France best selling albums ever: Live by AC/DC (1992)
When songs like T.N.T, Back To Black, Highway To Hell, You Shook Me All Night Long, Hells Bells and Thunderstruck among others never got packaged together, you are poised to expect big sales once such a release comes out.
In fact, just like several classic rock bands a la Pink Floyd or Metallica, AC/DC had no greatest hits album on its catalog until Iron Man 2 Soundtrack in 2010. Thus, the closest thing to a compilation was the Live album they released in late 1992 along with many more best of albums released in the LP replacement era. You add to this context the fact AC/DC is one of the, if the not the, biggest selling catalog band in France, you get an album crossing the million mark.
Considering there was obviously no new song on this set, Highway To Hell live version was used to promote the record. It started quite decently with three weeks #3 during November 1992 and a Top 20 spot retained until the end of February. Selling a calculated 155,000 units during its first year, it added 211,000 copies the following one, being certified Platinum (300,000) in the middle of it.
A solid success already, the album life was everything except over. In 1995, it re-entered charts, peaking at #17, selling over 100,000 units during the year. Even when not being part of the ranking, the album was accumulating large amounts that pushed it to 2xPlatinum (600,000) status during the third quarter of 1996 (please note 1996 certifications have their audit date missing in SNEP website).
Due to the lack of activity from the band and the short-sized chart, Live stayed off the radar from 1997 to 2000, although it was always adding from 500 to 1,000 copies a week to its total. In 2001 (#40) and in 2003 (#29) it registered two more big years. From 1997 to 2002, the album sold an estimated 230,000 copies.
From 2003 to 2008, GFK figures are known and add for 169,000, making it one of the top 5 deep catalog sellers in the country. Yes, your counts are correct, the album passed the million at that point. With a figure of 620,000 by the end of 1996, this milestone was completed sometime around 2008. Diamond certification was no more set at 1 million so the award couldn’t be granted anymore.
Since 2009, with the release of Iron Man 2 (2010), Live At River Plate (2012) and the overall decrease of the market, the album sells less copies per year but is still doing wonders. In these last 7 years, it sold over 135,000 copies.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,155,000 copies.
As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!
Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, IFOP, GFK.