Traveling Wilburys albums and songs sales

The term supergroup, is an oft exaggerated term but not so in the case of the Traveling Wilburys. With a line up that consisted of five bona fide music legends – Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty – the band’s creation announcement surprised the world.

Expectations for such an illustrious line up were high and the Traveling Wilburys did not disappoint, with both albums being seen as commercial and critical successes. Below we will review their success in more detail.

CSPC Traveling Wilburys albums and songs sales

Looking at the big picture: Traveling Wilburys

The creation of a rock monument

In 1987, George Harrison was enjoying his most commercially successful year, in almost 15 years, thanks to his comeback hit, Got My Mind Set On You, which topped the US charts. This single, along with its parent album Cloud Nine, were produced by Jeff Lynne, the mastermind of the iconic 70s band Electric Light Orchestra.

While recording Cloud Nine, both thought it would be a great idea to start a band. Harrison and Lynne respectively named Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison, as their additional, dream band members. Around this time Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were touring Europe with Dylan and Tom Petty got wind of Harrison and Lynnes “dream band” idea.

The quintet then got together in Bob Dylan‘s garage, for what proved to be a very successful first encounter. Harrison and Lynne were there working on a b-side for Cloud Nine‘s third single and invited Orbison and Petty along, to assist in the session. Ultimately, they all contributed to a song Harrison had drafted and titled it after a box in the garage: Handle with Care.

The obvious quality of the track persuaded both Harrison and his labels executives, to scrap it’s intended use as a B-Side. Instead, Harrison and Lynne decided to convert their fantasy line-up, into an actual band and asked Petty, Dylan and Orbison, if they would be interested in forming a band, to which they all said yes.

Recording of The Traveling Wilburys Vol I

One of the most fantastic line ups ever, the group were set. These artists, without accounting for the Traveling Wilburys, are responsible for 146 Top 10 albums, in either the US or the UK (54 by George Harrison including 47 with the Beatles, 50 by Bob Dylan, 18 by Jeff Lynne, 14 by Tom Petty, 10 by Roy Orbison).

Saying all that, previous success, is no indicator of future success, regardless of who you are and this previous success also brought its share of constraints, like a 10-day window, to record their debut album. This was mostly due to Bob Dylan‘s limited availability, as he was preparing for the start of his Never Ending Tour, which only concluded in 2020, due to COVID-19, after over 3,000 dates.

All five of the singer-songwriters worked together to create the songs, with Harrison and Lynne working as producers, managing the sessions and finishing tracks, after the short recording period was over. With a 10-song set, ready and contractual issues with all the labels involved, sorted, the album was released on October 18, 1988.

An unexpected smash album

While the bands line-up was indeed, incredible, the success of their album was not a given. Harrison was on a huge comeback, but his career had been inconsistent at best. Lynne‘s Electric Light Orchestra were losing steam, since the start of the 80s. Orbison was a late 50s,-early 60s legend and an idol for Elvis Presley, his last big hit though was 1964’s Oh, Pretty Woman. In 1988, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had just released their first so-so, performing album, in a decade.

Last but not least, the biggest name of the band, Bob Dylan, was in a terrible spiral, with no end in sight. His last album, Down in the Groove, peaked at a mere #61 position in the US, while just making the top 40 in the UK.

Supergroups had also been out of fashion for a few years, as the late 60s craze, powered by Cream was now long gone. The Traveling Wilburys took a different approach to most supergroups though, they didn’t take it too seriously. Their name came from a joke and with all five members being big Monty Python fans, they adopted a humour of that ilk. They pretended to be half-brothers, from a fictional Wilburys family. These weren’t supercharged egos, trying and fighting to be even bigger, they were relatively old, beloved legends, just having fun together.

And it all worked wonders. Both singles, Handle with Care and End of the Line reached #2 in the US Rock chart, catapulting the album to #1 in Australia and Canada and to multi-platinum status in the US and the UK.

