One Direction albums and songs sales
Michael Jackson, George Michael, Robbie Williams, Justin Timberlake… the tradition of a former young boy-band singer morphing into a massive pop star has a long history. Given their immense popularity during this decade, eyes are now focused on former One Direction members. Zayn (Malik) was the first to test the market with mixed fortunes. This week, Harry Styles is looking to sit atop the chart throne with his self titled debut album.
Can one of them really become a huge pop star ? After all, heavily hyped bands like the Backstreet Boys or the New Kids On The Block failed to produce strong solo singers. In all fairness, none of their members were as charismatic as several One Direction singers. Examples mentioned at the start of this article prove that the high popularity of a band can make it easier for their members to do well afterwards. How big have One Direction really been? How many album and singles have they sold?
As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to relevantly gauge their results. This concept will not only bring you sales information for all One Direction‘s albums, physical and download singles, as well as audio and video streaming, but 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. Let’s go!
The Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept (CSPC)
There are two ways to understand this revolutionary concept. The first is the Scribe video posted below. If you are unaware of the CSPC method, you will get the full idea within just a few 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
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 also factored in.
Up All Night (2011)
- US – 2,200,000
- Canada – 300,000
- Argentina – 120,000
- Brazil – 200,000
- Mexico – 260,000
- Asia – 545,000
- Japan – 305,000
- Australia – 360,000
- New Zealand – 55,000
- Europe – 1,930,000
- UK – 1,140,000
- France – 155,000
- Germany – 100,000
- Italy – 135,000
- Spain – 75,000
- Sweden – 25,000
- Netherlands – 35,000
- Switzerland – 15,000
- Austria – 10,000
- Finland – 11,000
- World – 6,250,000
Take Me Home (2012)
- US – 2,150,000
- Canada – 280,000
- Argentina – 125,000
- Brazil – 180,000
- Mexico – 260,000
- Asia – 700,000
- Japan – 420,000
- Australia – 260,000
- New Zealand – 35,000
- Europe – 2,030,000
- UK – 1,010,000
- France – 215,000
- Germany – 110,000
- Italy – 155,000
- Spain – 110,000
- Sweden – 35,000
- Netherlands – 70,000
- Switzerland – 20,000
- Austria – 12,000
- Finland – 20,000
- World – 6,300,000
Midnight Memories (2013)
- US – 1,625,000
- Canada – 190,000
- Argentina – 130,000
- Brazil – 190,000
- Mexico – 200,000
- Asia – 590,000
- Japan – 375,000
- Australia – 190,000
- New Zealand – 25,000
- Europe – 1,840,000
- UK – 910,000
- France – 180,000
- Germany – 95,000
- Italy – 155,000
- Spain – 100,000
- Sweden – 30,000
- Netherlands – 50,000
- Switzerland – 20,000
- Austria – 12,000
- Finland – 36,000
- World – 5,250,000
- US – 1,125,000
- Canada – 125,000
- Argentina – N/A
- Brazil – 135,000
- Mexico – 120,000
- Asia – 315,000
- Japan – 185,000
- Australia – 100,000
- New Zealand – 15,000
- Europe – 1,220,000
- UK – 605,000
- France – 105,000
- Germany – 80,000
- Italy – 125,000
- Spain – 60,000
- Sweden – 15,000
- Netherlands – 30,000
- Switzerland – 10,000
- Austria – 10,000
- Finland – 15,000
- World – 3,400,000
Made in the A.M. (2015)
- US – 925,000
- Canada – 120,000
- Argentina – N/A
- Brazil – 120,000
- Mexico – 140,000
- Asia – 220,000
- Japan – 130,000
- Australia – 120,000
- New Zealand – 15,000
- Europe – 820,000
- UK – 405,000
- France – 65,000
- Germany – 70,000
- Italy – 85,000
- Spain – 40,000
- Sweden – 7,000
- Netherlands – 20,000
- Switzerland – 7,000
- Austria – 8,000
- Finland – 5,000
- World – 2,700,000
Original Album Sales – Comments
Whatever we think about the boys, numbers don’t lie – selling almost 24 million studio albums with just five albums, starting in late 2011, is an extraordinary achievement in this day and age. To put things into perspective, Beyonce‘s album Lemonade topped the 2016 IFPI Top Selling Albums list with 2,5 million units shipped Worldwide. In other words, even their last album, Made in the A.M., which came after the deceleration of the 1D phenomenon, shipped nearly as much in 2015 alone with 2,4 million units.
