American Idol. The first winner of the series, the pop star did more than honor her initial record deal. How does she compete against major stars of this millennium though?

Foto Divulgação - Kelly Clarkson

While selling well with a first single was a given, confirming that success throughout more than a decade was much harder. So was breaking over the global market. It’s clear that Breakaway did wonders. How much has it sold exactly? Also, how well have performed subsequent records like Stronger and Piece by Piece? Last but not least, where does her most recent effort Meaning of Life rank inside of her discography?

As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to relevantly gauge her results. This concept will not only bring you sales information for all Clarkson‘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, the next page explains it with a short video. I fully recommend watching the video before getting into the sales figures. Of course, if you are a regular visitor feel free to skip the video and get into the figures.

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!

Original Albums Sales

Thankful (2003)

Thankful Album.PNG
  • America
    • US – 2,900,000
    • Canada – 180,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 10,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – 165,000
    • Japan – 105,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 70,000
    • New Zealand – 7,500
  • Europe – 250,000
    • UK – 160,000
    • France – N/A
    • Germany – N/A
    • Italy – N/A
    • Spain – N/A
    • Sweden – N/A
    • Netherlands – 7,500
    • Switzerland – N/A
    • Austria – N/A
    • Finland – N/A
  • World – 3,630,000

Breakaway (2004)

A brunette haired woman with her hands covering her ears in a grunge white background, in her right, the words "Kelly Clarkson" and "Breakaway" are printed in front of a vector scroll art.
  • America
    • US – 6,500,000
    • Canada – 620,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 80,000
    • Mexico – 100,000
  • Asia – 225,000
    • Japan – 100,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 500,000
    • New Zealand – 55,000
  • Europe – 2,660,000
    • UK – 1,620,000
    • France – 60,000
    • Germany – 380,000
    • Italy – 12,500
    • Spain – 12,500
    • Sweden – 75,000
    • Netherlands – 95,000
    • Switzerland – 50,000
    • Austria – 35,000
    • Finland – 14,000
  • World – 10,980,000

My December (2007)

My December Album.PNG
  • America
    • US – 880,000
    • Canada – 90,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 20,000
    • Mexico – 12,500
  • Asia – 65,000
    • Japan – 32,500
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 70,000
    • New Zealand – 7,500
  • Europe – 330,000
    • UK – 155,000
    • France – 2,500
    • Germany – 85,000
    • Italy – 2,000
    • Spain – 2,000
    • Sweden – 5,000
    • Netherlands – 12,500
    • Switzerland – 10,000
    • Austria – 7,500
    • Finland – 2,000
  • World – 1,510,000

All I Ever Wanted (2009)

Kelly Clarkson - All I Ever Wanted (Official Album Cover).png
  • America
    • US – 1,020,000
    • Canada – 90,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 10,000
    • Mexico – 10,000
  • Asia – 70,000
    • Japan – 37,500
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 90,000
    • New Zealand – 7,500
  • Europe – 420,000
    • UK – 205,000
    • France – 2,000
    • Germany – 100,000
    • Italy – 5,000
    • Spain – 5,000
    • Sweden – 7,500
    • Netherlands – 17,500
    • Switzerland – 10,000
    • Austria – 7,500
    • Finland – 2,000
  • World – 1,750,000

Stronger (2011)

A woman holding a golden strip in her fist next to her mouth
  • America
    • US – 1,140,000
    • Canada – 100,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 10,000
    • Mexico – 10,000
  • Asia – 30,000
    • Japan – 15,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 100,000
    • New Zealand – 12,500
  • Europe – 390,000
    • UK – 275,000
    • France – 3,000
    • Germany – 55,000
    • Italy – 2,500
    • Spain – 1,500
    • Sweden – 2,000
    • Netherlands – 5,000
    • Switzerland – 6,000
    • Austria – 5,000
    • Finland – N/A
  • World – 1,830,000

Wrapped in Red (2013)

