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Old 04-04-2007, 08:22 AM   #1
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Are there DEFINITIVE sales figures for albums

I was wondering where some of the figures I have read on here over time have come from. They can be a million miles from what i read elsewhere. Eg, someone mentioned AB selling 18M wordwide....and that flies in the face of what I have read outwith this site


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Old 05-12-2007, 05:47 PM   #2
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I do know that AB had sold, according to both Flanagan's and del la Parra's books, about 4 million in the U.S. during their Outside Broadcast swing through the states.

And that was in '93 when the tour was still underway.

I don't know worldwide figures.


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Old 05-12-2007, 10:26 PM   #3
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Many of our estimates came from several sources.

Back in '97, Island released the sales figures in an article for all albums (I think in a paper in Australia).

However, we quickly noted some errors. For example, Island's figures only had JT listed as selling 14M copies. BUT there were numerous sources stating that JT sold 14M copies worldwide in just 1987! JT continued selling well in 1988 and is one of U2's strongest catalog albums - recharting every time U2 has a new album or tours. Plus, the RIAA listed JT as having sold 10M copies just in the U.S. I think the U.K. has JT close to 3.5M copies (if my memory serves). So there's no way JT has only sold 0.5M to 1M more copies in the rest of the world.

Hence, we base our information on either SoundScan data or certifications from around the globe.

Early on, in a CD's release, sometimes the RIAA certification is higher than actual sales. This is because the RIAA certifies CD's sold to stores, not customers. But over time, often the RIAA falls behind and does not reflect total consumer sales. For example, "Pop" has sold 1.5M copies to actual consumers in the U.S., but the RIAA only has it certified as Platinum, meaning 1M copies sold. Likewise, the RIAA quickly certified HTDAAB as 3x Platinum well before HTDAAB actually sold 3M copies to consumers. But that CD has gone on to sell more than 3M copies to actual consumers in the U.S., however, it won't get recertified until it sells at least another million copies to stores (may never happen or if it does, may take years).

With that in mind, based on the data we have, we know AB has sold, per SoundScan over 5M copies in the U.S. But AB came out early in the SoundScan era, back when some estimation was used and sales from record clubs and such weren't counted. The RIAA has certified AB as 8x Platinum, meaning closer to 8M copies sold to actual consumers (as the RIAA does count record club sales). Given AB's age, I feel this is an accurate number. So if AB has sold 8M copies in just the U.S., we estimate sales figures from other certifications from around the globe and get values from 12 to 18M. It all depends on who is doing the estimation.

I am more inclined to say AB has sold around 13-15M copies worldwide (I think 18M is too high).

But as we have no actual numbers from Island that are current, we only have our estimates.


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Old 05-16-2007, 09:39 AM   #4
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Let's face it, we really need some kind of press release to show the new figures and then everyone can stop making guesses, although I'm sure that even if such a press release did appear, people would question it as they did last time.
One thing is for sure, though, numbers have been inflated quite a bit, and the actual sales would probably be quite a bit lower than people believe. For example I've seen quotes of Achtung Baby as high as 18 million, but it would be nowhere near that. That whole "5.5 million soundscan but certified 8 million" argument makes things quite messy. Now we know that it went 5x platinum in 1993 (i think) and all of a sudden in 1995 it's 8x platinum = that would require sales of nearly 30,000 copies a week EVERY WEEK with NO singles NO tour NO promotion at all. Impossible. I'm willing to except perhaps a few hundred thousand for book club sales etc but a 3 million discrepancy can not be accepted. You could use the argument that soundscan figures were only 50/70/85% etc but didn't they compensate for that? And in any case the RIAA (which is what awarded 5xp in 1993) goes by units SHIPPED not sold, so the Soundscan figure wouldn't matter. In any case, it's certainly got me scratching my head!
I've done a lot of research over time and from the figures I have I've come up with some worldwide figures for ACHTUNG BABY onwards that would probably be in the ballpark. Let's see what you think....

How To Dismantle = US/CAN 3.65m EUR 3.85m WW 9m
Best of 90-00 = US/CAN 1.6m EUR 2.9m WW 5.5m
All That You Can't = US/CAN 4.85m EUR 4.4m WW 11m
Best of 80-90 = US/CAN 5.25m EUR 7m WW 14.5m
Pop = US/CAN 1.9m EUR 2.6m WW 5.5m
Zooropa = US/CAN 2.8m EUR 2.7m WW 6.5m
Achtung Baby = US/CAN 6.6m (or 9.6m) EUR 5m WW 13m (or 16m)


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Old 05-17-2007, 08:02 AM   #5
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AB cannot be 3m overshipped in US. It went 5xP in Aug '93, 7xP in Sept '95, 8xP in Aug '97.

