Madonna albums and songs sales

The Queen of Pop. Madonna is widely recognized as the biggest female star of all-time. As you know if you have been following Chartmasters.org for long, we created the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to validate or not those assumptions.

CSPC Madonna

Applying it to historical albums and young popular artists helped us to understand that album sales aren’t the only valid indicator of popularity both because of the impact of various compilations and of large singles sales. Some artists have been able to pull great numbers in all fronts.

One perfect example appears to be Madonna. Consequently, it is time to apply this concept on this case which involves both situations combined to see how much it impacts our perception of each album popularity.

In fact, the American superstar had strong singles sales all over her career as well as notorious compilations downgrading a lot catalog results of her original albums.

No one can seriously doubt Madonna‘s popularity, just like no one can seriously argue against the fact she is the best selling female artist of all-time. One ranking on which she is often overshadowed by several of her peers yet is the best selling studio album by a female artist.

Incredibly enough, Whitney Houston, Shania Twain, Alanis Morissette, Celine Dion, Adele, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Norah Jones and soon both Tracy Chapman and Carole King all have at least one studio album that outsold every Madonna‘s studio set. The latter biggest seller, True Blue, ends up being pushed out of the all-time Top 10 female studio albums.

While an unexperienced eye would conclude that Madonna never really had a true massive hit album, others will notice most of those female artists had one standout album that was well other the par inside their own discography. This situation is clearly favorable to the one-off record that keeps getting enduring catalog appeal – which is precisely why Tracy Chapman and Carole King blockbusters are now passing by True Blue – while the extensive career of Madonna makes compilations more relevant to the casual buyer.

Indeed, the singer outsold all other previously mentioned females minus Celine Dion by over 2 to 1 in terms of compilation sales. No need to say she also outsold all those females in terms of physical singles sales by a considerable margin.

Considering this context, merging results of all her records ends up being absolutely necessary to properly define how successful – or unsuccessful! – her albums have been. If there is little doubt that True Blue would appear into a Top 10 most successful, in opposition to best selling, female studio albums list it is interesting to know how high it would be and if additional Madonna‘s albums can climb into those high waters as well.

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

Madonna (1983)

  • America
    • US – 5,200,000
    • Canada – 350,000
    • Argentina – 150,000
    • Brazil – N/A
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – 630,000
    • Japan – 400,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 250,000
    • New Zealand – 40,000
  • Europe – 2,450,000
    • UK – 800,000
    • France – 375,000
    • Germany – 300,000
    • Italy – 260,000
    • Spain – 75,000
    • Sweden – 25,000
    • Netherland – 130,000
    • Switzerland – N/A
    • Austria – 25,000
    • Finland – 15,000
  • World – 9,625,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Like A Virgin (1984)

  • America
    • US – 10,300,000
    • Canada – 1,200,000
    • Argentina – 175,000
    • Brazil – 650,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – 1,810,000
    • Japan – 1,250,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 500,000
    • New Zealand – 75,000
  • Europe – 5,840,000
    • UK – 1,900,000
    • France – 715,000
    • Germany – 770,000
    • Italy – 575,000
    • Spain – 275,000
    • Sweden – 175,000
    • Netherland – 230,000
    • Switzerland – 105,000
    • Austria – 75,000
    • Finland – 36,000
  • World – 21,250,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

True Blue (1986)

  • America
    • US – 7,700,000
    • Canada – 1,650,000
    • Argentina – 290,000
    • Brazil – 900,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – 2,050,000
    • Japan – 1,050,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 340,000
    • New Zealand – 75,000
  • Europe – 8,360,000
    • UK – 2,300,000
    • France – 1,095,000
    • Germany – 1,250,000
    • Italy – 1,050,000
    • Spain – 400,000
    • Sweden – 125,000
    • Netherland – 280,000
    • Switzerland – 200,000
    • Austria – 115,000
    • Finland – 55,000
  • World – 22,550,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Who’s That Girl (1987)

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "madonna who's that girl"
  • America
    • US – 1,500,000
    • Canada – 175,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 100,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – 540,000
    • Japan – 200,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 35,000
    • New Zealand – 10,000
  • Europe – 2,830,000
    • UK – 425,000
    • France – 620,000
    • Germany – 450,000
    • Italy – 375,000
    • Spain – 125,000
    • Sweden – 70,000
    • Netherland – 80,000
    • Switzerland – 60,000
    • Austria – 30,000
    • Finland – 25,000
  • World – 5,400,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Like A Prayer (1989)

  • America
    • US – 4,500,000
    • Canada – 650,000
    • Argentina – 200,000
    • Brazil – 600,000
    • Mexico – 500,000
  • Asia – 1,290,000
    • Japan – 550,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 300,000
    • New Zealand – 60,000
  • Europe – 5,780,000
    • UK – 1,400,000
    • France – 640,000
    • Germany – 780,000
    • Italy – 725,000
    • Spain – 500,000
    • Sweden – 250,000
    • Netherland – 140,000
    • Switzerland – 140,000
    • Austria – 70,000
    • Finland – 71,000
  • World – 14,275,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

I’m Breathless (1990)

  • America
    • US – 2,500,000
    • Canada – 300,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 130,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – 1,090,000
    • Japan – 475,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 100,000
    • New Zealand – 25,000
  • Europe – 2,310,000
    • UK – 460,000
    • France – 290,000
    • Germany – 350,000
    • Italy – 325,000
    • Spain – 225,000
    • Sweden – 70,000
    • Netherland – 50,000
    • Switzerland – 30,000
    • Austria – 25,000
    • Finland – 38,000
  • World – 6,700,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Erotica (1992)

  • America
    • US – 2,300,000
    • Canada – 250,000
    • Argentina – 120,000
    • Brazil – 150,000
    • Mexico – 250,000
  • Asia – 960,000
    • Japan – 500,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 220,000
    • New Zealand – 15,000
  • Europe – 2,380,000
    • UK – 700,000
    • France – 375,000
    • Germany – 300,000
    • Italy – 300,000
    • Spain – 125,000
    • Sweden – 45,000
    • Netherland – 45,000
    • Switzerland – 30,000
    • Austria – 30,000
    • Finland – 15,000
  • World – 6,825,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Bedtime Stories (1994)

