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Music Sales Figures
October 22, 2004 1:03 AM   Subscribe

A friend mentioned to me this morning that ACDC's Back In Black album is the third highest selling album worldwide of all time. I found this hard to believe so I set out to verify it with the help of Google. Surprisingly worldwide sales figures appear to be tricky to come up with. Is there a page out there with accurate information?
posted by salmacis to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
 
Best Selling Albums of All Time; Top Ten Albums of All Time; Best Selling Records of All Time all place Back In Black around 5th or 6th, with 19 million US sales. The guy who compiles the list in the first link (updated this month) does say that worldwide sales figures are hard to come by, so take your friend's assertion with a grain of salt -- but it does look like one of the stalwarts.
posted by dhartung at 1:27 AM on October 22, 2004


AC/DC was as popular in Europe as the States, so it's not hard to believe.

It's one of my all time favorite albums - I never tire of it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:35 AM on October 22, 2004


Garth Brooks is on the verge of becoming the best selling artist of all time (US sales only). Can we condemn US culture now?

On the helpful side, the ifpi run the world music awards annually, awards are based solely on worldwide sales so they must have some way of keeping score, and indeed, the site keeps track of sales on a weekly basis. The ifpi website suggests they may sell some info commercially, but maybe they have some stuff online that might be of use to you.
posted by biffa at 2:36 AM on October 22, 2004


dhartung, as you have found, it's not hard to come up with sales figures for the USA. I also found your first link. But to add a gratuitous snark, the USA != the world. That wasn't the question I asked. I found it odd that such information wouldn't be readily available somewhere.
posted by salmacis at 3:09 AM on October 22, 2004


This site says Back in black is not the second highest seller iin the world, without any solid numbers to back it up. Coke Music says "AC/DC have sold more than 40 million albums world-wide." Which of course is just a blanket figure without breaking down BIB's sales.
posted by riffola at 4:25 AM on October 22, 2004


The RIAA's own stats page ties it for 6th as well.
posted by Remy at 4:51 AM on October 22, 2004


Surprisingly, only #48 in Australia.
posted by smackfu at 6:31 AM on October 22, 2004


According to Vice, Back in Black is also at 6th place.
posted by sleslie at 6:32 AM on October 22, 2004


So, to sum up then, Back in Black is the sixth best selling album in US history. I think that answers your question satisfactorily salmacis.
posted by biffa at 9:08 AM on October 22, 2004


So, to sum up then, Back in Black is the sixth best selling album in US history. I think that answers your question satisfactorily salmacis.

Seriously? How many times does the guy have to say that he doesn't give two shits about US sales, he wants to know if it's the third best-selling album in WORLD history? Again, US != World.
posted by rorycberger at 10:42 AM on October 22, 2004


How much thicker does biffa need to lay on the sarcasm, rorycberger?
posted by Kwantsar at 11:28 AM on October 22, 2004


Wisecracks don't help people find answers. Thanks.
posted by smackfu at 11:39 AM on October 22, 2004


The King earns his crown

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Michael
Jackson's Thriller - with worldwide sales exceeding 54 million copies - is
the biggest selling album ever.

Even more incredible, is the the fact that four other King of Pop albums
have made it to the 100 worldwide best seller list. They are: Bad and
Dangerous at No. 21 and 23, both with 27 million copies sold; HIStory at No.
70 with 17 million double albums sold and Off The Wall at No. 77 with 16
million copies sold.

(rank, estimated world sales in millions, RIAA Certified Platinum level,
Soundscan sales 1991-now (if known), TITLE, Artist (year).


001 54 million THRILLER Michael Jackson (1983)
002 42 million BACK IN BLACK AC/DC (1980)
003 41 million GREATEST HITS 1971-75 The Eagles (1976)
004 40 million SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER Soundtrack (1978)
005 37 million THE BODYGUARD Soundtrack (1992)
006 37 million BAT OUT OF HELL Meat Loaf (1978)
007 35 million THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON Pink Floyd (1973)
008 35 million COME ON OVER Shania Twain (1997)
009 32 million SGT.PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND The Beatles (1967)
010 32 million0 DIRTY DANCING Soundtrack (1987)
011 30 million LED ZEPPELIN IV Led Zeppelin (1971)
012 30 million RUMOURS Fleetwood Mac (1977)
013 30 million MILLENNIUM Backstreet Boys (1999)
014 30 million LET'S TALK ABOUT LOVE Celine Dion (1997)
015 29 million ABBEY ROAD The Beatles (1969)
016 29 million FALLING INTO YOU Celine Dion (1996)
017 29 million TITANIC Soundtrack (1998)
018 28 million JAGGED LITTLE PILL Alanis Morissette (1995)
019 27 million MUSIC BOX Mariah Carey (1993)
020 27 million 1 The Beatles (2000)
021 27 million BAD Michael Jackson (1987)
022 27 million GREASE Soundtrack (1978)
023 27 million DANGEROUS Michael Jackson (1991)
024 26 million HOTEL CALIFORNIA The Eagles (1976)
025 25 million APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION Guns & Roses (1988)
026 25 million SUPERNATURAL Santana (1999)
027 25 million BACKSTREET BOYS Backstreet Boys (1998)
028 25 million BROTHERS IN ARMS Dire Straits (1985)
029 25 million BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER Simon & Garfunkel (1970)
030 24 million 0 BORN IN THE USA Bruce Springsteen (1984)
031 24 million ... BABY ONE MORE TIME Britney Spears (1999)
032 24 million SLIPPERY WHEN WET Bon Jovi (1986)
033 23 million 0WHITNEY HOUSTON Whitney Houston (1985)
034 23 million THE IMMACULATE COLLECTION Madonna (1990)
035 23 million SPICE Spice Girls (1996)