A blonde haired woman whose neck is wrapped in a red scarf looking sideways against a dark background; below her, the word-marks "Kelly Clarkson" and "Wrapped in" are printed in stylized "Feel Script" and "Bree" typefaces aside a red ribbon-styled "Red" word-mark.
  • America
    • US – 965,000
    • Canada – 90,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 3,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – 5,000
    • Japan – 2,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 25,000
    • New Zealand – 2,000
  • Europe – 40,000
    • UK – 20,000
    • France – N/A
    • Germany – 10,000
    • Italy – N/A
    • Spain – N/A
    • Sweden – N/A
    • Netherlands – 1,000
    • Switzerland – 1,000
    • Austria – N/A
    • Finland – N/A
  • World – 1,140,000

Piece by Piece (2015)

  • America
    • US – 295,000
    • Canada – 22,500
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 15,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – 5,000
    • Japan – 3,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 15,000
    • New Zealand – 2,000
  • Europe – 80,000
    • UK – 50,000
    • France – 1,000
    • Germany – 12,500
    • Italy – 500
    • Spain – 1,000
    • Sweden – 1,000
    • Netherlands – 1,500
    • Switzerland – 1,250
    • Austria – 1,000
    • Finland – N/A
  • World – 460,000

Meaning of Life (2017)

A picture of Clarkson looking sideways; on the upper left, the album's title "Meaning of Life" are printed in a wrapped circular path
  • America
    • US – 220,000
    • Canada – 17,500
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 7,500
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – 3,000
    • Japan – 2,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 5,000
    • New Zealand – 500
  • Europe – 30,000
    • UK – 15,000
    • France – 1,000
    • Germany – 5,000
    • Italy – 500
    • Spain – 500
    • Sweden – 500
    • Netherlands – 1,000
    • Switzerland – 500
    • Austria – 1,000
    • Finland – N/A
  • World – 300,000

Original Album Sales – Comments

A few years ago, it was possible to tag as flops recent albums of Clarkson. After selling nearly 11 million copies of Breakaway, she was unable to reach even 2 million. Now that she is up to 8 albums, we understand that the 2004 blockbuster was the exception rather than the rule.

In fact, ignoring that record we notice that Clarkson‘s trajectory is fairly consistent, although most recent releases are struggling in sales. My December is still a huge bomb. It sold less than 15% of its immediate predecessor and even with the decreasing market, its 2 follow ups outsold it.

At the end of the day, sales of 21,6 million units across 8 studio albums is very respectable in this day and age.

2003 Thankful – 3,630,000
2004 Breakaway – 10,980,000
2007 My December – 1,510,000
2009 All I Ever Wanted – 1,750,000
2011 Stronger – 1,830,000
2013 Wrapped in Red – 1,140,000
2015 Piece by Piece – 460,000
2017 Meaning of Life – 300,000

Physical Singles Sales

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

From 2001 to late 00s, winners of singing TV series were surefire smashes on physical formats in all relevant markets. Freshly off from her victory on American Idol, Kelly Clarkson issued her much hyped debut single, A Moment Like This. It was far and away the highest selling US single of 2002.

Subsequent singles had traditional releases: they had no CD release in the US, but they came out in Europe and Australia instead. Several of them were successful, most notably Because of You which sold 420,000 units. After Already Gone, her singles started to be released in digital formats only except a few exceptions.

All in all, the vocalist sold over 2,2 million units in this format.

Thankful (2003) – 278,000 equivalent albums

A Moment Like This – 670,000
Miss Independent – 150,000
Low – 50,000
The Trouble with Love Is – 55,000

Breakaway (2004) – 315,000 equivalent albums

Breakaway – 120,000
Since U Been Gone – 310,000
Behind These Hazel Eyes – 140,000
Because of You – 420,000
Walk Away – 60,000

My December (2007) – 19,000 equivalent albums

Never Again – 60,000
One Minute – 2,000
Don’t Waste Your Time – 2,500

All I Ever Wanted (2009) – 36,000 equivalent albums

My Life Would Suck Without You – 100,000
I Do Not Hook Up – 10,000
Already Gone – 10,000

Stronger (2011) – 12,000 equivalent albums

Mr. Know It All – 35,000
What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) – 10,000

Wrapped in Red (2013) – 0 equivalent album

No physical single released.