  • America
    • US – 3,050,000
    • Canada – 300,000
    • Argentina – 60,000
    • Brazil – 275,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – 930,000
    • Japan – 425,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 150,000
    • New Zealand – 15,000
  • Europe – 2,370,000
    • UK – 600,000
    • France – 260,000
    • Germany – 510,000
    • Italy – 275,000
    • Spain – 125,000
    • Sweden – 35,000
    • Netherland – 40,000
    • Switzerland – 45,000
    • Austria – 30,000
    • Finland – 15,000
  • World – 7,500,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Evita (1996)

  • America
    • US – 2,600,000
    • Canada – 150,000
    • Argentina – 30,000
    • Brazil – 150,000
    • Mexico – 85,000
  • Asia – 590,000
    • Japan – 200,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 120,000
    • New Zealand – 15,000
  • Europe – 2,630,000
    • UK – 750,000
    • France – 235,000
    • Germany – 520,000
    • Italy – 325,000
    • Spain – 75,000
    • Sweden – 40,000
    • Netherland – 75,000
    • Switzerland – 10,000
    • Austria – 130,000
    • Finland – 10,000
  • World – 6,525,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Ray Of Light (1998)

  • America
    • US – 4,900,000
    • Canada – 775,000
    • Argentina – 100,000
    • Brazil – 260,000
    • Mexico – 300,000
  • Asia – 1,050,000
    • Japan – 450,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 260,000
    • New Zealand – 90,000
  • Europe – 7,930,000
    • UK – 1,980,000
    • France – 1,015,000
    • Germany – 1,600,000
    • Italy – 650,000
    • Spain – 350,000
    • Sweden – 250,000
    • Netherland – 310,000
    • Switzerland – 155,000
    • Austria – 120,000
    • Finland – 51,000
  • World – 16,000,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Music (2000)

  • America
    • US – 3,200,000
    • Canada – 350,000
    • Argentina – 65,000
    • Brazil – 160,000
    • Mexico – 150,000
  • Asia – 730,000
    • Japan – 325,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 260,000
    • New Zealand – 35,000
  • Europe – 5,510,000
    • UK – 1,750,000
    • France – 730,000
    • Germany – 800,000
    • Italy – 550,000
    • Spain – 230,000
    • Sweden – 100,000
    • Netherland – 180,000
    • Switzerland – 120,000
    • Austria – 80,000
    • Finland – 33,000
  • World – 10,700,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

American Life (2003)

  • America
    • US – 800,000
    • Canada – 100,000
    • Argentina – 25,000
    • Brazil – 60,000
    • Mexico – 60,000
  • Asia – 340,000
    • Japan – 200,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 35,000
    • New Zealand – 5,000
  • Europe – 1,890,000
    • UK – 360,000
    • France – 505,000
    • Germany – 250,000
    • Italy – 150,000
    • Spain – 80,000
    • Sweden – 45,000
    • Netherland – 60,000
    • Switzerland – 50,000
    • Austria – 20,000
    • Finland – 5,000
  • World – 3,375,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Confessions On A Dancefloor (2005)

  • America
    • US – 1,850,000
    • Canada – 525,000
    • Argentina – 110,000
    • Brazil – 140,000
    • Mexico – 150,000
  • Asia – 940,000
    • Japan – 600,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 200,000
    • New Zealand – 25,000
  • Europe – 5,190,000
    • UK – 1,400,000
    • France – 950,000
    • Germany – 625,000
    • Italy – 475,000
    • Spain – 230,000
    • Sweden – 150,000
    • Netherland – 175,000
    • Switzerland – 140,000
    • Austria – 60,000
    • Finland – 55,000
  • World – 9,325,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Hard Candy (2008)

  • America
    • US – 825,000
    • Canada – 190,000
    • Argentina – 75,000
    • Brazil – 120,000
    • Mexico – 120,000
  • Asia – 455,000
    • Japan – 300,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 75,000
    • New Zealand – 5,000
  • Europe – 1,680,000
    • UK – 360,000
    • France – 235,000
    • Germany – 280,000
    • Italy – 200,000
    • Spain – 55,000
    • Sweden – 30,000
    • Netherland – 100,000
    • Switzerland -55,000
    • Austria – 20,000
    • Finland – 25,000
  • World – 3,650,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

MDNA (2012)

  • America
    • US – 580,000
    • Canada – 80,000
    • Argentina – 30,000
    • Brazil – 125,000
    • Mexico – 55,000
  • Asia – 175,000
    • Japan – 110,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 25,000
    • New Zealand – N/A
  • Europe – 710,000
    • UK – 150,000
    • France – 105,000
    • Germany – 95,000
    • Italy – 80,000
    • Spain – 25,000
    • Sweden – 20,000
    • Netherland – 25,000
    • Switzerland – 15,000
    • Austria – 10,000
    • Finland – 20,000
  • World – 1,850,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Rebel Heart (2015)

  • America
    • US – 250,000
    • Canada – 40,000
    • Argentina – N/A
    • Brazil – 60,000
    • Mexico – 30,000
  • Asia – 65,000
    • Japan – 45,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 20,000
    • New Zealand – N/A
  • Europe – 380,000
    • UK – 85,000
    • France – 55,000
    • Germany – 70,000
    • Italy – 65,000
    • Spain – 30,000
    • Sweden – 5,000
    • Netherland – 10,000
    • Switzerland – 10,000
    • Austria – 8,000
    • Finland – 8,000
  • World – 900,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Original Album Sales – Comments

1983 Madonna – 9,625,000
1984 Like A Virgin – 21,250,000
1986 True Blue – 22,550,000
1987 Who’s That Girl – 5,400,000
1989 Like A Prayer – 14,275,000
1990 I’m Breathless – 6,700,000
1992 Erotica – 6,825,000
1994 Bedtime Stories – 7,500,000
1996 Evita – 6,525,000
1998 Ray Of Light – 16,000,000
2000 Music – 10,700,000
2003 American Life – 3,375,000
2005 Confessions On  A Dance Floor – 9,325,000
2008 Hard Candy – 3,650,000
2012 MDNA – 1,850,000
2015 Rebel Heart – 900,000

A grand total of 16 albums including three soundtracks, adding for nearly 146,45 million units sold. Ignoring the last couple of albums, the most impressive fact on those figures is the consistency Madonna managed over the curse of 14 albums / 25 years, securing an average of more than 10 million sales per album in spite of the very best seller being at 22 million, barely twice the average. No other diva has such a low top seller / average seller ratio, proving the ability of the American superstar to remain relevant.