With success ranging from good in Germanic countries, to mind blowing in Latin America, One Direction quickly broke the boundaries of their native UK. The hype slowed down a bit, but remained quite solid all throughout their career. It has yet to be seen if the lower sales from the last two albums are due to a real drop in popularity, or instead to a market translating into a new format.
Speaking of which, in a dying market like the album sales one, dedicated fans make a notable difference. Markets of download singles and streaming are built around way more consumers with figures for individual products climbing much higher. Can One Direction’s popularity hold well in an environment where the impact of a fan base is lost among the masses? We will be answering this question in the next categories related to singles sales.
2011 Up All Night – 6,250,000
2012 Take Me Home – 6,300,000
2013 Midnight Memories – 5,250,000
2014 Four – 3,400,000
2015 Made in the A.M. – 2,700,000
Physical Singles Sales
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 3 ratio between one album and one physical single.
In most CSPC articles, I tend to ignore physical singles sales for records issued in 2010 or later considering how weak the market is now. One Direction came out of X Factor though, a path which benefits sales of such products.
In fact, the physical CD version of What Makes You Beautiful sold nearly 6,000 copies in its debut week in the UK, a low figure in a $15 billion global industry, but a tremendous tally for a format representing a mere 1,1 million units sold in the UK for the entire 2011 calendar year.
Up All Night (2011) – 17,000 equivalent albums
What Makes You Beautiful – 30,000
Gotta Be You – 10,000
One Thing – 15,000
Take Me Home (2012) – 6,000 equivalent albums
Live While We’re Young – 20,000
Midnight Memories (2013) – 8,000 equivalent albums
Best Song Ever – 15,000
Story of My Life – 10,000
Four (2014) – 3,000 equivalent albums
Steal My Girl – 10,000
Orphan – 3,000 equivalent albums
One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks) – 10,000
Digital Singles Sales
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 1,5 ratio between albums and digital singles.
A modern day classic, What Makes You Beautiful doesn’t stop impressing. Way back in 2011, first week sales of the single, 154,000 units in the UK, were seen as somehow disappointing. This resulted in questioning of One Direction’s ability to face the test of time. Now though, this song has sold a stunning 8,7 million units across the World. Each of the following six global singles released, up to Story of My Life, sold over 2 million units with the aforementioned track standing at 5 million units sold.
Big hits, and solid singles, but also incredible album tracks. We already saw a similar case with Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. Acts targeting a teen audience sell immense numbers with their album tracks due to teens having no money to buy the album, instead cherry picking all tracks with their iTunes gift card received for Christmas or their birthday.
Songs from those three albums sold nearly 40 million units with a rare consistency, as tracks from each of them are responsible for more than 12 million sales.
Up All Night (2011) – 2,280,000 equivalent albums
What Makes You Beautiful – 8,700,000
Gotta Be You – 400,000
One Thing – 2,800,000
More Than This – 400,000
Up All Night – 400,000
Remaining tracks – 2,500,000
Take Me Home (2012) – 1,815,000 equivalent albums
Live While We’re Young – 3,400,000
Kiss You – 2,100,000
Little Things – 2,500,000
Remaining tracks – 4,100,000
Midnight Memories (2013) – 1,875,000 equivalent albums
Best Song Ever – 2,500,000
Story of My Life – 5,000,000
Midnight Memories – 800,000
You & I – 800,000
Remaining tracks – 3,400,000
2014 onwards and orphan songs
In recent years, the market of downloads has dropped a lot as a consequence of the emergence of streaming. Just like in pure album sales, it is difficult to know how much of the drop in results, from 12 to 7 million download singles per era, is due to market changes or down to a possible popularity drop.
