Macklemore (& Ryan Lewis) albums and songs sales

Macklemore  is special. How many artists can claim multiple Hot 100 #1 hits while building their entire career by themselves? Actually, he is the only one. After a dozen years trying to step up into the music business his album The Heist was a major success.

Macklemore on Chase Jarvis Live

The fact Macklemore independently released his entire discography shouldn’t be overlooked. Warner Bros Records did jump on the bandwagon to promote Thrift Shop but that was only after seeing all its potential. Before that, the singer went on to release countless songs, including some EPs and one album, until crossing over onto the big scene.

The solo album The Language of My World, issued in 2005, only sold a few thousands of copies. Just like Eminem or Katy Perry‘s early albums, this LP will be treated as part of the Orphan Album category. Then came The Heist which included the two massive hits Thrift Shop and Can’t Hold Us. Since this era we haven’t heard much from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, although they released one more album in 2016, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made. Macklemore is currently busy promoting his new effort Gemini, released without the contribution of Lewis.

How big really was The Heist? Are sales of its follow ups really so anonymous? Will Macklemore remain a one-album wonder?

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

The Heist (2012)

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "macklemore the heist"
  • America
    • US – 1,550,000
    • Canada – 180,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – N/A
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – N/A
    • Japan – N/A
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 175,000
    • New Zealand – 25,000
  • Europe – 760,000
    • UK – 210,000
    • France – 135,000
    • Germany – 210,000
    • Italy – 25,000
    • Spain – 10,000
    • Sweden – 15,000
    • Netherland – 15,000
    • Switzerland – 20,000
    • Austria – 15,000
    • Finland – N/A
  • World – 2,800,000

This Unruly Mess I’ve Made (2016)

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "macklemore this unruly mess i've made"
  • America
    • US – 125,000
    • Canada – 15,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – N/A
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – N/A
    • Japan – N/A
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 30,000
    • New Zealand – 5,000
  • Europe – 110,000
    • UK – 25,000
    • France – 10,000
    • Germany – 40,000
    • Italy – 4,000
    • Spain – 1,000
    • Sweden – 1,000
    • Netherland – 4,000
    • Switzerland – 4,000
    • Austria – 3,000
    • Finland – N/A
  • World – 300,000

Gemini (2017)

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "macklemore gemini"
  • America
    • US – 50,000
    • Canada – 7,500
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – N/A
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – N/A
    • Japan – N/A
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 12,500
    • New Zealand – 2,000
  • Europe – 40,000
    • UK – 5,000
    • France – 5,000
    • Germany – 12,500
    • Italy – 3,000
    • Spain – 1,000
    • Sweden – 2,000
    • Netherland – 3,000
    • Switzerland – 1,500
    • Austria – 1,000
    • Finland – N/A
  • World – 125,000

Original Album Sales – Comments

2012 The Heist – 2,800,000
2016 This Unruly Mess I’ve Made – 300,000
2017 Gemini – 125,000

It’s easy to criticize those figures by labeling them week. There is no doubt that This Unruly Mess I’ve Made was a major bomb. Sales of The Heist are very strong though. Obviously, 2,8 million sales pales in comparison to sales achieved some years earlier by others, but that is to be expected given consumers changed their way of investing in music.

The Heist exploded in 2013 and by then people were already not investing into new artists as far as album sales were concerned. Artists that were still selling well were artists with a fan base already established, artists who had followers that were continuing to build their collection. Fresh new urban acts weren’t going to sell well, even less so nowadays. They simply appeal to a target audience that have never purchased an album in their life. To gauge their success digital numbers are way more relevant.

Physical Singles Sales

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

Unsurprisingly, very few singles from Macklemore have been released in physical format. Here they are with estimated total sales of 75,000.

The Heist (2012) – 21,000 equivalent albums

Can’t Hold Us – 35,000
Thrift Shop – 35,000

Orphan – 2,000 equivalent albums

Arrows – 5,000

Digital Singles Sales

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

With only one truly successful era, reaching almost 40 million digital sales is pretty massive. The two monsters are obviously Thrift Shop and Can’t Hold Us with respectively 13,36 million and 9,8 million singles sales,. This was achieved with an extremely weak ringtones market and a deep lack of appeal in South Korea. The gay anthem Same Love is a strong third at 4,54 million. Both White Walls and Downtown are over 2 million. This latter song is the only one that has been really exploited from This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, which in part explains its rough results.