While this career total of 146,45 million is already enormous, it is only a part of the overall picture, especially with Madonna. In fact, she has been a huge physical singles seller, a huge music videos seller and a huge compilations seller as well. Her not-so-good streaming results still add additional earnings and sales to the artist, just like the few live albums that came out during the last ten years.

Physical Singles Sales

[106/365] Totally 80s

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

1983-86

From 1983 to 1986, Madonna‘s popularity increased every month. Singles sales of the likes Holiday or Borderline, over 3 million combined, make it look like the 1983 era was already big. The diva rise to fame was much more linear though. Those songs peaked at #6 and #54 during the year 1984 in the UK, it is after the Like A Virgin fever that their reissues shot to #2 in August 1985 and January 1986 respectively.

That fever was powered by the 4 million selling title track, a song that led the US Hot 100 for 6 weeks, but also by Into The Groove, an incredible smash in Europe. This song went on to sell 3 million copies despite a limited release as it never came out in the US, Canada or Australia. That 1984 era had 3 more million sellers in Material Girl, Angel and Dress You Up to combine for a grand total of 11 million physical singles sold.

A near-impossible tally to beat, it was topped by its direct follow up as hits from True Blue moved 12 million copies. Papa Don’t Preach and La Isla Bonita broke 3 million a piece, Live To Tell and True Blue 2 million while Open Your Heart almost seems to be weak although it sold a strong 1,3 million.

As for sales figures, a clarification is needed. From late 70s to early 90s, two formats were strong, 7″ and 12″. This latter format was double certified by the RIAA, the US organization in charge of providing Gold and Platinum awards. Artists of dancing music were selling a large amount of 12″ singles as they included mixes of those hot tunes.

Madonna was one of them. A song like Angel went Gold for 1 million units in 1985 while peaking only at #9 in the Sales chart, it was due to the single being a 12″ exclusive, meaning it sold 500,000 units rather than 1 million. Most other singles sold well in both formats, which inflates their RIAA tallies by 20-30%.

Madonna (1983) – 1,191,000 equivalent albums

Everybody – 170,000
Burning Up – 60,000
Holiday – 1,850,000
Lucky Star – 650,000
Borderline – 1,240,000

Like A Virgin (1984) – 3,375,000 equivalent albums

Like A Virgin – 4,360,000
Material Girl – 1,560,000
Angel – 1,160,000
Into The Groove – 3,010,000
Dress You Up – 1,070,000
Love Don’t Live Here Anymore – 90,000

True Blue (1986) – 3,651,000 equivalent albums

Live To Tell – 2,020,000
Papa Don’t Preach – 3,280,000
True Blue – 2,380,000
Open Your Heart – 1,300,000
La Isla Bonita – 3,190,000

1987-90

The era of Who’s That Girl was naturally short since it was a Soundtrack. It hasn’t prevented the title track to be a huge hit and Causing A Commotion to sell over a million.

From March 1984 to September 1987, Madonna registered 14 consecutive US Top 10 hits, the last 13 of which Top 5, within’ 42 months, one every quarter. The 18 months break took from September 1987 to March 1989 could have cause a real slowdown in fame for her. It did happen afterwards when Oh Father broke the string of hits by peaking at #20 later in 1989, but not instantly as Like A Prayer was a massive #1 songs and both follow ups went to #2.

Vogue is widely said to be a 6 million seller Worldwide, facts put it under 3 million though. It is one more case of single sold mostly as a 12″, with US sales estimated at just under 1,5 million in spite of being certified at 2 million units due to the aforementioned duplication rule for 12″ format.

Who’s That Girl (1987) – 1,182,000 equivalent albums

Who’s That Girl – 2,540,000
Causing A Commotion – 1,120,000
The Look Of Love – 280,000

Like A Prayer (1989) – 1,941,000 equivalent albums

Like A Prayer – 2,990,000
Express Yourself – 1,330,000
Cherish – 950,000
Oh Father – 390,000
Dear Jessie – 360,000
Keep It Together – 450,000

I’m Breathless (1990) – 1,050,000 equivalent albums

Vogue – 2,840,000
Hanky Panty – 660,000

1992-96

By the 90s, Madonna wasn’t able anymore to score Top 5 hits with every single she dropped. She was regularly getting sizable hits still even if they were often different songs in distinct countries – from those albums the top selling single in the US is Take A Bow, in the UK it’s You Will See, in continental Europe it’s Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, in Japan Human Nature while in Australia it’s Erotica. Also, her global impact helped greatly less popular songs to sell decent numbers.

Those reasons gave her routinely 2,5 million singles sales from each era. Don’t Cry For Me Argentina is the biggest seller of that period with over 1,5 million sales, mostly thanks to Germany and France which provided it more than half of its total sales.

Erotica (1992) – 801,000 equivalent albums
ARGENTINA-US-MADONNA-FANS

Erotica – 940,000
Deeper And Deeper – 540,000
Bad Girl – 420,000
Fever – 120,000
Rain – 620,000
Bye Bye Baby – 30,000

Bedtime Stories (1994) – 804,000 equivalent albums

Secret – 970,000
Take A Bow – 1,020,000
Bedtime Story – 260,000
Human Nature – 430,000

Evita (1996) – 717,000 equivalent albums

You Must Love Me – 770,000
Don’t Cry For Me Argentina – 1,540,000
Another Suitcase In Another Hall – 80,000

1998-2003

Frozen put Madonna back on track as a A-League hit maker. Her top seller from 1992-1998 years in every continent, it sold 2,34 million units. More, it opened the door for its follow ups too. The Ray Of Light era concluded on an impressive 5,1 million singles sold, her biggest since Like A Prayer in that format.