Sept '95 was also when the other albums got upgraded with JT going from 6xP up to 10xP. So i'd say this was when the RIAA decided to include :
- the Music Club sales (1-2m for AB)
- &/or the sales at 100%

I agree 18m WW is probably too high but definitely 15-17m


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Old 05-17-2007, 11:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by edge3
AB cannot be 3m overshipped in US. It went 5xP in Aug '93, 7xP in Sept '95, 8xP in Aug '97.

Sept '95 was also when the other albums got upgraded with JT going from 6xP up to 10xP. So i'd say this was when the RIAA decided to include :
- the Music Club sales (1-2m for AB)
- &/or the sales at 100%

I agree 18m WW is probably too high but definitely 15-17m
Ah I see, thanks Edge3.
The point of my post though is that the figures people quote for albums are almost always too high.
I've seen Pop quoted at 7-8 million, but it's actually about 5.5 million. I know it had shipped that amount of copies around the world at the end of 1997 and being the weak catalogue seller that it is, there's no way it would have even reached 6 million by now. Zooropa would not yet have reached 7 million, I believe.
In the case of ATYCLB I have seen this quoted at 13.5-14 million but let me tell you it's nowhere near this. I have done a break-down of about 45 different countries of all the known sales and certifications, I came up with a figure of 11 million, maybe 11.5 at the most.
Here's what we know about that album....

USA/CAN/MEX - 5 million
EUROPE - 4.5 million
AUS/NZ - 500,000
Japan - 135,000
South America - 500,000
That's 10,635,000, plus all the other small Asian and African countries etc.
I saw a press release (I think it was around the release of either 90-00 or HTDAAB) saying that ATYCLB had shipped 10.8m at that point.


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Old 05-18-2007, 04:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by ChargedVT


Ah I see, thanks Edge3.
The point of my post though is that the figures people quote for albums are almost always too high.
I've seen Pop quoted at 7-8 million, but it's actually about 5.5 million. I know it had shipped that amount of copies around the world at the end of 1997 and being the weak catalogue seller that it is, there's no way it would have even reached 6 million by now. Zooropa would not yet have reached 7 million, I believe.
In the case of ATYCLB I have seen this quoted at 13.5-14 million but let me tell you it's nowhere near this. I have done a break-down of about 45 different countries of all the known sales and certifications, I came up with a figure of 11 million, maybe 11.5 at the most.
Here's what we know about that album....

USA/CAN/MEX - 5 million
EUROPE - 4.5 million
AUS/NZ - 500,000
Japan - 135,000
South America - 500,000
That's 10,635,000, plus all the other small Asian and African countries etc.
I saw a press release (I think it was around the release of either 90-00 or HTDAAB) saying that ATYCLB had shipped 10.8m at that point.
Hi ChargedVT, hope ur going well by the way. Nice to hear your views again. In response just thought i'd say :

ATYCLB : I thought that 13.5m figure was a one off shipment figure from the record company (circa Nov 2004).

Pop : I've only ever heard The Edge say 8m but i'm sure he was just bigging up the new 90's Best Of in that interview. So yeah i'm sure that was nonsense. Every other source i've seen though says either 6m or 7m. So I'd say 5.5-6.5m sold with 6-7m shipped (or simply 6m).

Zooropa : I've still got newspaper/music mag articles from 1996/97 which said 7m & 8m. & in US & UK it's sold ~1m more than Pop. So I'd say 6.5m-7.5m sold with 7-8m shipped (or simply 7m).


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Old 05-19-2007, 04:18 AM   #8
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Those figures for Zooropa :

- 'Zooropa duly shifted maybe 8m copies' (Andew Harrison in The Face fashion/music mag, Mar '97)
- 7.8m (The Guardian, UK newspaper, Oct '96)
- 'more than 7m' (The Times, UK newspaper, late '96)
- 7m (Q music mag, Feb '98)

The 7.8m figure seems like the record company shipment figure (the source had been talking to Polygram/Island insiders for this in depth article).


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Old 06-07-2007, 11:58 PM   #9
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Got this figures from a UKMIX forum "U2 album sales?"

Figs, from the Best selling artist thread, thanks to MJDangerous for them. I updated 18singles sales to 4.5m shipped, as it has sold 4m.

* Boy (1980,~3.8 million copies)
* October (1981, ~3.7 million)
* War (1983, ~9.5 million)
* The Unforgettable Fire (1984, ~8 million)
* The Joshua Tree (1987,~28 million)
* Rattle and Hum (double album, 1988,~14.5 million (29m discs))
* Achtung Baby (1991, ~17.5 million)
* Zooropa (1993, ~7.5 million)
* Pop (mars 1997, ~7 million)
* All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000, ~12 million)
* How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004, ~10 million)

* Under a Blood Red Sky (concert, 1983,~9 million)
* Wide Awake in America (mini-album, 1985, ~ 2.5 million)
* The Best of 1980-1990 (compilation, novembre 1998, ~16.5 million)
* The Best of 1990-2000, 2002 (compilation, ~6.5 million)
* U218 Singles (compilation, novembre 2006, ~4.5 million)

Total:160.5 million.