Piece by Piece (2015) – 1,000 equivalent albums

Heartbeat Song – 3,000

Meaning of Life (2017) – 0 equivalent album

No physical single released.

Orphan – 0 equivalent album

No orphan physical single released.

Digital Singles Sales

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

The 00s

Do you know that Clarkson‘s debut album Thankful was released 13 days before the arrival of iTunes Store? Obviously, digital sales were near-inexistent by then. By 2006, they were starting to be significant, although still only a third of their later peak of 2012. Under those circumstances, exactly 30 months passed until the first million selling download in the US way back in October 2005. Two months later, a second song made it past a milli: Clarkson‘s Since U Been Gone. By late 2008, she was the second artist with the most million sellers, topped only by Rihanna.

If her singles, most notably those of Breakaway, were massive successes in the US, they weren’t always as big elsewhere. If we exclude Because of You, they sold more than 75% of their units there. That hit was a global blockbuster though, selling 7,7 million units globally. It did so thanks to huge initial impact and lasting appeal as it was impossible to sell that much back then. In total, Breakaway‘s songs sold close to 21 million downloads and ringtones making it one of the first monster-digital seller.

My December bombed hard. With a market growing fast, it failed miserably to produce hits. Combined, its songs sold 10 times less than titles from its predecessors in spite of a market that almost tripled. My Life Would Suck Without You was a nice comeback for the artist, opening the way to a decently successful era. That one originated 3 million sellers.

Thankful (2003) – 573,000 equivalent albums

The Trouble with Love Is – 360,000
Miss Independent – 1,560,000
Low – 140,000
A Moment Like This – 1,180,000
Before Your Love – 420,000
Remaining tracks – 160,000

Breakaway (2004) – 3,143,000 equivalent albums

Breakaway – 3,180,000
Since U Been Gone – 4,840,000
Behind These Hazel Eyes – 2,380,000
Because of You – 7,740,000
Because of You (with Reba McEntire) – 780,000
Walk Away – 1,820,000
Remaining tracks – 210,000

My December (2007) – 312,000 equivalent albums

Never Again – 1,710,000
Remaining tracks – 370,000

All I Ever Wanted (2009) – 1,446,000 equivalent albums

My Life Would Suck Without You – 5,360,000
I Do Not Hook Up – 1,240,000
Already Gone – 2,550,000
Remaining tracks – 490,000

The 10s and orphan songs

With downloads reaching their peak in 2012, the era Stronger did well in that format. The title track was huge, selling close to 8 million units. Mr. Know It All and Don’t You Wanna Stay sold over 3 million copies each. The era was responsible for more than 17 million sales.

Wrapped in Red isn’t the kind of albums that get strong hits, which is visible in its results. Piece by Piece got two million sellers which isn’t that bad for a 2015 album that is largely seen as a flop. Then, songs of Meaning Of Life are being non-events so far.

Clarkson has sold over 62 million digital units up to date. Her strongest sales avenues are US downloads at over 36 million, South Korean downloads at 7 million and US ringtones at 5 million.

Stronger (2011) – 2,574,000 equivalent albums

Mr. Know It All – 3,820,000
What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) – 7,970,000
Dark Side – 1,070,000
Don’t You Wanna Stay – 3,160,000
I Forgive You – 820,000
Remaining tracks – 320,000

Wrapped in Red (2013) – 102,000 equivalent albums

Underneath the Tree – 360,000
Remaining tracks – 320,000

Piece by Piece (2015) – 423,000 equivalent albums

Heartbeat Song – 1,570,000
Piece by Piece – 1,010,000
Remaining tracks – 240,000

Meaning of Life (2017) – 69,000 equivalent albums

Love So Soft – 360,000
Remaining tracks – 100,000

Orphan – 660,000 equivalent albums

Catch My Breath – 2,450,000
People Like Us – 730,000
Don’t Rush – 460,000
Tie It Up – 210,000
Remaining tracks – 550,000

Streaming Sales

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

Streaming Part 1

Unsurprisingly, hits from Breakaway remain much more popular than those of Thankful. The teen pop early hits are mostly ignored nowadays. A Moment Like This and Miss Independent register 15 million streams on Spotify each, a very modest number for 2003 hits. The album totals 65,000 EAS from streams.