Music was the perfect continuation with the lead single breaking 2 million sales too. It remains to this day her last million selling physical single in the US and was also the second best seller of the year there behind Santana‘s Maria Maria. Don’t Tell Me was a solid hit too although the start of the physical singles market made it more difficult to reach a million sales.

The era of American Life was way less successful. Up to that point Erotica was the only album that saw none of its singles hit the million mark. No song from American Life reached even half a million units sold. They still reached decent peaks, especially in Europe, but they had no consistency.

Ray Of Light (1998) – 1,530,000 equivalent albums
Madonna - Frozen

Frozen – 2,340,000
Ray Of Light – 1,150,000
Drowned World (Substitute for Love) – 210,000
The Power Of Good-Bye – 1,000,000
Nothing Really Matters – 400,000

Music (2000) – 1,122,000 equivalent albums

Music – 2,410,000
Don’t Tell Me – 920,000
What It Feels Like For A Girl – 410,000

American Life (2003) – 306,000 equivalent albums

American Life – 470,000
Hollywood – 260,000
Nothing Fails – 120,000
Love Profusion – 170,000

2005-15

The norm by 2005 was that physical singles weren’t selling anymore except in a few European countries plus Australia. They were doing so at a lower rate than a few years earlier even on those countries. Hung Up challenged those norms, destroying charts and sales figures. Its total of 1,72 million is one of the highest since its release to date, all acts considered.

Both Sorry and later 4 Minutes were successful too. The market was becoming truly irrelevant, but Madonna has the advantage of a solid base of fans who purchases her collectors. Thanks to them, she keeps selling physical singles even by now.

Confessions On A Dance Floor (2005) – 705,000 equivalent albums
Madonna - HUng up vinyl

Hung Up – 1,720,000
Sorry – 390,000
Get Together – 130,000
Jump – 110,000

Hard Candy (2008) – 156,000 equivalent albums

4 Minutes – 330,000
Give It 2 Me– 120,000
Miles Away – 70,000

MDNA (2012) – 15,000 equivalent albums

All Singles – 50,000

Rebel Heart (2015) – 15,000 equivalent albums

All Singles – 50,000

Orphans

Last but not least, here comes the Orphan category. It encapsulates together all songs that came out outside the listed studio albums, most of them promoting soundtracks or compilations. Consequently, those songs face less competition from parent albums, they are often lead singles of eras too.

This creates a very favorable context to reach high sales over the single format. It resulted into various smash hits including Crazy For You, Justify My Love, This Used To Be My Playground, You’ll See, Beautiful Stranger, American Pie and Die Another Day.

Together, those songs sold more than 13 million units. This pushes the comprehensive tally of Madonna‘s physical singles to 75,2 million sales, far and away the highest total among all artists that emerged in 1980 or later.

Orphan Album – 4,002,000 equivalent albums
Wanting, needing, waiting.

Crazy For You – 2,700,000
Gambler – 710,000
Spotlight – 30,000
Justify My Love – 2,030,000
Rescue Me – 640,000
This Used To Be My Playground – 1,700,000
I’ll Remember – 780,000
You’ll See – 1,150,000
One More Chance – 60,000
Beautiful Stranger – 930,000
American Pie – 1,100,000
Die Another Day – 810,000
Me Against The Music – 500,000
Celebration – 130,000
Revolver – 20,000
Remaining Singles – 50,000

Digital Singles Sales

As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 1,5 ratio between albums and digital singles.

iTunes Madonna

1983-86

Nearly all songs from those 3 albums were hit singles back in the day. A few of them faced the time better than the others. Holiday, Like A Virgin, Material Girl and La Isla Bonita are at roughly 1 million downloads and ringtones each. While good, these figures are nowhere near the big hits from Michael Jackson, Guns N’ Roses or Queen from the same era.

Some songs are more disappointing. Into The Groove and Papa Don’t Preach, two of the very biggest hits from 1985/1986 Worldwide, lost a lot of momentum since.

Madonna (1983) – 364,000 equivalent albums

Everybody – 180,000
Burning Up – 230,000
Holiday – 925,000
Lucky Star – 470,000
Borderline – 520,000
Remaining tracks – 100,000

Like A Virgin (1984) – 523,000 equivalent albums

Like A Virgin – 1,050,000
Material Girl – 1,050,000
Angel – 100,000
Into The Groove – 725,000
Dress You Up – 310,000
Love Don’t Live Here Anymore – 100,000
Remaining tracks – 150,000

True Blue (1986) – 421,000 equivalent albums

Live To Tell – 420,000
Papa Don’t Preach – 625,000
True Blue – 310,000
Open Your Heart – 360,000
La Isla Bonita – 940,000
Remaining tracks – 150,000

1987-90

Ironically, while mid-80s are truly regarded as the peak of Madonna‘s hype, Vogue and Like A Prayer, especially the latest, stand as her signature songs. At more than 2 million digital sales, Like A Prayer is the flagship of her catalog. It is always the first track to reenter charts all around the World as soon as the news around the diva are hot, like when she performed on the Superbowl in 2012.

Who’s That Girl (1987) – 77,000 equivalent albums
#wasplayingwhileout #expressyourself #madonna #itunes #whitagram ❤❤❤❤

Who’s That Girl – 310,000
Causing A Commotion – 155,000
The Look Of Love – 50,000

Like A Prayer (1989) – 509,000 equivalent albums

Like A Prayer – 2,100,000
Express Yourself – 525,000
Cherish – 315,000
Oh Father – 100,000
Dear Jessie – 100,000
Keep It Together – 50,000
Remaining tracks – 200,000

I’m Breathless (1990) – 203,000 equivalent albums

Vogue – 1,150,000
Hanky Panty – 50,000
Remaining tracks – 150,000

1992-96

Not much remains from this period. Even Take A Bow is a relatively low digital seller, just like Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.