Before getting an answer to this question we must highlight the overall total of 57 million download singles sales.
Four (2014) – 1,170,000 equivalent albums
Steal My Girl – 2,000,000
Night Changes – 1,700,000
Remaining tracks – 4,100,000
Made in the A.M. (2015) – 1,095,000 equivalent albums
Drag Me Down – 2,100,000
Perfect – 1,500,000
Infinity – 500,000
History – 700,000
Remaining tracks – 2,500,000
Orphan – 315,000 equivalent albums
One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks) – 1,900,000
Remaining tracks – 200,000
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 = 212/132 * Spotify streams / 1500 + YouTube views / 11750
What can I say? It is getting more and more frequent to see recent albums with all their tracks above 10 million streams on Spotify. This is because many users are consuming music exclusively via the streaming platform nowadays. This feat remains quite rare for 2011 albums though, with only streaming monsters such as Drake and Ed Sheeran achieving this. They aren’t alone, as every track from the original Up All Night album is over 14 million. Years after their breakthrough, and also years after their peak, their catalog is still buoyant. What Makes You Beautiful impresses again with 139 million streams on Spotify plus over 1 billion views on YouTube. Such all-around top performing songs bring the LP an impressive 774,000 equivalent album sales.
Songs from Take Me Home do not only replicate the feat of Up All Night, but really outdo it with all 17 of them being past 20 million streams. Little Things leads the pack with 121 million streams on Spotify, although YouTube views are bigger for Live While We’re Young at 554 million. In total, those results are worth 956,000 equivalent album sales.
Midnight Memories has three songs which have yet to reach 20 million, and also most of its track list with no truly relevant YouTube video. This doesn’t make it a weaker streaming album since 3 singles, Story of My Life, Best Song Ever and You & I, all break 100 million Spotify plays with ease. With Story Of My Life approaching 216 million streams. These big hits enable Midnight Memories to register over 1,1 million equivalent album sales from streams.
Four isn’t that far behind at 1,05 million. Released in a growing audio streaming market, the album sees all its songs at 22 million or more at Spotify with 10 of them passing 30 million. Steal My Girl equals the previous album’s lead single with 216 million streams on the Swedish platform.
Streaming results of Made in the A.M. is one of the reasons explaining why we shouldn’t jump to conclusions too fast. The album is the lowest seller in pure album sales, as well as the weakest in download singles. It is a true streaming monster though, with its worst song on its way to breaking 30 million plays at Spotify. Drag Me Down has a big 347 million plays while Perfect is on 269 million. Both tracks total 1 billion YouTube views also. All in all, the album is up to 1,6 million equivalent album sales from this format.
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 for example the This Is Us music video line, those figures mean it sold 3,100,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 1,394,000 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 Take Me Home are responsible for 53% of the This Is Us tracklist attractiveness, which means it generated 1,630,000 of its 3,100,000 album sales and so on for the other records.
In spite of never releasing a proper compilation or live album, several music videos by One Direction have been released. Three are official releases, Up All Night and Where We Are being tour videos, both massive sellers at 1,6 million and 700,000 units respectively, and then the This Is Us concert movie release. This package sold a tremendous 3,1 million units on the back of songs from their first three albums.
The remaining documentary videos line includes the likes of Only Way Is Up, Reaching For The Stars, All For One and Going Our Way. As they are documentaries, rather than live videos, their sales have been assigned into the Orphan album category.
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.
The gigantic 6 million plus music videos sold by the band mostly increase their first two albums total, which have been heavily covered in this media.
