CSPC: Prince Popularity Analysis

Could You Be?

Doves cried on April 21, 2016 when one of the biggest icons of the 80s passed away, Prince. A unique artist in many aspects, the star went through multiple ups and downs during his 38-years long career. Are his sales as flashy as his songs and concerts were? Exactly 40 years ago, his debut single Soft and Wet entered Billboard charts, let’s use this opportunity to answer this question.

Writing, composing and playing nearly in full his first album For You at less than 20, Prince was immediately regarded as a music genius. The success came a year later though thanks to his early hit I Wanna Be Your Lover, his first US Gold record. The profile of the singer increased in 1983 when the album 1999 along with the song Little Red Corvette became smash discs, quickly followed by the title track and Delirious. A year later, the release of Purple Rain raised him to superstardom in the US while opening the global market.

The story isn’t as well known after that step. He got additional hits like Kiss, Batdance and Cream, but at the same time sales of his post-Purple Rain records are often summarized as disappointing. Where is the truth then?

As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to relevantly gauge his results. This concept will not only bring you sales information for all Prince‘s albums, physical and download singles, as well as audio and video streaming. In fact, it will also determine their true popularity. If you are not yet familiar with the CSPC method, the next page explains it with a short video. I fully recommend watching the video before getting into the sales figures. Of course, if you are a regular visitor feel free to skip the video and get into the figures.

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So if I get this right, Purple Rain is about 30 percent of his sales/popularity? That’s far more even than I would have thought- he had a very consistent career ala a Bruce Springsteen.


Not really, he only had a decade or so of multi-million selling albums while Springsteen was still having 2-million selling albums 40 years into his career… And yes, Purple Rain was way, WAY bigger than any other Prince album, so I don’t think “consistent” is the word you’re looking for 😉


the huge amount of albums he released created a sale that masks the disparity of this record. he released practically 1 album a year, which in the 80s/90s, however weak it was, could easily make 1 million.


He was such a great musician. 🙁

Did you include A Love Bizarre with Sheila E? I can’t find it anywhere.
He’s uncredited on it but he sings the entire song with her.
It was a Top 15 hit in the US and a Top 5 hit in Germany.


Prince was an outstanding and highly creative artist.


On page 63, titled “BONUS: Total Album (all types) Sales per Country”, what are all the albums types? If you don’t mind me asking.


MJD and the rest. Sorry I got carried away. I will not reply to your responses anymore to give it a rest.


I didn’t expect him to sell more than 100 pure album sales. That’s impressive however I still think he is overrated.

There are MORE MALE ARTISTS who haven’t been studied yet but who have sold better than Prince.


Literally how on earth is Prince overrated?


He is overrated because a lot of people is saying he is a legend. I know we have different standards but using the word “legend” must be applicable at least worldwide. I mean in terms of album sales, he has it but did he really have a popular worldwide hit single? I believe “Purple Rain” is unheard in most places in Asia. Also, do a lot of people around the world know him? That’s my opinion with Aretha Franklin too. People are telling she is the greatest female singer without any basis and that she is a legend which is… Read more »


I agree


I want to stress my comment about Prince having an impressive pure album sales. Impressive in a sense that I did not expect him to reach the 100 million pure album sales figure. But comparing his figures (even his total EAS) to other music artists, especially his fellow solo male music artists, it’s not really an impressive, and most especially not an extraordinary feat. Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Phil Collins have done better than him either in pure album sales or total eas. And prolly more male music artists to come. If Prince… Read more »


Celine is not a male singer. We have to categorized them because we simply cannot really compare the success of male singers to female singers and to bands/groups. And fine if we will include male singers. But who has the top-selling single so far? Whose songs are still being played on radio, tv, etc. Who revived the economy of Las Vegas? Look at Mariah, she’s still dominating every Xmas season. and both artists songs are usually being performed on singing competitions. Celine is not in the top 10 of all time but she has done extraordinary achievements. Besides, she’s still… Read more »


Talking about Aretha, my dear RLAAMJR, You are completely ignoring How The music industry worked in Aretha’s Peak (60’s and 70’s). Female Artists had much more troubles to face than male Artists. Think now about a Black woman in 60’s/70’s. What Aretha achieved is beyond incredible. She sold millions and millions records in a age where she was in complete disadvantage. She influenced all of The New generation and keep doing This, includes Celine.