Erotica (1992) – 114,000 equivalent albums
#wasplayingwhileout #takeabow #madonna #itunes ❤❤❤❤

Erotica – 205,000
Deeper And Deeper – 100,000
Bad Girl – 50,000
Fever – 50,000
Rain – 155,000
Bye Bye Baby – 50,000
Remaining tracks – 150,000

Bedtime Stories (1994) – 146,000 equivalent albums

Secret – 205,000
Take A Bow – 415,000
Bedtime Story – 50,000
Human Nature – 155,000
Remaining tracks – 150,000

Evita (1996) – 65,000 equivalent albums

You Must Love Me – 50,000
Don’t Cry For Me Argentina – 155,000
Another Suitcase In Another Hall– 30,000
Remaining tracks – 200,000

1998-2003

Considering how successful Ray Of Light and Music albums were, plus way more modern than Madonna‘s 80s albums, one may expect their leading hits to be strong digital sellers. They aren’t. Frozen is disappointing, so is Music song.

Ray Of Light too. It is not uncommon at all to see past classics well over 1 million downloads, but those songs are well under that mark. Since this format is now disappearing, they will likely never make it.

Ray Of Light (1998) – 298,000 equivalent albums
It finally picked this song!  #wasplayingontheboat #rayoflight #madonna #itunes #whitagram ❤❤❤❤

Frozen – 575,000
Ray Of Light – 775,000
Drowned World (Substitute for Love) – 50,000
The Power Of Good-Bye – 210,000
Nothing Really Matters – 75,000
Remaining tracks – 300,000

Music (2000) – 186,000 equivalent albums

Music – 625,000
Don’t Tell Me – 310,000
What It Feels Like For A Girl – 105,000
Remaining tracks – 200,000

American Life (2003) – 73,000 equivalent albums

American Life – 75,000
Hollywood – 155,000
Nothing Fails – 30,000
Love Profusion – 75,000
Remaining tracks – 150,000

2005-15

Those 5 eras happened during the digital age. Downloads were still low by 2005 and were already going strongly down by 2015 though. That’s why Hung Up sold a surprisingly low 3,2 million units – it would have likely sold about 3 times more on that format if released 5 years later.

Hard Candy ends up being the only era that enjoyed a great digital market while Madonna was still a A-League artist. Consequently, it is logically the highest selling era on that format with nearly 8 million sales.

Confessions On A Dance Floor (2005) – 787,000 equivalent albums
#wasplayingontheboat #hungup #madonna #itunes ❤❤❤❤

Hung Up – 3,200,000
Sorry – 725,000
Get Together – 260,000
Jump – 260,000
Remaining tracks – 800,000

Hard Candy (2008) – 1,316,000 equivalent albums

4 Minutes – 5,050,000
Give It 2 Me– 1,000,000
Miles Away – 1,200,000
Remaining tracks – 1,525,000

MDNA (2012) – 394,000 equivalent albums

Give Me All Your Luvin’ – 1,525,000
Girl Gone Wild – 400,000
Turn Up The Radio – 100,000
Remaining tracks – 600,000

Rebel Heart (2015) – 158,000 equivalent albums

Living For Love – 250,000
Ghosttown – 250,000
Bitch I’m Madonna – 150,000
Remaining tracks – 400,000

Orphans

Crazy For You, Beautiful Stranger and Die Another Day are all in the same ballpark as remaining big catalog hits from Madonna. Others, most notably Justify My Love, Playground and American Pie, are completely forgotten.

Special note for Santa Baby. This Christmas song enjoys every month of December to add a few sales to its tally, ending ahead of various songs way more popular than it ever was.

Orphan – 681,000 equivalent albums
#wasplayingwhileout #thisusedtobemyplayground#madonna #itunes ❤❤❤❤

Crazy For You – 725,000
Gambler – 100,000
Santa Baby – 360,000
Spotlight – 50,000
Justify My Love – 210,000
Rescue Me – 50,000
This Used To Be My Playground – 155,000
I’ll Remember – 155,000
You’ll See – 100,000
One More Chance – 50,000
Beautiful Stranger – 415,000
American Pie – 100,000
Die Another Day – 525,000
Me Against The Music – 625,000
Celebration – 820,000
Revolver – 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

Thus… Equivalent Albums Sales = 212/132 * Spotify streams / 1500 + YouTube views / 11750

Streaming Part 1

Let’s be honest, those figures are not record breaking. Madonna‘s highest song in streaming Spotify figures from her first three albums is Material Girl which is under 50 million. The five singles extracted from True Blue add for 82 million – nothing to be ashamed of but also nowhere near the near 500 million combined of the main three tracks of its contemporary challenger Appetite For Destruction by the Guns N’ Roses. The story is the same on YouTube.

Still, the main strength of Madonna has never been one or two songs but an extensive catalog of hits instead. Thus, the over 300,000 equivalent albums sales generated by those songs’ streams, which are already quite decent, are only a first batch of streaming results out of eight.

Streaming Part 2

This second set of streaming results highlights the decreasing popularity of Madonna when entering into the 90s. The second point highlighted is the unquestionable status of catalog’s flagship song of Like A Prayer, which is past 70 million, a 40% lead over all of her deep catalog hits. In terms of YouTube views, it is second to Vogue among pre-2005 tunes.

Like A Prayer, the song, is responsible for 75% of its album equivalent album sales from streams which stand at 114,000 units. On its side, Vogue is worth nearly 95% of I’m Breathless total. Those percentages show the end of the unstoppable hit machine Madonna was during the 80s as one song only has an overwhelming dominance over a complete era.

Streaming Part 3

Download sales of catalog songs of Madonna are not that good, but at least they benefited from positive years for her from 2005 to 2008 plus boosts like the Superbowl. Since streaming exploded, she has not been getting hits anymore, so her old records had no boost of this kind.

As a result, less successful albums like Erotica and Bedtime Stories register no song with 10 million Spotify streams nor 20 million Youtube views. This absence of notable songs impacts strongly the equivalent album sales from streams of those albums, under 30,000 units each.

Streaming Part 4

Evita continues the string of unnoticeable albums with 22,000 equivalent album sales.

Ray Of Light represents a good improvement, although just like with the downloads format it falls short of albums like Like A Virgin and True Blue. Interestingly, we see that almost the entire album is over 1 million Spotify streams. Her 80s records had bigger hits but were less regular. This confirms the status of Ray Of Light as the best rated album of her career.

