France best selling albums ever: Money For Nothing by Dire Straits (1988)
Out of the dreadful mid-80s sales context in France, Dire Straits was one of the very few acts to surface over the water. With a 1988 booming market, Christmas gifts around the corner and a compilation full of past hits, the British band was poised to do well with Money For Nothing release.
They did just that, quickly jumping to #1. In late 1988 / early 1989, it totaled 12 weeks at #1. At the time, hits packages were still charting at times on the main chart – France charts have never been very consistent on their chart rules. In fact, a few months after the release, the album was excluded from the ranking.
Certifications still have been updated frequently enough to know accurately its sales. Platinum upon release, 2xPlatinum in early 1989, 3xPlatinum in 1990 and Diamond in 1991, the record needed less than three years to join Brothers In Arms among France million sellers.
After the 1989 chart exclusion, this set has never been seen on French charts anymore, not even after the introduction of both the Compilation and the Catalog charts. Retrospectively this appears to be a non-event. In fact, those charts were created late in the 90s/early 00s, while this package was replaced in 1998 by Sultans Of Swing – The Very Best Of.
The couple of live albums, 1993 On The Night and 1995 Live At The B.B.C., had already spread the band catalog sales among several releases. As an example, in UK, where charts are a deep Top 200 since 1994, we notice this album re-entered every years from 1991 to 1996 but never charted anymore since. In Italy, it wasn’t part of the Top 16,000 list of albums that sold 100 copies or more during 2009. In other words, this set is dead for very long. It still sold an estimated 180,000 from 1991 to 1998, most of them in the first half of that span. Since that period it only added remaining shipments plus the few sales enabled by Amazon and digital platforms that contain even deleted records.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,220,000 copies.
As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!
Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, Platine.
That said, their French sales were superb during the eighties and the early nineties.
Dire Straits have lost a lot of appeal in the last decades. They are still popular (some of their hits are huge still to this date) but not like other classic groups and definitely not the scale they had back then. The same applies to others like Supertramp or Simon & Garfunkel, for example.