The sophomore era is a completely different story. Because of You and Since U Been Gone combine for a stunning 300 million streams on Spotify. The former is also a monster at YouTube with more than 572 million views. Breakaway and Behind These Hazel Eyes lost ground lately but they remain solid at 60 million and 34 million, respectively. Furthermore, albums cuts also perform well with streams ranging from 2 to 5 million. The album closes its streaming count at 563,000 EAS.

Streaming Part 2

Album sales, downloads, now streams, there is truly no way to find positive indicators about My December. Its performances on streaming area are chaotic. Never Again will still need many months before reaching 10 million on Spotify while everything else is just horrendous. A 2007 album follow up of a 10+ million seller, it registers a mere 24,000 EAS from streams. Outch.

All I Ever Wanted does much better. My Life… is now comfortably over 50 million, half of the total of the album. Various of its album tracks are currently unavailable on Spotify, but they did enjoy some plays before this removal. The LP stands on 144,000 EAS from streams.

Stronger is once again a strong improvement. What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) is still quite hot at 165 million Spotify streams to date. The remaining 3 singles are nowhere near as strong but they still stand on 20-32 million each, while album tracks stand at 10% of that level. This era is worth 368,000 EAS on this format.

Streaming Part 3

Results of Wrapped In Red aren’t bad but not good either. Underneath the Tree is its largest hit at 44 million streams. On its side, Silent Night has the most YouTube hits at 19 million.

Piece by Piece was Clarkson‘s first album to be released during the streaming era. That’s why Heartbeat Song belongs to her most streamed songs even if it was nowhere near her biggest hit overall. The song stands on 134 million streams on Spotify and 87 million on YouTube. The title track is a decent runner up. Additional songs are very weak by 2015’s standards. At 314,000 EAS from streams, the album almost match its pure sales with streaming units.

Then comes Meaning of Life. Issued nearly 7 months ago, with streams hotter than ever, the context was perfect for this album to secure large sales from this avenue. So far, it lies on 100,000 EAS. That’s more than 3 times less than its predecessor in spite of the booming market. It’s also less than 5 of her previous 7 LPs. These tragic results are even more negative when we know that streams represent the youngest audience of music enthusiasts.

Streaming Part 4

With a career of 15 years, it’s logical to see various orphan songs appearing in this lists. Outtakes, live songs, singles for compilations, we are talking about as many as 37 recordings. The biggest of them is Catch My Breath which records 42,000 EAS, nearly a third of the total of these songs.

Full Length related record 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.

How to understand this table? If you check this example, these figures mean Greatest Hits – Chapter One sold 1,300,000 units worldwide. Then, the second statistics column means streams of all the songs included on this package add for 1,077,989 EAS.

The second part at the right of the table shows how many streams are coming from each original album as well as the share they represent. Thus, streaming figures tell us Breakaway songs are responsible for 50% of the Greatest Hits – Chapter One tracklist attractiveness. In other words, it generated 651,000 of its 1,300,000 album sales. Eventually, we apply this methodology to all compilations.

BONUS: Total Album (all types) Sales per Country

  • America
    • US – 14,690,000
    • Canada – 1,295,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 165,000
    • Mexico – 160,000
  • Asia – 590,000
    • Japan – 310,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 945,000
    • New Zealand – 105,000
  • Europe – 4,520,000
    • UK – 2,740,000
    • France – 80,000
    • Germany – 705,000
    • Italy – 25,000
    • Spain – 25,000
    • Sweden – 105,000
    • Netherlands – 145,000
    • Switzerland – 85,000
    • Austria – 60,000
    • Finland – 20,000
  • World – 22,920,000

Please note that some of the countries totals may be slightly incomplete when the figure is N/A for minor releases. Countries with too much missing information to be precise enough are listed as N/A.