Streaming Part 5

A few years ago it would have been hard to predict that Music and American Life were going to perform similarly. It is due as much to the lack of traction got by the songs of Music as the not-so-bad results of American Life.

The song Music is the most striking example of the relative poor performances of its album. It falls under 20 million plays on both Spotify and YouTube. That’s more than 10 times lower than songs like Coldplay‘s Yellow or Linkin Park‘s In the End. One of the very biggest hits of the year upon release, Music barely holds into the Top 100 most streamed songs of 2000.

Streaming Part 6

With this fifth section of streaming results, we get into the digital era albums. Spotify was still not created when Confessions On A Dance Floor came out but it’s songs were still not too old by then, with Hung Up getting over 57 million plays. It continues riding very high among Madonna‘s catalog. The same phenomenon happened with 4 Minutes which is close at 53 million. This latter song is losing ground as it was nearly 30% ahead of Hung Up one year ago.

Confessions On A Dance Floor joins Ray Of Light by putting all its songs over 1 million Spotify streams. It also enjoyed YouTube explosion a lot as Hung Up alone has 163 million views. Consequently, both albums COADF and Hard Candy outperform their predecessors on streams with respectively 131,000 and 111,000 equivalent album sales.

Streaming Part 7

One the first version of this article was posted slightly more than one year ago, Hung Up had 25,1 million streams on Spotify while Girl Gone Wide had 25,6 million and Give Me All Your Luvin’ was up to 24,1 million. It means that while the former amassed 32,5 million new streams, those last two songs added a dreadful 4,4 million and 3,5 million streams respectively.

MDNA has a total of 110,000 equivalent album sales from streams, almost as much as its two predecessors. The reason is obviously completely different though as it mostly benefited from a booming streaming market. By now, the album already lost all its strength.

Rebel Heart album bombed, so did its singles. Despite being issued in 2015 with streaming numbers being massive, its three main tracks add for only 85 million, about a tenth of 2015 biggest hits did as stand-alone songs. Their current rate is also truly bad as Living For Love for example added a mere 3,6 million plays.

Bitch I’m Madonna used to death the presence of Nicki Minaj to amass strong YouTube views as they stand at 258 million. Still, even if during the streaming world those results are not good, they represent the equivalent of 195,000 units, a sizable addition to an album that sold only 900,000 units by itself.

Streaming Part 8

The Orphan Album is this folder that encapsulate all songs from external records by other artists or from the artist own compilations but not from his studio sets. The two main items on Spotify among such releases are both new songs featured on 2009 Celebration compilation, the title track and Revolver. They also lead YouTube views along with Me Against The Music.

As a general note, that section is much weaker over streaming services as it was during the days of physical singles. In fact, audio and video streams of all those combined add for only 126,000 equivalent album sales.

Full Length related record Sales

Britain Madonna Exhibition

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.

Remaining Long Format – Part 1 – Compilations

How to understand this table? If you check for example the The Immaculate Collection compilation line, those figures mean it sold 28,100,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 470,000 equivalent album sales from streams of all types.

The second part on the right of the table shows how many equivalent streams are coming from each original album, plus the share it represents on the overall package. Thus, streaming figures tell us songs from Like A Virgin are responsible for 29% of the The Immaculate Collection track list attractiveness. This means it generated 8,124,000 of its 28,100,000 album sales and so forth for the other records.

As it remains Madonna‘s greatest selling record, The Immaculate Collection represents a tremendous addition to her 80s studio albums. Since 1990, it cannibalized their catalog sales. Thanks to the CSPC approach, everything is assigned back to the original creators of that best of value.

It is key to notice that Like A Virgin is a larger contributor to the success of the compilation than True Blue. That later album sold more during its promotional campaign as the market was going up, so was the diva fan base, plus it got a huge tour supporting it. In the long run though, hits of Like A Virgin kept a bit more relevance, which is shown by this table. Indeed, it isn’t only the main provider of attractiveness of The Immaculate Collection, it is also the strongest component of Celebration.

In the same way, Like A Prayer appears to be a strong strength for the catalog of the icon in spite of being nowhere near as big as a seller as True Blue. A question starts to emerge: True Blue is her best selling studio album in original album sales, but which album is really the most successful record of Madonna?

Remaining Long Format – Part 2 – Remixes

Flagged as the best selling remix album ever until Michael Jackson‘s Blood On The Dancefloor challenged it in 1997, You Can Dance is one more evidence of the all-around power of Madonna. It came early into her career, with hit songs coming exclusively Madonna and Like A Virgin albums. They are both responsible for more than 2,5 million of its sales.

Remixed & Revisited is nowhere near as strong, but since it includes almost only songs from American Life, it gives that album a good push to make it look better in comparison to Madonna’s 80s and 90s LPs.

Remaining Long Format – Part 3 – Live Albums

The status of Madonna evolved from contemporary hit maker to old fashioned icon. The way to exploit this kind of artists is completely different.

With hit makers, the target is to drop as many new material as possible, as it happens with Justin Bieber currently who seem to be releasing new songs every month. Older acts who still enjoy a dedicated fan base are instead exploited by dropping as many new formats as possible of their classic material. Remixes, lives, DVDs, anniversary reissues, every new package is good in order to convince the fan to buy one more item although he already owns the music in various supports.

This is why the number of live albums released has been accelerating in the last part of Madonna‘s career. This is even more true when we consider that markets very keen of live sets like Brazil or France are strong places for the singer.

Like A Prayer is her signature song, for that same reason it is the one which is part of all shows of Madonna. It is visible inside the distribution of sales of all those packages. In recent years, Hung Up has been a real attraction too.

Remaining Long Format – Part 4 – Early Music Videos

Just like live albums, VHS / DVDs depend on which song is sung during each tour. Some videos are also themed around a compilation like The Immaculate Collection, which happens to be her greatest seller up to an impressive 1,6 million.

Each of the five VHS issued from 1984 to 1990 is led by songs from Like A Virgin, confirming its status as the main force of Madonna‘s catalog, ahead of True Blue. On its side, Ray Of Light is the easy leader of the 93:99 period.