The album also had an unfortunate boost, that the band members would have liked to avoid: Roy Orbison‘s passing. The rock pioneer, 52, suffered a fatal heart attack on December 6, 1988, only two months after the release of Vol I.

Aftermath

Following their unexpected success in 1988, their solo projects in 1989, all gained added press and attention. Roy Orbison had just finished recording Mystery Girl, before his death. Produced by Lynne, the album sold millions, proving to be his career peak, in many territories.

Dylan‘s Never Ending Tour was an immediate success. His 1989 album Oh Mercy, tripled the US sales, of its immediate predecessor. Tom Petty‘s first solo album, Full Moon Fever, also produced by Lynne, spent 34 weeks in the US top 10, peaking at 3 and selling over 5 million units stateside. It also brought the classic track Free Fallin’, which powered his Greatest Hits well past 10 million sales a few years later.

Ironically, the two members who came with the Traveling Wilburys idea first, Harrison and Lynne, didn’t enjoy a boost and for a good reason. Harrison simply never issued a follow up to Cloud Nine, by the time of his 2001 passing, 2002’s Brainwashed, came out as a posthumous release. Lynne‘s Electric Light Orchestra remained on hiatus until 2001’s Zoom and then again, until 2015’s Alone in the Universe, when Lynne was effectively the lone member of the group.

The pair just seemed to be more excited to work together, than on their previous projects. Lynne issued his debut solo album in June 1990, called Armchair Theatre, which had Harrison providing guitar and backing vocals on many of it’s tracks. Also in 1990, they managed to set up a new recording session with Dylan and Petty. As a quartet, they recorded a standalone single, a cover of Nobody’s Child and a follow up album, purposedly misnumbered as Vol 3.

Released in October 1990, it wasn’t as big as the debut album, but still shot to Platinum status, in the US, Australia and Canada.

Lynne was also contacted by the three surviving Beatles members, Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, to produce the 1995-1996 Anthology project. which resulted in 3 double albums, a book, a documentary and two new songs, in Free as a Bird and Real Love.

While they were keen on working together again, their busy schedules prevented this happening, although, despite this, they have never technically disbanded. Their two albums went out of print in mid-90s, due to contractual issues and were not available again until 2007, when said issues were sorted and The Travelling Wilburys Collection, which merged both albums, was released. Its success came as a surprise, as the album became the highest peaking box set of all-time both in the US (#9) and the UK (#1).

Petty‘s death in 2017, left Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne as the last living members of the band.

ChartMasters’ method: the CSPC

As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept (CSPC) in order to relevantly gauge the act’s results. It will not only bring you sales information for all albums, physical and download singles, as well as audio and video streaming. In fact, it will really determine the act’s popularity.

If you are not yet familiar with the CSPC method, below is a nice and short video of explaining the concept. I recommend watching it before reading on and to the sales figures. You’ll get the idea in just two minutes.

And if you want to know the full method as well as formulas, you can read the full introduction article.

Now let’s get into the artist’s detailed sales figures!

Traveling Wilburys album sales

CSPC Traveling Wilburys album sales breakdowns

Updated studio album sales & comments

The Traveling Wilburys Vol 1 and the Traveling Wilburys Vol 3 sold 7.1 million and 3.1 million units, respectively. These are solid numbers by anyones standards, even more so, when you consider how deep into their careers, most of the members were.

English speaking markets, where they all had their biggest share of previous success, are where they are also most successful. The debut is now past 4 million in the US and near half a million in both the UK and Australia. Of course the sophomore release did less but nearly 2 million in the US alone and over a million abroad.

Want to compare the act’s albums with others?

Traveling Wilburys songs sales

Below, we list down results from the artist through physical sales, digital sales and streaming.

Please be aware that when the artist is regarded as the lead act, they are rewarded with 100% of these units. However, featured acts share a 50% piece of the total.

Physical singles

Given the members ages, nobody was expecting anything from the Traveling Wilburys in the physical singles format.

Only the first two songs had traditional releases in the US, as well as in Europe, Handle With Care and End of the Line. They did surprisingly well, with just over a million units sold combined. The pair also sold 75,000 as a oldie double-A side reissue.

