Single estimations way too low – I have always thought 70 -75 Million is closer to the mark (that is everything up to Abba’s break up in 1982, Let’s look at what we know.
Estimations: I am only looking at the really big hits (Those that I believe have sold a million or more) some of these estimations will be slightly over some will be slightly under but I believe that given the information that we have, that they are as accurate as we can get at present:
Ring Ring – 1+ million - (including the re-issue in 1974/75
Waterloo – 5 million – sold about 800,000 in USA, 417,000 in France,
Honey Honey – 1 million – sold massively in Germany
I do x 5 – 1.5 million (would have sold some 400,000 in the USA)
SOS – 4 million (was big hit in a lot of countries)
Mamma Mia – 3.5 million. -
Fernando – 6+ million - 400,000 in Australia, 602,000 in France,
Dancing queen – 6+ million (this was truly a massive selling single) and sold over 2 Million in the USA and UK alone.
Money, Money, Money - 3.5 Million –(massive in Europe) 550,000 in France, 244,000 in Australia,
Knowing me knowing you – 4 million. 540,000 copies in the USA, 845,000 Copies in the UK.
The name of the game – 3.5+ million. 560,000 copies in the USA, 700,000 in the UK.
Take a chance on me – 4 million – sold nearly two Million between the UK & the USA.
Summer Night City – 1.5 Million (not a big seller by Abba’s standards at this point) 250,000 copies in the UK, 150,000 copies in Sweden.
Chiquitita – 5 million – I stand by the 2.5 million in South & Latin America.
Does your mother Know – 2 million. (Although only a number 19 hit in the USA it still had a longish chart run so would have sold approx. 400,000 there)
Voulez vous – 1.0 million – sold the most copies in the UK
Gimme Gimme Gimme – 2.5 Million. Sold the most copies in France 583,000.
I have a dream – 1.5+ Million big hit in south and Latin America.
The winner takes it all – 3.5 Million (Would have sold about 800,000 to 900,000 in America has it had a long chart life)
Super trouper – 2.5+ Million (about 1.2 million between UK & Germany)
One of Us – 2+ million – Abba’s last really big hit.
= 68.5 MILLION in total
Then you have to add on the sales of the smaller selling singles of which there have been many : People need love,(Sweden and Nordic countries) Another town another train,(Zimbawe) Nina Pretty Ballerina, Hasta Manana,(Italy, New Zealand) So long, ,(World wide release) I’ve been waiting for you, rock me, (Australia/ New Zealand) That’s me,(Japan) Eagle, Thank you for the music,(most of Europe) As good as new,(mexico) Angeleyes,(Europe & USA) On and on and on,(USA and Australia, lay all your love on me, (Europe) Happy new year, Andante Andante (was released in south and Latin America countries at the time) Head over heels,(World wide release) The visitors, (USA) when all is said and done, (USA) The day before you came, (World wide release) Under Attack (World wide release) – these singles may have sold the required 6.5 million between them around the world to bring the total of about 75 Million + and let’s not forget that it was claimed many times in the 1970’s and 1980’s that Abba sold more LP’s than singles. So for both LP’s and Singles Abba easily hit over the 175 Million that I think they have sold by the end of their career as an active group.
If we take an example of say GGG (I like to make things difficult for myself – 480,000 in the UK and in France 583,000, 300,000+ in Germany, 235,000 in Japan = 1,608,000 leaving less than a million for the ROTW to bring it to its estimation of 2.5 million – which is highly plausible as Abba had broken into the South & Latin America markets, it was also a hit in Australia and in most of Europe so as with most things it may have sold 2.63 Million or it may have sold 2.46 Million I have rounded the numbers up or down to half Millions to make the overall estimations easier.
But the devil is in the detail – I accept some of these estimations will be too low, whilst others will be on the high side – but mostly – given the information that we have, they make sense.
Maybe the only way to work out Abba’s singles sales is to go through each single as a separate post and agree on a estimation – I am happy to do that.
if we do not think that Abba books (at the time the group were active), as being accurate or fair minded as representing Abba sales, then we look to the music press of the day and not just Billboard – UK -Record Mirror was a music magazine that gave lots of record figures. Not only Record Mirror but the more heavyweight music press in the form of New Musical Express wrote in 1980 (they were doing a big feature on Abba that was not altogether complimentary) it did say and I quote that by the end of the 1970’s Abba is reckoned to have sold 150 million records and cassettes and that is before their recent spate of platinum, and gold discs (this would mean the WTIA and the Super trouper LP and Singles.