We still need to add all figures together to understand how big it really is, but as you can guess, the overall number of equivalent album sales generated by Like A Virgin is mind-blowing.

Remaining Long Format – Part 5 – Later Music Videos

We continue with one more bunch of successful music videos, a format rarely discussed but on which Madonna did wonders all over her illustrious résumé. Those more recent releases involve songs from more varied eras even if the usual suspects continue to do well.

Remaining Long Format – Part 6 – Boxes

As someone who already sold an immense number of compilations, Madonna isn’t an artist that will sell large amounts of boxes made of original studio albums. Those packages have been quite hyped lately though and even her enjoyed it thanks to The Complete Studio Albums package released along with MDNA.

The CSPC guidelines tell that when several albums are barely packaged together, they all get rewarded the sales of the box since it cannibalized them all. Consequently, all albums – minus soundtracks – from Madonna to Hard Candy are assigned with an additional 70,000 units.

Full Length related records Sales – Summary

Here is the most underestimated indicator of an album’s success – the amount of compilation sales of all kinds it generated. Due to the dependency of sales of the original studio albums on these releases, they are a key piece of the jigsaw.

We guessed it while listing the distributed sales of each compilation, Like A Virgin is on top. It is responsible for a huge 14,4 million sales, more than 4,4 million ahead of True Bue. Like A Prayer is a strong third while Madonna provided assistance for sales of 7,3 million compilation packages. Those albums contributed in selling so many compilations that it is quite natural that their catalog sales in original form have been rather modest.

Her string of 80s albums really shines over the rest of her discography. Does it make sense? Yes, absolutely. With the release of Celebration in 2009, we noticed that the general public continued to prefer The Immaculate Collection instead. Madonna may have record various smash hits since 1991, the one people love the most is definitely the original superstar from her 20s.

BONUS: Compilation Albums Sales

You Can Dance (1987)

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "madonna you can dance"
  • America
    • US – 1,800,000
    • Canada – 200,000
    • Argentina – 40,000
    • Brazil – 125,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – 830,000
    • Japan – 375,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 100,000
    • New Zealand – 20,000
  • Europe – 2,470,000
    • UK – 500,000
    • France – 450,000
    • Germany – 375,000
    • Italy – 350,000
    • Spain – 100,000
    • Sweden – 75,000
    • Netherlands – 75,000
    • Switzerland – 30,000
    • Austria – 20,000
    • Finland – 20,000
  • World – 5,800,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

The Immaculate Collection (1990)

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "madonna the immaculate collection"
  • America
    • US – 11,925,000
    • Canada – 900,000
    • Argentina – 200,000
    • Brazil – 750,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – 2,810,000
    • Japan – 1,135,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 930,000
    • New Zealand – 120,000
  • Europe – 9,160,000
    • UK – 4,225,000
    • France – 1,090,000
    • Germany – 855,000
    • Italy – 625,000
    • Spain – 350,000
    • Sweden – 150,000
    • Netherlands – 275,000
    • Switzerland – 125,000
    • Austria – 65,000
    • Finland – 95,000
  • World – 28,100,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Something to Remember (1995)

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "madonna something to remember"
  • America
    • US – 3,100,000
    • Canada – 325,000
    • Argentina – 60,000
    • Brazil – 350,000
    • Mexico – N/A
  • Asia – 1,680,000
    • Japan – 600,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 300,000
    • New Zealand – 20,000
  • Europe – 3,860,000
    • UK – 1,200,000
    • France – 285,000
    • Germany – 600,000
    • Italy – 550,000
    • Spain – 95,000
    • Sweden – 125,000
    • Netherlands – 85,000
    • Switzerland – 90,000
    • Austria – 75,000
    • Finland – 95,000
  • World – 10,100,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

GHV2 (2001)

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "madonna ghv2"
  • America
    • US – 1,600,000
    • Canada – 175,000
    • Argentina – 25,000
    • Brazil – 140,000
    • Mexico – 120,000
  • Asia – 550,000
    • Japan – 250,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 70,000
    • New Zealand – 10,000
  • Europe – 2,780,000
    • UK – 875,000
    • France – 380,000
    • Germany – 380,000
    • Italy – 125,000
    • Spain – 215,000
    • Sweden – 80,000
    • Netherlands – 120,000
    • Switzerland – 50,000
    • Austria – 50,000
    • Finland – 35,000
  • World – 5,600,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

Celebration (2009)

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "madonna celebration"
  • America
    • US – 450,000
    • Canada – 110,000
    • Argentina – 25,000
    • Brazil – 90,000
    • Mexico – 100,000
  • Asia – 475,000
    • Japan – 300,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 70,000
    • New Zealand – 10,000
  • Europe – 1,660,000
    • UK – 600,000
    • France – 180,000
    • Germany – 225,000
    • Italy – 180,000
    • Spain – 50,000
    • Sweden – 50,000
    • Netherlands – 30,000
    • Switzerland – 30,000
    • Austria – 15,000
    • Finland – 30,000
  • World – 3,100,000

NB: N/A means no specific number is available. Sales from the country are still accounted for in the Worldwide estimate by using figure patterns of both the artist and the country market. Countries not displayed in this fixed panel are factored in also.

BONUS: Total Album (all types) Sales per Country

  • America
    • US – 71,260,000
    • Canada – 8,870,000
    • Argentina – 1,930,000
    • Brazil – 5,795,000
    • Mexico – 4,370,000
  • Asia – 20,215,000
    • Japan – 9,895,000
  • Oceania
    • Australia – 4,360,000
    • New Zealand – 673,000
  • Europe – 79,330,000
    • UK – 22,980,000
    • France – 10,805,000
    • Germany – 11,570,000
    • Italy – 8,385,000
    • Spain – 3,780,000
    • Sweden – 1,925,000
    • Netherlands – 2,570,000
    • Switzerland – 1,545,000
    • Austria – 1,080,000
    • Finland – 755,000
  • World – 201,900,000

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.

