Understanding: Billboard BB200 vs US Album Sales


I) Establishing Key Formulas

B) Scaling the Ranking

For a very long time the Billboard Album Chart has been a Top 200 ranking. During the last 15 years we have enjoyed tons of leaked charts with sales from the US, the UK, France, Australia, Canada and Japan. Thanks to those elements we have been able to know how many units an album sells at each position.

Obviously, it would be way too painful to create specific formulas for each and every position of the Top 200. Even more painful would be compiling each and every position of an album that we would like to estimate. As similar positions represent similar sales, grouping them and using an average for each group is far more relevant.

Consequently, chart runs will be studied by setting how many weeks an album spent:

  • At #1
  • Charting 2-5
  • Charting 6-10
  • Charting 11-20
  • Charting 21-40
  • Charting 41-100
  • Charting 101-200

Our experience with leaked charts tell us that a dozen years ago, the #200 album inside the BB200 was selling over 5,000 units a week, the #100 was moving more than 10,000 copies, about 20,000 units for the #40 album, the #20 was selling 40,000  copies, inside the Top 10 selling over 60,000 units was the norm and the Top 5 used to be close to 100,000 units or surpassing that figure.

The #1 album obviously sold more, with fluctuating numbers depending on its strength. The longest an album spent at the top and the most it was selling per week. This was ever truer before the Soundscan era when the high debuts on the back of the fan base and strong pre-orders didn’t exist. If we transform all those elements into a scale, we get following results:

  • At #1 = weight 22+3*the number of weeks at #1
  • Charting 2-5 = weight 14
  • Charting 6-10 = weight 10
  • Charting 11-20 = weight 7
  • Charting 21-40 = weight 4
  • Charting 41-100 =weight 2
  • Charting 101-200 = weight 1
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