038 22 million TAPESTRY Carole King (1971)
039 22 million DAYDREAM Mariah Carey (1995)
040 22 million CAN'T SLOW DOWN Lionel Richie (1983)
041 22 million 0 TRUE BLUE Madonna (1986)
042 21 million.0 GREATEST HITS Simon & Garfunkel (1972)
043 21 million THE SIGN/HAPPY NATION Ace Of Base (1994)
044 21 million SOUND OF MUSIC Soundtrack (1965)
045 20 million THE WALL Pink Floyd (1979)
046 20 million PLEASE HAMMER DON'T HURT 'EM MC Hammer (1990)
047 20 million LIKE A VIRGIN Madonna (1984)
048 20 million 1967-1970 The Beatles (1973)
049 20 million RICKY MARTIN Ricky Martin (1999)
050 20 million SPIRITS HAVING FLOWN The Bee Gees (1979)
051 20 million GREATEST HITS Elton John (1974) *
052 19 million OOPS! ...I DID IT AGAIN Britney Spears (2000)
053 19 million WHITNEY Whitney Houston (1987)
054 19 million 1962-1966 The Beatles (1973)
055 18 million BOSTON Boston (1976)
056 18 million PURPLE RAIN Prince (1984)
057 18 million THE WOMAN IN ME Shania Twain (1995)
058 18 million THE BEATLES (WHITE ALBUM) The Beatles (1968)
059 18 million THE JOSHUA TREE U2 (1987)
060 18 million ALL THE WAY...A DECADE OF SONG Celine Dion (1999)
061 18 million THE SCORE Fugees (1996)
062 18 million (WHAT'S THE STORY) MORNING GLORY Oasis (1995)
063 18 million BREAKFAST IN AMERICA Supertramp (1979)
064 17 million CRACKED REAR VIEW Hootie & The Blowfish (1995)
065 17 million HYSTERIA Def Leppard (1987)
066 17 million MARIAH CAREY Mariah Carey (1990)
067 17 million THE MARSHALL MATHERS LP Eminem (2000)
068 17 million COMES ALIVE Peter Frampton (1976)
069 17 million SPICE WORLD Spice Girls (1997)
070 17 million HISTORY Michael Jackson (1995)
071 17 million ROMANZA Andrea Bocelli (1997)
072 16 million NO FENCES Garth Brooks (1991)
073 16 million NO STRINGS ATTACHED 'N Sync (2000)
074 16 million UNPLUGGED Eric Clapton (1992)
075 16 million FAITH George Michael (1987)
076 16 million USE YOUR ILLUSION I Guns & Roses (1991)
077 16 million OFF THE WALL Michael Jackson (1979)
078 16 million JANET. Janet Jackson (1993)
079 16 million BUTTERFLY Mariah Carey (1997)
080 16 million TUBULAR BELLS Mike Oldfield (1973)
081 16 million MERRY CHRISTMAS Mariah Carey (1994)
082 15 million THE EMINEM SHOW Eminem (2002) *
083 15 million GREATEST HITS Queen (1981)
084 15 million YOURSELF OR SOMEONE LIKE YOU Matchbox 20 (1997)
085 15 million NO JACKET REQUIRED Phil Collins (1985)
086 15 million II Led Zeppelin (1969)
087 15 million GREATEST HITS Kenny Rogers (1980)
088 15 million LEGEND Bob Marley & The Wailers (1984)
089 15 million GREATEST HITS VOL.2 The Eagles (1982)
090 15 million GREATEST HITS VOL.1& 2 Billy Joel (1985)

090 15 million GREATEST HITS VOL.1& 2 Billy Joel (1985)
091 15 million TRAGIC KINGDOM No Doubt (1996)
092 15 million THE LION KING Soundtrack (1994)
093 15 million ACHTUNG BABY U2 (1991)
094 15 million PHYSICAL GRAFITTI Led Zeppelin (1975)
095 15 million THE MISEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL Lauryn Hill (1998)
096 15 million USE YOUR ILLUSION II Guns & Roses (1991)
097 15 million TO THE EXTREME Vanilla Ice (1990)
098 15 million THE COLOUR OF MY LOVE Celine Dion (1994)
099 15 million BAT OUT OF HELL II - BACK INTO HELL Meat Loaf (1993)
100 15 million RAY OF LIGHT Madonna (1998)


Mjni.com is the most reliable-feeling source for this information that I could find.
BTW, found via searching Google's usenet archive for 'best selling albums of all time world', but I'll leave it as a reader's exercise to figure out how I found the MJNI article.
posted by lazy-ville at 6:22 PM on October 22, 2004


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