Certainly. That thread was very informative.Basil wrote:Hi seattleboy
Edu did this thread a while back
entitled Worldwide Sales: An Introduction
There were calls to make this sticky at the time. Would it be possible to graft Edu's posts from that thread onto this new one?
Cheers - Basil
Edu wrote:As more and more people seems to be interested in these matters of how much of an album or single a particular artist sold, i started to see that exist, either amongst "rookies" or even in some not so "new to the business", some perpetual misconceptions and doubts about some topics regarding this (fascinating) subject of record sales..
I decided then to write this small (kind of) introduction to this world of sales, gold & platinum records, certifications, soundscan vs shippments, etc..
I hope this can give some contribution to the pleasure of finding out which are the most popular songs, albums and artists in the history of recorded music that we all share in this forum..
You can also consider this post as a kind of draft of a "frequently asked questions" regarding records sales..
There is NO organisation tracking sales on a worldwide basis. What exists, in almost all countries of the world, is NATIONAL organisations, which i shall call National Record Associations (NRA) which handle all matters relationed with recorded music. One of those matters is the CERTIFICATION of record sales, the famous gold, platinum and more recently, diamond awards.
2) But attention! These NRA don't count the sales on the retailers! There are private enterprises who do that job (example: Soundscan). Unfortunately the weekly and up-to-date all time results of this continuous data research is not available to the general public, being the exception the Japanese market (am i right Mario?). Only through articles on the press (example: Billboard), or through ads or press releases from the labels themselves can these numbers be at the disposal of anyone who is interested. In the case of Soundscan a person can pay a fee and have access to this data but the fee is so high that generally only people inside the music industry can access it.
This data is then given to other organisation, not necessarily the NRA of that country, which makes public what we call the charts.
3) What the local NRA do that really interest us is the CERTIFICATION process (or accreditations like they are called in Australia). But attention! The sales of any album or single are NOT automatically certified by each NRA. For that to happen the label has to request a certification and to pay for it. What happens next is that the label has to furnish all legal documents that can confirm the pretended sales level, and then each NRA has people who go and check if this numbers are true by checking the label accounting books, this process is known as an audition.
What is checked is the number of records SHIPPED to the stores, NOT the records actually sold by each retailer.This latter task is, like i said before, made by other organisations. The label, by itself, only controls the manufacturing and the shipment, not the actual sales of a record, something that can eventually only happen a long time after the initial record release/shipment.
Only after being proved the authenticy of the data presented by the label is then emmited an official award to certify a particular sales (= shipment) level.
4) The main problem in certifying a record, especially records from the 70's and before, is to find those books and papers where can be seen how much of a particular record was shipped. Because many times in the old days things were not so professional as today, many times this search for documentation can take years (example: what BMG is still doing today regarding USA sales for Elvis Presley). And to check thousands of papers can really be a slow task. Nowdays that is not so difficult, and even catalog sales in the last 20 years are being tracked by the labels. So, the labels ALWAYS know how much of a record was shipped. And they never exaggerate those numbers. Why? Because they have to pay royalties to the artists, producers, musicians, etc. So if a label says a certain amount was shipped, it has to give a check with an amount of money proportional
to those sales. So, what can happen is a label to say that a record sold LESS than the real number, in order to pay less to the persons involved on the record. This happens, and especially in the old times (70's and before) this happened a lot (example: Meat Loaf vs. Epic regarding "Bat Out Of Hell" sales).
Edu wrote:5) There is a very interesting example of this opening of old (and dusty?) accounting books. It's about John Denver american sales. Till 1999, John had 9.75 million album sales certified by RIAA. After several emails of a big fan of him to persons on the RCA label, he received one saying that they would start searching for old documents in order to discover how much John had sold in US till the present time. Well, the time passed by and when it seems that it had been just an empty promise a surprise happened (sadly John had already passed away)..in May of 2001, almost two years after the promise of RCA (made by the same man who started the still ongoing process of the upgrade of all Elvis Presley sales), all the back catalog of John was actualized by the addition of 20.5 million album sales (including more 8.5 million unexpected sales for his "Greatest Hits" album). So, from less than 10 million John jumped to more than 30 million. This is a prime example of how much artists sales are still "hidden" on some offices. So, when we look at RIAA we have to keep in mind that many sales are still not seeing the light of day on their database, big examples being Stevie Wonder, still Elvis Presley, also the Beatles and all Motown artists roster of the 60's and 70's. Also recently, to the surprise of many people, the Queen catalog sales was open by their new American label and many millions suddenly appeared , leaded by the jump of 6 million in their first "Greatest Hits".
Why some labels don't upgraded sales can be due to many reasons, from fear of paying unpaid royalties to sheer lazyness. Depends of the persons that can take this kind of decisions. I believe that in near future each time more and more information about past sales will see the light of day, either in USA and outside. For instance, Warner upgraded many records on their catalog in France as recently as 2001, and now it seems will do the same in the UK. Also many NRA are constructing databases, examples being the NRA of Canada, France, Brazil and Australia. Soon we all will have a lot to discuss about. But remember, it's always in the hands of the labels the truth about sales, certifications depend totally of them.
