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If hitting the top 40 of the Hot 100 makes a song a hit in America, what chart position defines a "hit album"?

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  • If hitting the top 40 of the Hot 100 makes a song a hit in America, what chart position defines a "hit album"?

    I know, I know, we can argue breathlessly about how the "top 40 = hit" definition fails in particular instances (top 40 songs that no one would consider a hit, songs that are widely considered hits that never reached #40, etc.), but it's a well-known rule of thumb.

    However, I've never heard any such general rule for albums. Is there a level on the Billboard 200 beyond which an album is generally considered a "hit"? Is it 80, since the chart is twice as big? Is it still just 40?

  • #2
    I would say that there are no criteria when an album becomes a hit that apply to everyone for the sole reason that standards are simply different. For some artists, selling 100k copies is a big thing, for others it's 2 mio. I would say doing at least 80% of the previous album is a hit and outdoing that would be a big hit. Generally speaking, maybe something that's rarely achieved? That would be: spending multiple weeks at the peak, spending a long time in the top 10, spending a long time on the chart, taking a long time to peak.
    Is it offensive to fall in love with you and everything you do
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    • #3
      Really think it depends on the artist. I think in many cases it means less now since less people are purchasing music - eg. artists hitting the top 5 but only selling a couple of thousand copies of their album - as well as US album sales being bolstered by single streams/ sales, which is odd. Many larger artists' releases are so ridiculously frontloaded that it barely matters how high they chart because they wont be there that long with their 2nd week 10 combined sales.

      Going back a way, you'd have albums which would sell phenomenally yet actually chart what you might consider low. I'd say for many artists just charting at all is an achievement, getting certified even moreso. If I hit the top 200 I'd be ecstatic, but if for some reason the Beyonces and Taylor Swifts of the world entered at 199 I doubt they would be.

      Also, echoing what theMathematician said, consistent sales achievement or even outselling previous efforts is a good measure of a hit album for artists regardless of their individual successes/ sales levels.

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      • #4
        Top 10 for albums.
        Britney Spears . Michael Jackson . Madonna . Metallica . Radiohead . Led Zeppelin . Oasis . Beyoncé . Soda Stereo

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        • #5
          I'd say for debut to chart at all is an achievement and can be termed a hit. As for subsequent releases... I've read in the 1980s it was considered that you've done good if the album went Top 100 (we're talking US here, though it wasn't specified which compiler's Top 100 it was - probably Billboard). I've always thought that any chart album is a hit - the higher it charts the bigger hit it is.

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          • #6
            I don’t think it has ever really been a common thing. Lots of talk about hit single and write ups, not so much hit album.

            i don’t think it should be artist based. Same as hit single is not artist based, but chart based.

            i never put much thought into it, but the little I did, I always just assumed top 100. No logic involved



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            • #7
              Is it profitable? If you had massive promotion, millions invested, and you sell 500k 5 years down the line, despite hitting #1 first week, it's a flop.
              However, if you're an independent artist and just organically you went top 100 from sales on your website, that is surely a big hit album.

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              • #8
                I don't really think that peak positions really are a good indicator for a hit song or album, especially these days with ticked bundles and very front loaded physical and digital sales in general. Gold and platinum records exist for a reason, I'd say it's a hit if you get one of these.
                Something useful I guess

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                • #9
                  It’s ridiculously easy to get a gold record nowadays,

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                  • #10
                    There's tons of artists hitting the top 10 or even #1 that will likely never even get gold status because most of their fanbase buy their album in it's first week, unless you're Drake or Taylor it requires several weeks of consistent sales and streams to even reach gold. And I won't say it's any easier to get certified nowdays than in the 90s for example.
                    Something useful I guess

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DefinitelyMaybeMaybe View Post
                      There's tons of artists hitting the top 10 or even #1 that will likely never even get gold status because most of their fanbase buy their album in it's first week, unless you're Drake or Taylor it requires several weeks of consistent sales and streams to even reach gold. And I won't say it's any easier to get certified nowdays than in the 90s for example.
                      The Box begs to differ.

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