KELLY CLARKSON CAREER CSPC RESULTS

So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album by Kelly Clarkson achieved? Well, at this point we hardly need to add up all of the figures defined in 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


Conclusions

In the vein of Sheryl Crow, Brandy or Faith Hill, Kelly Clarkson is a consistent US seller that happened to get a once-in-a-lifetime success at some point, both in her country and abroad. Someway, Breakaway is bigger than her. This album is up to 15,7 million equivalent album sales overall, an immense number for a singer who’s name is barely known in various relevant markets. It continues to enjoy great numbers in all fronts, securing it a nice future.

My December is one of the biggest flops we have met so far. With that album, Kelly Clarkson decided she didn’t wanted to be a singer-only anymore. She wrote all its songs and refused the help of legendary producers like Max MartinDr. Luke. Not only the record generated 8 times less sales than its predecessor, resulting in heavy returns to the label, the arena tour was also cancelled. Once newly scaled, it featured only 3,000-ish sits arenas, which barely sold out. The album is also her worst rated at Allmusic.com.

The duo of producers was called back for All I Ever Wanted following this disaster. They offered My Life Would Suck Without You to Kelly Clarkson for the results we know. Kelly Clarkson lost her fight against the pop culture. Her comeback was confirmed with Stronger which managed to top the success of Thankful.

The last 3 efforts add for barely 2 million EAS combined. If we can forget about Wrapped in Red since it is a Christmas release, the remaining two show vertiginous declines from their immediate predecessors. Statistics of Meaning of Life are especially worrying. After 7 months, the album has yet to cross half a million units across all formats combined.

So far, Kelly Clarkson has shifted 34,9 million equivalent album sales. While we can’t put her in the same league as Rihanna, Britney Spears, Beyoncé or Taylor Swift, her career’s total is highly respectable. To put it differently, back in 2002 not many would have bet she would reach those numbers.

To go deeper…

Thanks to our new ASR (Artist Success Rating) concept, we know that her sales represent 12,32 million times the purchase of her entire discography (equivalent discography sales). Coupled with her total sales, it translates into an ASR score is 117, almost on par with Amy Winehouse.

Additionally, the following sections list her most successful songs as well as her records and achievements.

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

Sources: IFPI, Spotify, YouTube, Discogs, Chartmasters.org.

KELLY CLARKSON’S BIGGEST TRACKS

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. 2004 – Kelly ClarksonBecause of You [Breakaway]6,630,000
2. 2004 – Kelly ClarksonSince U Been Gone [Breakaway]4,400,000
3. 2011 – Kelly ClarksonWhat Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) [Stronger]2,760,000
4. 2004 – Kelly ClarksonBreakaway [Breakaway]2,230,000
5. 2009 – Kelly ClarksonMy Life Would Suck Without You [All I Ever Wanted]1,840,000
6. 2002 – Kelly ClarksonA Moment Like This [Thankful]1,640,000
7. 2004 – Kelly ClarksonBehind These Hazel Eyes [Breakaway]1,370,000
8. 2003 – Kelly ClarksonMiss Independent [Thankful]1,360,000
9. 2007 – Kelly ClarksonNever Again [My December]1,090,000
10. 2009 – Kelly ClarksonAlready Gone [All I Ever Wanted]910,000

Records & Achievements

  • With 605,000 units sold, A Moment Like This/Before Your Love was the highest selling physical single of 2002 in the US.
  • On Billboard’s chart dated December 31st, 2005, Since U Been Gone was the second ever download to sell a million units in the US.
  • At 15,715,000 EAS, Breakaway is the most successful female album of 2004. Furthermore, it is 5th overall.
  • At 6,630,000 EAS, Because of You is among the 5 most successful songs of 2004.

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