BONUS: Total Album (all types) Sales per Country
- US – 8,045,000
- Canada – 1,015,000
- Argentina – 555,000
- Brazil – 825,000
- Mexico – 980,000
- Asia – 2,440,000
- Japan – 1,475,000
- Australia – 1,030,000
- New Zealand – 145,000
- Europe – 7,840,000
- UK – 4,070,000
- France – 720,000
- Germany – 455,000
- Italy – 655,000
- Spain – 385,000
- Sweden – 115,000
- Netherlands – 205,000
- Switzerland – 75,000
- Austria – 55,000
- Finland – 85,000
- World – 24,050,000
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.
One Direction Career CSPC Results
So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each One Direction 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.
|artist_spotify_id||#||Cover||Album||Studio albums (EAS)||sales_update_date||Other LPs (EAS)||Physical singles (units sold)||Digital singles (units sold)||Streams||Streams increase||Total EAS||valid_as_of||streams_updated_value||album_id|
|4AK6F7OLvEQ5QYCBNiQWHq||1||Up All Night||6,250,000||14.05.17||2,745,000||17,000(55,000)||2,280,000(15,200,000)||3,759,000 (12/02/23)||Av.: 1,250LD: 1,630||15,051,000||20,231,202||3,759,000||1,259|
|4AK6F7OLvEQ5QYCBNiQWHq||2||Take Me Home||6,300,000||14.05.17||1,915,000||6,000(20,000)||1,815,000(12,100,000)||4,176,000 (12/02/23)||Av.: 1,350LD: 1,320||14,212,000||20,231,202||4,176,000||1,260|
|4AK6F7OLvEQ5QYCBNiQWHq||3||Midnight Memories||5,250,000||14.05.17||604,000||8,000(25,000)||1,875,000(12,500,000)||5,382,000 (12/02/23)||Av.: 1,790LD: 2,720||13,119,000||20,231,202||5,382,000||1,261|
|4AK6F7OLvEQ5QYCBNiQWHq||4||Four||3,400,000||14.05.17||0||3,000(10,000)||1,170,000(7,800,000)||5,298,000 (12/02/23)||Av.: 1,780LD: 3,010||9,871,000||20,231,202||5,298,000||1,262|
|4AK6F7OLvEQ5QYCBNiQWHq||5||Made in the A.M.||2,700,000||14.05.17||0||0(0)||1,095,000(7,300,000)||5,441,000 (12/02/23)||Av.: 1,590LD: 1,700||9,236,000||20,231,202||5,441,000||1,263|
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
|All-Time Rank||Studio albums (EAS)||Other LPs (EAS)||Physical singles (units sold)||Digital singles (units sold)||Streams||Total EAS|
Logically, the first two albums secure their spot as the most successful albums from One Direction. With overall sales easily over 10 million, they both belong to the very top albums of the decade. If it wasn’t for the This Is Us music video, Midnight Memories would be very close to them. It still performs incredibly well at 8,8 million.
The last two LPs end with over 5 million units each, which in itself is huge. Streaming give them some pride back – while in pure album sales Made in the A.M. sold just over half the total of Midnight Memories. The overall total shows a ratio of over 60% in spite of the 2015 album failing to benefit from the release of a Tour DVD.
In total, One Direction are up to 44,5 million equivalent album sales. This represents an average of almost 9 million per album.
The following sections list their most successful songs.
As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!
Sources: IFPI, Spotify, YouTube, Chartmasters.org.
BIGGEST TRACKS – One Direction
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 2011 – What Makes You Beautiful [Up All Night] – 4,700,000
2 2013 – Story of My Life [Midnight Memories] – 2,410,000
3 2011 – One Thing [Up All Night] – 2,210,000
4 2012 – Little Things [Take Me Home] – 2,030,000
5 2012 – Live While We’re Young [Take Me Home] – 1,930,000
6 2013 – Best Song Ever [Midnight Memories] – 1,810,000
7 2012 – Kiss You [Take Me Home] – 1,710,000
8 2015 – Drag Me Down [Made in the A.M.] – 1,450,000
9 2014 – Steal My Girl [Four] – 1,410,000
10 2014 – Night Changes [Four] – 1,150,000
We have more for you…
… Harry Styles‘ full CSPC analysis