Madonna Career CSPC Results

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


This is it! We started this article mentioning Madonna has no album among the very best selling female studio albums of all-time, wondering how high would True Blue feature in terms of real popularity. In the end, the dark horse Like A Virgin appears to be the singer’s biggest album. Surprising? Well, not that much.

True Blue was clearly the fastest seller out of both, up to 15,5 million by the end of 1987 while Like A Virgin, with two more years of sales, was on 13 million by the same time. By mid-1988 though Like A Virgin was already the one selling the most and started to slowly catch album sales of True Blue. Considering The Immaculate Collection shot down catalog sales of those two albums soon after, Like A Virgin never completed its come back in terms of original album sales, but did generate more sales to all subsequent compilations and is still her most appealing record as shown by both catalog digital sales and streaming results.

Apart from the ranking, the volume of sales is very interesting. Like A Virgin is now close to 40 million equivalent album sales in total. This puts it ahead of many other female albums that sold more copies in original album format, including debuts of Britney SpearsNorah Jones and Tracy Chapman, Carole King‘s Tapestry, Whitney Houston‘s first two albums and Mariah Carey‘s Music Box / Daydream. This makes Like A Virgin the #6 most successful female album ever while True Blue scraps into the Top 10.

In the same way, Like A Prayer tops Ray Of Light album. Considering the 1,4 million lead of the latter record in original album format, this isn’t that surprising as without the cannibalization from The Immaculate Collection, the former would have filled this gap easily.

In the other end of the jigsaw, we can notice how little added value MDNA or Rebel Heart brought to the artist’s catalog. Albums like I’m Breathless and Bedtime Stories ain’t bad at all everything considered, while American Life still has a very long and difficult way to do before saving itself from the flop rating.

Everything considered, Madonna totals 241,1 million equivalent albums sales, more than Britney Spears, Adele and Rihanna combined. While the pop star is well known as the most successful female artist ever, this comparison is still worth it to best illustrate the magnitude of her success.

The following page lists her most successful songs.

Do not forget to check our amazing lists posted inside the CSPC: Data Collector which includes the full listing of all CSPC results compiled so far to better gauge her position in the history of the music industry.

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

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

BIGGEST TRACKS – Madonna

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.

.24th years of the best record ever made by @madonna, Like A Prayer, Amen!

1. 1989 – Like A Prayer [Like A Prayer] – 18,550,000
2. 1984 – Like A Virgin [Like A Virgin] – 15,210,000
3. 1986 – La Isla Bonita [True Blue] – 14,160,000
4. 1984 – Material Girl [Like A Virgin] – 12,550,000
5. 1990 – Vogue [I’m Breathless] – 11,790,000
6. 1983 – Holiday [Madonna] – 9,310,000
7. 1984 – Into The Groove [Like A Virgin] – 8,860,000
8. 1986 – Papa Don’t Preach [True Blue] – 8,460,000
9. 1998 – Frozen [Ray Of Light] – 8,340,000
10. 2005 – Hung Up [Confessions On A Dance Floor] – 7,470,000
11. 2000 – Music [Music] – 6,470,000
12. 1986 – Live To Tell [True Blue] – 6,440,000
13. 1998 – Ray Of Light [Ray Of Light] – 5,720,000
14. 1994 – Take A Bow [Bedtime Stories] – 5,420,000
15. 1985 – Crazy for You [Orphan] – 4,660,000
16. 1987 – Who’s That Girl [Who’s That Girl] – 4,620,000
17. 1986 – Open Your Heart [True Blue] – 4,440,000
18. 1983 – Borderline [Madonna] – 3,670,000
19. 2008 – 4 Minutes [Hard Candy] – 3,570,000
20. 1989 – Express Yourself [Like A Prayer] – 3,450,000
21. 1983 – Lucky Star [Madonna] – 3,010,000
22. 1992 – Erotica [Erotica] – 2,960,000
23. 2000 – Don’t Tell Me [Music] – 2,930,000
24. 1998 – The Power of Good-Bye [Ray Of Light] – 2,920,000
25. 1996 – Don’t Cry For Me Argentina [Evita] – 2,740,000
26. 1994 – Secret [Bedtime Stories] – 2,690,000
27. 1992 – Rain [Erotica] – 2,530,000
28. 1986 – True Blue [True Blue] – 2,400,000
29. 2000 – American Pie [Music] – 2,310,000
30. 2002 – Die Another Day [American Life] – 1,880,000
31. 1994 – Human Nature [Bedtime Stories] – 1,790,000
32. 1989 – Cherish [Like A Prayer] – 1,710,000
33. 2005 – Sorry [Confessions On A Dance Floor] – 1,610,000
34. 1984 – Dress You Up [Like A Virgin] – 1,380,000
35. 1987 – Causing A Commotion [Who’s That Girl] – 1,260,000
36. 1990 – Justify My Love [Orphan] – 1,240,000
37. 1992 – Deeper And Deeper [Erotica] – 1,230,000
38. 1982 – Everybody [Madonna] – 1,110,000
39. 1998 – Nothing Really Matters [Ray Of Light] – 1,060,000
40. 2000 – What It Feels Like For A Girl [Music] – 960,000

Records & Achievements

  • At 241,1 million equivalent album sales, Madonna is the most successful female artist of all-time, fourth overall.
  • With 201,9 million albums sold, Madonna is the highest selling female artist on this format of all-time, fifth overall.
  • With 75,2 million physical singles sold, Madonna is the highest selling female artist on this format of all-time, sixth overall.
  • With 7,8 million music videos sold, Madonna is the highest selling female artist on this format of all-time, top 10 overall.
  • At 28,1 million, The Immaculate Collection is the highest selling female compilation of all-time, seventh overall.
  • With 13, Madonna has more UK #1 hits than any other female artist, fifth overall.
  • With 63, Madonna has more UK Top 10 hits than any other female artist, third overall.
  • With 12, Madonna ranks third female, sixth overall among artists with most US #1 hits.
  • With 38, Madonna has more US Top 10 hits than any other artist independently of its kind.
  • With 12, Madonna has more UK #1 albums than any other female artist, third overall.

Please note that Madonna owns countless records and achievements. The most notable of them have been listed so far, feel free to add more details inside the comments section, all valid records will then be added to this page.

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


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