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Old 02-15-2002, 04:32 PM   #1
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Sting2 - Album Sales?

Sting2:

You have mentioned in the past that you estimate worldwide sales of ATYCLB at over 11 million and of JT at 20-22 million.

However, here is what U2.com is reporting:
On the back of last week's SuperBowl performance, All That You Can't Leave Behind has jumped more than forty places in the Billboard Chart.

The album, released 16months ago and with ten million copies sold to date, has shot up to No.25 in the latest Billboard Top 200 Album Chart. Previous to the band's half time appearance at the SuperBowl, the album was at No.66.

The jump in sales comes a fortnight before the band perform before another global audience at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. They remain on course to fulfill a prediction made last year U2's manager Paul McGuinness. He believes that eventually All That You Can't Leave Behind would become the biggest selling U2 album of all, outstripping even The Joshua Tree which has now sold 18m copies worldwide.


So while JT is indeed significantly higher than the oft-quoted 14M (which was the number used back in '87), both numbers are lower than your estimates. Do you agree, Sting2?
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Old 02-15-2002, 06:07 PM   #2
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Interesting that you just posted this info, because I was about to post some new hard data I got from this weeks issue of Billboard Magazine from the International section.
Universal, the company that owns Interscope records reports that ATYCLB hit the 10 million mark at the very end of 2001. My estimate at that time was 10,800,000 copies. So I was 800,000 copies off. I thought it might have been plus or minus 500,000 copies, so I was a little surprised to learn I was off by 800,000 copies.
In 2002, I have estimated that ATYCLB has sold another 295,000 copies so far. So instead of 11,095,000 which I had reported a few days earlier, the total so far for ATYCLB is 10,295,000. One could argue about 295,000 global sales over the past 6 weeks, but I think thats accurate and certainly not any lower than 250,000 for the past 6 weeks.
I'm a bit skeptical about info that comes from U2.com because I don't think the band and management are as closely tied to running it as many would think. Plus the first ones to know about the sale and shipment of the album is Interscope and their parent Universal. 2nd would be Band/management and last would be those that write for U2.com.
But the almighty record company has spoken in Billboard, and they give 10 million in sales at the very end of 2001 for ATYCLB. Limp Bizkits Chocolate Starfish album is at 11 million, another act owned by Universal. Eminem The Marshall Mathers is now at 16 million!?! Several other totals for albums were listed as well. None were above 12 million except for Eminem.
Now to the subject of Joshua Tree. Lots of articles were written on the band back then with them giving sales figures of 13,14, or 15 million in sales for Joshua Tree in 1987. At the end of 1987, Joshua Tree was at 4 million in the USA! That means at least 10 million outside the USA in 1987 alone. 1.5 million of that from the UK and between 1-2 million from Canada. Joshua Tree got the diamond award in Canada after only 7 months of release. Exact sales in other countries are not known, but I do have all the international charts from 1987 and the performance of the Joshua Tree outside of UK, USA, and Canada, is very impressive and better than any U2 album before or since.
Fast forward to 1995. Joshua Tree has now sold an extra 6 million copies in the USA. Adding that alone to 14 million world figure from 1987 would put the number at 20 million. Catalog sales in the UK are much slower than the USA. Joshua hits 6 times platinum in 92' after hitting 5 times platinum at the end of 87'. So thats a 20% increase. 20% of 10 million outside the USA figure from 1987 is 2 million. Add that to the 20 million and you get 22 million total for 1995! Thats 7 years ago!
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Old 02-15-2002, 06:49 PM   #3
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So 22 million in 1995 and now its been 7 years. Certainly Joshua Tree took a hit in 1998 when the Best OF... was released. But it has continued to sell. It may be passed 11 million in the USA already. Sometimes record companies wait for sales to add up before they certify again.
Consider that almost 60% of ATYCLB sales to date come from outside the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Joshua Tree is U2s biggest seller in every country around the world. Joshua Tree is approaching 11 million in the USA at least, nearly 2 million the UK, and nearly 2 million Canada. Thats 15 million for Joshua Tree from only 3 countries where exact sales are known. Consider that we know that almost 60% of ATYCLB sales come from outside these 3 countries and that ATYCLB has not topped Joshua Tree in any country. Its easy then to see that 18 million is certainly an outdated figure. 18 million was probably correct in 1991 right before the release of Achtung Baby.
McGuinness makes some big boast some times and I can see the management underreporting Joshua Tree to boost the significance of ATYCLB in the press. Its great promotion, especially for a band as old as U2, and makes people who think U2 should have broken up after Joshua Tree take a second look at ATYCLB. In a year or two away from the promotion time for ATYCLB, you might get a more honest sales figure for Joshua Tree.
Certified sales from USA, UK, and Canada as of 1995 are the guiding light. Based on that alone, there is no way in hell that Joshua Tree is at only 18 million worldwide in 2002. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Australia are not small markets and roughly the same size as the UK with similar chart performance for Joshua Tree. Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa are large markets as well. I could list many more countries.
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Old 02-17-2002, 02:52 PM   #4
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holy shit Sting2, you sure do do your homework! damn! good job

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Old 02-18-2002, 02:17 PM   #5
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Is it possible, Sting2, that the numbers being mentioned at various times are the usual "shipped" vs. "sold to consumers" debate?

That is, perhaps back in '87, that oft-quoted 14 million number was the number of albums shipped (sold to stores), but that the 18 million number mentioned now is the ACTUAL number sold to consumers? Back in '87, if 14 million albums were shipped, it may have taken a while for all of them to sell (i.e., stores over-stocked on the album) hence why we only see an increase of 4 million albums after 15 years.
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Old 02-18-2002, 07:38 PM   #6
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The only way overstocking can happen is if an album has not been released yet and the initial orders for the album are massive. Then the album does not sell to expectation and stores are left with large numbers of the album. This happened this past year with the Backstreet Boys. The thing is, stores will not order ANYMORE albums while they still have albums not sold in stock. Any more orders will be based on CURRENT DEMAND for the product and will not happen until existing stocks are sold.
The longer an album has been out, the more in line actual sales are to shipments. Also, when an album is shipped, as far as the band is concerned, that is an album sold. All international sales figures are shipment figures from the record company because not all countries use soundscan to record sales to consumers. Also, before 1991, soundscan did not exist except for the UK and a few other countries. More than half of Joshua Trees sales came before 1991.
So nope, its nothing to do with shipments vs. actual sales. The true figure remains unknown, but is obviously above 18 million.
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