Subsequent singles were only limited releases, combining for 290,000 sales.

Digital songs

End of the Line is not too far away from a million digital sales. While it doesn’t match the biggest hits of the 80s, it’s a great performer from this decade. Handle with Care remains healthy too with more than half a million sales.

With a tiny catalog (25 songs in total), they combine for almost 2 million digital units.

Streaming

Streaming is made up of both audio and video streams. Our CSPC methodology includes both formats to better reflect the real popularity of each track.

The main source of data for each avenue is Spotify and YouTube, respectively. To factor in the growing impact of multiple Asian countries where these platforms aren’t always the go-to site for music streaming, more sources have been added.

In order to account for their real popularity in each relevant country, the below sources have been used along with the mentioned ratios that reflect the market share of each area.

Audio Streams
– South Korea: Genie streams * 2.20 (consistent with Gaon streaming numbers)
– Japan: AWA streams * 100 / 4 (AWA has 4% of the Japanese streaming market)
– Arabic world: Anghami streams
– Sub-Saharan Africa: Boomplay + Audiomack streams
– Elsewhere: Spotify streams * Spotify market shares based on artists’ market distribution

Video Streams
– China* : QQ video streams * 50 if the song is available for audio stream, QQ video streams * 5 elseway (scale built based on known figures for several major artists)
– Elsewhere : Youtube views increased by 10% to account for various local platforms

*since Chinese streaming platforms are mostly video streaming platforms, their streams are weighted on par with YouTube streams.

Audio Stream value – 1,500 plays equal 1 album unit
Video Stream value – 6,750 views equal 1 album unit

Equivalent Albums Sales (EAS) = ( Spotify * ArtistRatio + Genie * 2.20 + AWA * 100 / 4 + Anghami + Boomplay + Audiomack ) / 1500 + ( QQ views* 50(or 5) + YouTube * 1.1 ) / 6750

Top hits

CSPC Traveling Wilburys discography streaming statistics

No surprise with streams as the ranking of songs mirrors results from downloads. End of the Line is close to 200 million both sides, on Spotiffy and YouTube, with Handle with Care about halfway.

Note that every song from the original version of Vol 1 is over 6 million streams on Spotify, which highlights that people are still consuming the album in full.

She’s My Baby, the lead single of Vol 3 which also peaked at 2 on US rock charts, just like the big two from their first era, is mostly forgotten though. While Vol 3 lacks hits, deep cuts aren’t as shallow, scoring about a fourth of Vol 1 statistics.

Asian data is awfully low, as it is often the case with acts linked to classic rock, a genre which wasn’t as strong there back in the day.

Keep yourself up to date

Our website provides you a fantastic tool which fetches updated Spotify streams as you request them, use it to watch these results grow day after day!

Traveling Wilburys compilations sales

It sounds fairly logical to add together weighted sales of one era – studio album, physical singles, downloads, streams – to get the full picture of an album’s popularity.

However, older releases generate sales over various live, music videos and compilation albums. And all those packaging-only records do not create value. They exploit the value originating from the parent studio album with each of its tracks instead. Inevitably, when such compilations are issued, they downgrade catalog sales of the original LP.

Thus, to accurately gauge the worth of these releases, we need to re-assign sales proportionally to its contribution of all the compilations which feature its songs. Here is how we do that.

Assigning compilation sales to original studio albums

CSPC Traveling Wilburys Collection sales distribution

How do you understand this table? For example, if we check the first disc The Traveling Wilburys Collection line, these figures mean it sold 1,495,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included in this package add for 516,652 equivalent album sales from streams across all formats.

The second part (on the right of the table) shows how many equivalent streams are coming from each original album, plus the share it represents in the overall package.

Here as the content is exactly the same as Vol 1, 100% of sales are redirect to this album, and so on for the other records.

Raw compilations sales

The discograpy of the Traveling Wilburys is incredibly clean as outside of their studio albums, they only released the 2007 Collection, which bundled them together, along with a 3rd disc for their video content.