6) It's necessary to be very careful when analysing sales data. Many times, too many times, journalists that aren't aware of the rules of certifications write things that are afterwards read by fans and then start to become a kind of fact even being not true. One prime example is that many Beatles fans think that the "White Album" is the best-selling album of The Beatles in the USA because the media says that it sold 19 million in America. What the journalist was not careful enough to check (and the fan likewise) was what is the meaning of a Platinum award for a double-album released in 1968..well, according to the RIAA, every double, or triple, or multi-disc album, released before 1982 (why 1982? because it was the year when the first commercial CD's were avalaible to the public), independently of its time lenght, has each individual CD on it counted as one unit toward certification. So, in reality "The White Album" sold 9.5 million copies (what is translated in 19xPlatinum by RIAA rules) and not 19 million copies. The same example in the press is the Pink Floyd's album "The Wall", cited as a 23 million seller instead of a 11.5 million seller DOUBLE album..The prime example on the singles side is the "We Are The World" single. When it was certified, back in 1985, the rule for a Platinum single was 2 (two) million units shipped, so 4 x Platinum means 4 x (2 million units shipped) = 8 million units shipped and NOT 4 million.
People cannot assume that Platinum means million, that depend of what kind of record we are talking about and the rules when the record was certified. The same problem happens with box-sets certifications. Many people believe that Springsteen's "Live 1975-85" 3-CD or 5-LP box set sold 13 million!!! Such thing could never be possible, it sold more than 4.3 million sets, and 13 million comes from multiplying 4.3 million times 3 CD for each set. The figure of 4.3 million for a 3-CD set is already exceptional enough. This rule (which started in 1991 and was improved in 1992) was made to call attention to the box-set market that was in expansion. But when we talk about certifications in the UK we don't need to worry, independently of the number of CDs inside an "album", each "album" is counted only once for certifications, so in the UK we translate awards directly to sales unlike in the USA. But attention, in many markets of the world, rules were changed some time ago, prime examples being the German and Brazilian certifications. So we always need to know the certification date in order to know how much sales the award represents..
Edu wrote:7) Many times, more often than people think, labels give personalized awards to the persons involved on a record. This awards are called "in-the-house" awards and they most of the times refer to worldwide sales. Once i saw personally on a record shop a 12-million global sales award for Bon Jovi's "Cross Road", a award that included the individual sales in each country of the world where that album had achieved a sales certification! So, the information is out there and what i think we are trying to do is to find it...Each artist, if he wants, also knows how much of each record he did sell, because he knows his/her royalty percentage and everytime it gets a new royalty check its only necessary to make the division (if he doesn't wish instead to simply ask the label..), and don't forget that artists have people working for them that check everything that they should receive from the label..And don't forget labels have to make profit, so they need to know what a record sells and where in order to know how much money they are doing. If someone in a high position inside a label wants to know how much a record sold that information is put together from all over the world and given to him. When a label wants to make any sugestion to an artist regarding promotion of a new record can also inform the artist where are his/her strongest markets using data about any particular country in the world. EMI for instance, in the last 4 years, made public his list of best-selling global albums, that's the reason we can be sure that "1" from the Beatles sold 28 million copies, and you can't be sure that McCartney staff checked if he received what is due to 28 million albums times his royalties as a songwriter and member of the band. EMI doesn't made up 28 millions because after a few days has to pay for those 28 million sales...
8) Certifications given after a certain amount of time after the record initial release date can be considered equivalent to actual all-time record sales, because there is no shop, after some months or years of having a particular record in stock, which will order more copies without having sold the ones previously ordered. If "Dark Side Of The Moon" shipped 18 million in USA presently its because it sold almost that number already, nobody orders again "Dark Side", a album already 30 years old, if it has still any copy in stock, if the retailer keeps ordering it it's because people still want to buy it..shops don't buy CD's to give profit to labels...
1) labels, and only labels, know the full picture regarding album sales, worldwide
2) some artists, veterans especially, and with good lawyers, also know the full story
3) National Associations certify sales based on the documents presented by labels, at their (labels) request, by doing an audit on the label accounting books. Both the research of documents by the label (especially decades old ones) and the audit can take some time
4) No global organisation certifies albums sales, the closest to this concept of global certification is the European IFPI with their Platinum Europe awards, which started in 1996 and are presented only to albums released in 1994 or afterwards (i'm waiting that they change this rule and permit any album, independently of its release date, to be certified..that would be fantastic!)
5) It's always necessary to know the rules of certification for each country and the certification date for each award, in order to know the actual units shipped
6) we can trust that 2 years or older certifications give us an actual ideia and very precise ideia of the number of copies a record sold in its commercial life till the present time
This is not the right thread for this kind of question. Here's the appropriate thread:madior wrote:what are the sales for ciara the evolution in uk please???????
Billboard sales dates are as follows.illmaceyougood wrote:On the Billboard Hot 100, the new chart date is September 8, 2007. Last week's was September 1, 2007. If I wanted to know which song was officially considered #1 on say, September 3rd, which one would it be?
Does this week's chart cover Sept. 2-8 or 8-14?