So MJDangerous claims to have these figures. And these figures are almost the same as the estimate figures by Edge3 and Sting2.


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Old 06-08-2007, 10:53 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mirrorball06
Got this figures from a UKMIX forum "U2 album sales?"

Figs, from the Best selling artist thread, thanks to MJDangerous for them. I updated 18singles sales to 4.5m shipped, as it has sold 4m.

* Boy (1980,~3.8 million copies)
* October (1981, ~3.7 million)
* War (1983, ~9.5 million)
* The Unforgettable Fire (1984, ~8 million)
* The Joshua Tree (1987,~28 million)
* Rattle and Hum (double album, 1988,~14.5 million (29m discs))
* Achtung Baby (1991, ~17.5 million)
* Zooropa (1993, ~7.5 million)
* Pop (mars 1997, ~7 million)
* All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000, ~12 million)
* How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004, ~10 million)

* Under a Blood Red Sky (concert, 1983,~9 million)
* Wide Awake in America (mini-album, 1985, ~ 2.5 million)
* The Best of 1980-1990 (compilation, novembre 1998, ~16.5 million)
* The Best of 1990-2000, 2002 (compilation, ~6.5 million)
* U218 Singles (compilation, novembre 2006, ~4.5 million)

Total:160.5 million.

So MJDangerous claims to have these figures. And these figures are almost the same as the estimate figures by Edge3 and Sting2.
So these figures could be very plausibel.


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Old 06-21-2007, 04:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mirrorball06

* The Best of 1980-1990 (compilation, novembre 1998, ~16.5 million)
* The Best of 1990-2000, 2002 (compilation, ~6.5 million)

If true, i find it amazing that the 80-90 cd GROSSLY outsells the 90-2000 cd.
I would have thought that the second best of disc would have been more appealing to the casual cd buyer


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Old 09-06-2007, 07:36 AM   #12
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worldwidealbums.tk came with the following sales figures:

Boy 3m+
October 3m
War 8m
UABRS 8m
Unforgettable Fire 7m+
Joshua Tree 24m
Rattle and Hum 12m
Achtung baby 16m
Zooropa 7,5m
Pop 5,5m+
Best of 80-90 11m
ATYLB 11m+
Best of 90-00 5m
HTDAAB 10m-
18 singles 4,2m

No figures for WAIA.

I can live with these numbers except for Best of 90-00. It sold far more than 11m. 7m in Europe and 4m in US. That's already 11m. Not counted the rest of the world.


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Old 09-12-2007, 01:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by gman


If true, i find it amazing that the 80-90 cd GROSSLY outsells the 90-2000 cd.
I would have thought that the second best of disc would have been more appealing to the casual cd buyer
There are several reasons for this.

First, the 1980's Best Of was released just before the illegal download era really took off. Those who really wanted the music on the 90's Best Of most likely would have illegally downloaded it, especially since the album contained tracks from previously released material.

Second, look at the sales for Zooropa and Pop - combined they are less than AB. AB clearly dominates the 90's for U2. Fans who enjoyed AB songs might be more likely to just buy AB rather than this 90's Best Of.

Third, the 80's Best Of contained that great B-side disc, which had, well, b-sides. The 90's B-side disc was mostly remixes, much to the annoyance of everyone. So that decreased the incentive to get it.

Lastly, 80's U2 has had time to sit with people. By the time the 80's Best Of was released, JT has been out for 11 years! This created feelings of nostagia. Plus, 80's U2 had a time to remembered as being "classic" and "great". In contrast, when the 90's Best Of was released, the decade had just ended. Pop and, to a lesser extent, Zooropa (along with OS1), did not have time to create those nostalgic feelings. Additionally, when one thinks of U2, they think of those 80's classics, AB songs or songs from the two '00 releases. Hence, there wasn't as much incentive for people to buy the 90's Best Of.

In fact, I wouldnt' be surprised if the bulkof the 90's Best Of sales weren't to fans of the band who would buy the album regardless - much like the "18 Singles" release.


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Old 10-12-2007, 06:39 PM   #14
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Pimm Jal's book says that The Joshua tree sold 7m copies before the European tour and sold almost 17m copies when pop is released.

And it says that Achtung baby sold 7m before the Zoo tv tour started and 8m by the end of the first leg and almost 12m when Pop is released.

And it also says that ATYCLB reached the 11m worldwide in mid 2002 with 400.000 in Brasil. From which sources are these figures? Did Billboard report these numbers?


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Old 10-23-2007, 10:17 AM   #15
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I got this sales information from U2.com about the re-release of The Joshua Tree.

http://www.u2.com/news/index.php?mode=full&news_id=2163


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