This table also lists several releases from Tom Petty and Roy Orbison which exploited Traveling Wilburys‘ singles, most notably on live albums. Naturally, only a small part of these sales go to the band, as they also contain valuable tracks from their solo catalog.

Here is the most underestimated indicator of an album’s success: the amount of compilation sales across all versions that were generated. Due to the dependency of sales of the original studio albums on these releases, they are a key piece of the jigsaw.

To clarify that, we take the Raw compilation sales results and assign the numbers to the related original studio albums, as described in the first section Assigning compilation sales to original studio albums.

CSPC Traveling Wilburys compilation sales

Bonus: Top selling compilations’ breakdowns

CSPC Traveling Wilburys Collection sales breakdown

Bonus: Total album (all types) sales per country

CSPC Traveling Wilburys album sales by market

Please note country-specific numbers may miss sales of a few minor releases, although totals are complete.

Traveling Wilburys: career results (CSPC)

So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album achieved? Well, at this point we hardly need to add up all of the figures defined in this article!

CSPC Traveling Wilburys albums and songs sales

Albums results (CSPC)

In the following results table, all categories display figures in equivalent album sales. If different, pure sales are listed between parentheses.

'Av.' stands for Average, 'LD' for Last Day.

As a reminder:

  • Studio Album: sales of the original album
  • Other Releases: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album
  • Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (ratio 3/10)
  • Download Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10)
  • Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500 for Audio stream and 1/6750 for Video stream)

Artist career totals

See where the artist ranks among remaining singers


The debut effort of the Traveling Wilburys powers to over 11 million sales. Its streaming units and catalogue sales are both good and this figure will continue to climb in the future. Even for the pedigree of its members, this total is impressive.

While Vol 3 wasn’t as big and is now struggling, it records nearly 5 million sales, which is still great in absolute terms.

As with most supergroups, their career was very short lived but a career total of 16 million, for a couple of fortnights of work, is insane. A lovely bonus, on top of finding great pals to have a great time with.

Singles results (CSPC)

The list is compiled in album equivalent sales generated by each song. Therefore, these figures are not merged units of singles formats. Instead, the list includes weighted sales of the song’s physical single, download, ringtone and streaming as well as its share among sales of all albums on which it is featured.

Want to compare the act’s songs with other top hits?

Discography results (ASR)

Thanks to our new ASR (Artist Success Rating) concept, we know that sales represent 10.05 million times the purchase of entire discography. Coupled with total sales, it translates into an ASR score of 69.

The ranking of all artists studied so far is available too at this link.

Records & achievements

  • At 11,192,000 EAS, The Traveling Wilburys Vol 1 is among the 10 best selling albums from 1988.
  • At #9 in the US and #1 in the UK, The Traveling Wilburys Collection was the highest peaking box set of all-time on both countries when first released.

Dynamic Spotify key performance indicators

Please note that numbers below are retrieved automatically. They will evolve day by day,
unlike previously listed data which is valid as of the publication date of the article.

Traveling Wilburys

Traveling

Current followers count: 1,219,378
1,000,000 followers have been reached on 10/31/22
>> Daily breakdown

Traveling Wilburys is #2737 among the most followed artists of all-time
>> Visit our Top 5,000 most followed artists ranking

Current streams count: 487,866,497
400,000,000 streams have been reached on 04/24/23
300,000,000 streams have been reached on 07/30/22
200,000,000 streams have been reached on 06/19/21
>> Daily breakdown

Traveling Wilburys is #3440 among the most streamed artists of all-time
Popularity Rating: /100

>> Visit our Top 1,000 most streamed artists ranking
>> Visit our Top 20 highest rated artists ranking

Current monthly listeners: 2,162,849 (Trend: -70,567)
Global chart position: N/A
The artist top 50 cities come from 14 distinct countries
>> Global impact breakdown

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

Sources: IFPI, Spotify, YouTube, Discogs, Billboard.

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