France Album Sales: AC/DC

Stiff Upper Lip (2000) Era

One new album without a superstar producer, one more album with no airplay hit. Stiff Upper Lip still wasn’t the flop their late 80s albums have been. Why? Barely because recent years success added to the band early days moved AC/DC to an other level, the one of legendary acts. Hot superstars need hits to sell well and suffer the risk of running out of fashion. Acts with several hot periods turn into legends who can sell a lot on the back of their name, their shows and the release promotion.

Debuting and peaking at #2, the album five weeks Top 5, selling slightly over 200,000 units for the year. The group status wasn’t only generating sales for AC/DC new albums but also their entire catalog. Below is the list of their past albums from 2003 to 2008 with added commentaries.

1976 High Voltage – 36,043
1976 Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap  – 26,397
1977 Let There Be Rock – 30,444
1978 Powerage – 25,370
1978 If You Want Blood You’ve Got It – 31,559

1979 Highway To Hell – 86,037
1980 Back In Black – 79,386
1981 For Those About To Rock We Salute You – 35,969

1983 Flick Of The Switch – 19,014
1984 ’74 Jailbreak – 15,363
1985 Fly On The Wall – 19,654
1986 Who Made Who – 12,451
1988 Blow Up Your Video – 16,671

1990 The Razors Edge – 42,851
1995 Ballbreaker – 37,370
2000 Stiff Upper Lip – 46,538

1992 Live – 169,351

1997 Bonfire – 4,420

Catalog sales of AC/DC perfectly reflects their different eras. Their 1975-1978 years were popular despite not that many hits, consequently all those five albums sold in the 25-36,000 units range, or 4-6,000 units per year.

Second era focus on huge Robert John “Mutt” Lange produced albums. Highway To Hell and Back In Black are incredibly massive at 13-14,000 units a year shifted. An interesting highlight is on the fact Highway To Hell outsells Back In Black in France, which may seem incredible from a US point of view where the latter outsold the former by 3 to 1. One of the reason is the fact Highway To Hell is by far the band most well known single ever in France. As an evidence of this situation, since the introduction of digital sales in the Singles Chart in 2012, this song charted as much as 28 weeks inside the Top 200. At their end, all three huge Back In Black hits combined for 6 weeks charted only.

All albums from years 1983-1988 sold under 20,000 units but still all of them are over 12,000 which is not bad by any means.

Most recent releases from 1990-2000 are among their best catalog sellers with very solid sales.

On its side, Live is an absolute monster, quite simply the biggest regular catalog seller out of all albums in the period in France.

To put all those figures into perspective, please be aware the Beatles best selling studio album in the same years, Sergent Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, sold 31,435 units. In other ways, the out of this world classic of the biggest band ever would be only the 8th top selling studio album among AC/DC discography. Outside of this album, only the White Album and Abbey Road sold over 25,000 units, all remaining Beatles sets are at 13,330 units (Revolver) or less. Yes, you are reading it well, the all-time low of AC/DC Blow Up Your Video would be easily the Beatles 4th biggest album. Liverpool band early albums are under 5,000 units. It is due to One compilation cannibalizing all their sales? Well, it sold 95,081 units, way down from AC/DC Live album at near 170,000 units.

Top 3 Most Streamed Tracks on Spotify
  1. Stiff Upper Lip – 2,814,000
  2. Safe In New York City – 809,000
  3. Can’t Stand Still – 623,000

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