The Heist (2012) – 4,938,000 equivalent albums

Can’t Hold Us – 9,800,000
Thrift Shop – 13,360,000
Same Love – 4,540,000
White Walls – 2,550,000
Wings – 770,000
Remaining tracks – 1,900,000

This Unruly Mess I’ve Made (2016) – 353,000 equivalent albums

Downtown – 2,100,000
Remaining tracks – 250,000

Gemini (2017) – 135,000 equivalent albums

Glorious – 590,000
Marmalade – 80,000
Good Old Days – 180,000
Remaining tracks – 50,000

Orphan – 465,000 equivalent albums

And We Danced – 800,000
Arrows – 700,000
Otherside – 500,000
Remaining tracks – 1,100,000

Streaming Sales

Streaming is made up of two families – audio and video. 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 132 million of the 212 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) = 212/132 * Spotify streams / 1500 + YouTube views / 11750

Part 1

Both Thrift Shop and Can’t Hold Us confirm their status as gigantic smashes with more than 1,2 million equivalent album sales from their streams combined. It is interesting to see that while Thrift Shop was at first bigger, as seen in its download sales and its YouTube views, but Can’t Hold Us is now maintaining a higher pace of streams as seen in its Spotify tally.

Same Love and White Walls are both over 100 million on Spotify while the full original track list tops 10 million. Overall, The Heist has 1,86 million EAS from streams. This is truly massive for an album issued in 2012. As a comparison point, Rihanna‘s Unapologetic, released at the same time and owner of Diamonds and Stay, is on 1,44 million so far.

Streams of This Unruly Mess I’ve Made and Gemini are very interesting. While both bombed hard in terms of pure album sales, their streams are far from being that bad. Downtown and Glorious are both over 200 million on Spotify and both albums have additional songs in the 10-50 million range. They are over 400,000 EAS each with Gemini still very early on its promotion and going strong so far.

Part 2

It’s frequent to see independent artists with tons of Orphan songs. Releasing a proper full length album is expensive and every new stand-alone song is an opportunity to get revenue which concludes on this situation. Thus Macklemore has tons of songs outside of his studio albums. Several of them achieved some success with the biggest of all being And We Danced. This song, first issued in 2009, has 66 million streams on Spotify and 150 million views on YouTube. Combined these songs are worth 317,000 EAS.

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.

As we can see, Macklemore released a few items outside of the main 3 studio albums studied so far. They are independent releases once again, all coming before the release of The Heist so with only Orphan songs included.

Macklemore Career CSPC Results

So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album by Macklemore 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

On its way to breaking the 10 million barrier, The Heist is undoubtedly one of the biggest albums of the decade. The album has been strong in every possible avenue of sales and continues to do very well on streaming services.

Both This Unruly Mess I’ve Made and Gemini have been flagged as huge flops. The former definitely is, but it is slowly improving things thanks to decent streaming numbers. The latter still has plenty of time to catch up and will most likely top its immediate predecessor which is already a nice achievement considering the massive tumble that happened between the previous albums.

The combined total of Macklemore is 12,2 million equivalent album sales so far. Time will tell what will happen in the future, but we are ready to bet he isn’t going to leave the radar as soon as his 2016 album suggested. What about you?

The following sections list his most successful songs as well as his records and achievements.

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

Sources: IFPI, Universal-Vivendi, Spotify, YouTube,


The list of most successful songs is compiled in album equivalent sales generated by each of them. It includes the song’s own physical singles sales with a 0,3 weighting, its download and streaming sales, and with appropriate weighting too, plus its share among sales of all albums on which it is featured.

1 2012 – Thrift Shop [The Heist] – 3,320,000
2 2011 – Can’t Hold Us [The Heist] – 3,220,000
3 2012 – Same Love [The Heist] – 1,190,000
4 2015 – Downtown [This Unruly Mess I’ve Made] – 740,000
5 2012 – White Walls [The Heist] – 700,000

Records & Achievements

  • At 9,62 million equivalent album sales, The Heist is one of the 10 most successful albums from 2012.
  • At 13,36 million downloads and ringtones sold, Thrift Shop is one of the 10 highest selling song from 2012.
  • At 583 million Spotify streams, Can’t Hold Us is one of the 10 highest streamed songs from 2012.
  • Macklemore is the only act in chart history with multiple independent releases that topped the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

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