Sunday, 16 May 2021

How many records have The Beatles sold?


At the height of Beatlemania, The Beatles sold far more singles that LPs. The album, as it became known, was considered a luxury item - well beyond the financial  reach of the core teenage market. This situation continued until the early seventies.

Singles

  • The Beatles released a total of 63 singles worldwide
  • By 2014, the official figure for US single sales was an astonishing 1.6 billion
  • Estimated world sales were well over 2 billion

Albums

  • The Beatles officially released 13 albums, plus three anthologies
  • They had a total of 21 Number 1 albums in the US. 
  • Total US album sales are estimated at around 177 million
  • Album sales outside of the US are in excess of 600 million
  • The Beatles (The White Album) is the biggest selling studio album. It has sold over 24 million copies.
These figures are lower than  those for later acts like Fleetwood Mac, Elton John and Michael Jackson. Those acts directly benefited from the increasing availability of affordable stereo systems and the albums that benefited from them. Older fans were now buying Beatles albums in large numbers but new younger markets were opening up.

Post break-up

Sales of Beatles albums have remained strong since the band broke up in 1970 . Compilations, such as the 'red' and the 'blue' anthologies have  sold particularly well. They were initially aimed at those who had once purchased the singles but also appealed to a younger market.. 


In fact the biggest selling album after Sergeant Pepper, Number 1s, a compilation of singles. This was only released in 2000, thirty years after the band last recorded together. 

New formats

Sales were also helped by the mass switch from vinyl to CD in the 1980s. Ironically, the CD format has seen a rapid decline in this century, while vinyl has undergone a mini revival. 

A new trend has been for special reissues and previously unreleased tracks. The Anthology series was a mass market example of this. 

More recently sales have become increasingly difficult to assess, as downloads of individual tracks are added to traditional singles & albums.

The Beatles Story (teaching resources)

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