France Album Sales: Mylène Farmer

Avant Que L’Ombre… (2005) Era

If Mylène Farmer had some competition in late 80s like Patricia Kaas or Vanessa Paradis, she had long surpassed them thanks to her back-to-back-to-back-to-back million selling albums. Such a string of massively successful records can only set expectations incredibly high.

By 2005 the market collapse was already referenced a lot, but at 83 million albums sold for the year, it was still quite healthy. As a comparison, 40 million albums were sold in France in 2015 while in both 1995 and 1999, years on which the artist previous two albums got released 115 million albums were sold. A juggernaut as Mylène Farmer was the least likely to be impacted by the decrease in general sales as investments for what is named there valeurs sûres, e.g. safe bets, remain strong, artists suffering in such periods are newcomers instead. An other market-difference from the era of her previous album is how album sales were starting to get more and more frontloaded due to internet expansion which increased overall awareness of release dates and exploded pre-orders numbers.

Starting with over 136,000 copies sold as per IFOP – incomplete by around 20% for the artist records at that period – within’ its first week, the album easily debuted at #1. By week 2 the set was down to under 43,000 units, a 70% drop that appears standard as of 2016 but was quite drastic back in 2005. That quick drop in sales was due to the lack of impact lead single Fuck Them All had. Entering at #2 thanks to fans collecting her records, the song dropped out of the top 20 after only four weeks. Then, it jumped to #3 thanks to fans again due to a limited edition release before dropping back to #18 the following week. That situation was a trademark of future years for the superstar – highly dedicated fanbase and lack of interest from the general public.

Unlike previous albums, Avant Que L’Ombre… failed to achieve one solid hit. Q.I., Redonne-Moi and L’Amour N’Est Rien singles all peaked at #7 on their proper debut week before dropping down very fast. Ironically, at the same period Moby single Slipping Away (Crier La Vie) featuring Mylène Farmer was a crossover smash hitting #1, but it wasn’t part of Avant Que L’Ombre… On its side, this album was out of the top 10 after only 8 weeks, three less than Mylénium Tour, the singer previous album although it was a live one.

In the same way, Avant Que L’Ombre… à Bercy, the accompanying live album which was now traditional after each Mylène Farmer studio set to exploit her dedicated fanbase as much as possible, was short-lived. Debuting at #1 in December, the album completely vanished from the Top 200 after 18 weeks.

In spite of those disappointing chart performances for the red-hair singer standards, the studio album still sold 525,000 units by the end of 2007 while the live LP moved 160,000 copies.

Top 3 Most Streamed Tracks on Spotify
  1. L’Amour N’Est Rien – 296,000
  2. Fuck Them All – 290,000
  3. Q.I. – 246,000

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