You analyse the situations with no profundity and bring the history in the way that suits you. Think more, please.


Hi MJD, Purple Rain album “fastest-selling” album ever but again what matters is how much did the album sold in total and how well will it place against other top-selling albums of other music artists. Aretha having 73 singles in Hot 100 is not really impressive because most of them didn’t really become a hit, especially worldwide. And yes, Celine may have a poorer Hot 100 records and I could say it’s because she’s not American which Aretha is, but despite of that, Celine still sold more albums than Aretha even in the USA only and Celine songs are more… Read more »


Whitney and MJ also debuted in Prince’s era and were much more successful than him commercially. And you say it was easy to sell albums in the 90s? It was very hard, few females got multiple 10 million albums in the US, Celine got two. You don’t need to discredit her. Prince released 33 albums, but Celine outsold him by over 60 million. You just can’t deny she was more successful than him. 60 million is a lot!!! Commercially, Celine is a step above Prince. He did release albums even if you say he left, which is complete BS. He… Read more »


It’s funny how you discredited basically a major artists but at the same time try so hard to convince all of us that Celine Dion is the best thing on earth. Stop, buddy… Just stop!!! As already was said, Prince is a icon. He worked in a different way of the Pop icons and managed to sell a lot. He was a genius, a great performer, songwriter, producer, played several instruments and made albums by himself. And he influenced uncountable artists. We could do the same that you always do and desvalue Celine Dion’s career. Starting with the fact she… Read more »


I never mentioned Celine on my comment but go ahead if you think that will help you win the argument. Celine did write some lines one some of her songs. Also, they are called music artists, not songwriters, etc. Again, they are called music artists, not songwriters, guitarists, etc. Remember that. And I’m going to play your game. Prince is indeed multi-talented but despite of that, he still did not succeed as high as Celine did. For me, Celine is more multi-talented because she knows how to deal with other people that’s why she is succeeding with her endeavors. Celine… Read more »


Really MJ??

62 million is a few million?? Don’t be so biased.

She destroyed him commercially. It’s written in the numbers. Prince could have released 100 albums in the 90s,and he still would have sold less.

This has nothing to do with talent or artistry.


IMO and certainly from a UK perspective, I’d say Prince is more well known, more recognisable and more loved than Celine. Celine may have sold more, but Prince is definitely the one that is thought of and seen as an icon & star, in the UK. I’d also say his most popular songs have fared better over time and continue to be more well known and loved by the UK public, tracks such as 1999, Kiss, Purple Rain, When Doves Cry, Raspberry Beret, Little Red Corvette etc. Most of Princes work over the last 20 or so years, has probably… Read more »


I know It’s not just about album and single sales but sales is one of the good bases to know if a music artists is more well-known or not. So i cannot agree with you.


In the UK, Prince was already regarded as the cooler version of Michael Jackson.

Timothy Pernell

If he’s overrated, then so is rock and roll. You should have sat there and ate your food.

Brad Harris

Overrated? He was the most talented musician to have ever walked this planet. It wasn’t even close. There isn’t one musician who would ever be crazy enough to go head to head against him. Prince didn’t write songs just to be hits. He wrote songs to push the envelope. He wrote songs to get off on mentally. When he needed a hit, he wrote a hit. And if you combine the business side as well then it turns into a complete butt kicking. One of the first artists to use the internet, left a big label to go independent, got… Read more »


Wow, his streaming numbers show that he is an artist who was once big but hasn’t transitioned to the new age. The 280k in equivalent streams from Purple Rain isn’t bad but the rest of his discography makes him look like a one-album wonder. Terrible numbers. His case kinda reminds me of Janet Jackson; both are terrible streamers.


Oh okay thanks for the info, sorry if you mentioned it in your article and I missed it, I didn’t have a chance to read through everything.