The sale of records in a country are recorded each week in the nation’s charts. Generally, there are two different charts that represent sales of the week for both singles and albums. In the UK it is known as the “top 40” and in the States it is called the “Billboard top 100”.
Groups and performing artists will judge the success of a record release by how well it is doing on a weekly basis, and how well it does over its history. The United States record industry gives both singles and albums different awards to how many copies are sold. To win a gold disc 500,000 copies need to be sold, 1 million copies will win a platinum disc and to win a diamond disc 10 million copies need to be sold.
Many groups will arrange a big tour to celebrate the release of a new album. By doing this it promotes the new album, plus it will encourage the purchase of concert tickets. In 1971 “Yes” started their 170 show tour 6 months before the release of their third album “Yes”. The creation of an album can take years to produce. Great care is taken both in composing the individual songs and also in the recording studio. The most modern technology is available for the artists to create the perfect sounds that they are looking for. Many of them will shut them away from mainstream society in order to create the atmosphere that will be best suited to enhance their creativity.
There are some band that have simply had their concerts and then released live albums. The beauty of these albums is that they recreate the atmosphere of a live concert. The best-selling live album of all time was released by Eric Clapton in 1992. The recording of “Unplugged” was done in front of a live audience and went on to sell over 26 million copies.
This is a large amount of record sales but does not get the album into the top 50 of best selling albums. The best-selling album of all time was “Thriller” which was released by Michael Jackson in 1992 and has sold over 66 million copies. This record’s release was accompanied by a video that created as much interest as the record as the album.
Michael Jackson has created 5 albums that have sold over 20 million copies each yet he is still only the third all-time highest record selling artist. He has sold over 350 million records, yet both Elvis Presley and The Beatles have managed to sell over 600 million. It is now widely accepted that the Beatles have sold more than Elvis although it is nearly impossible to verify the final figures.
The sale of single records confirms the short time popularity of the artists. It will be the record that is being played most on the popular radio stations around the nation. Some bands may not have the musical creativity to be able to produce enough quality songs to create a hit album yet they are able to produce a great song that can head the charts. The best-selling single of all time is “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby. The record that has sold more than 50 million copies world-wide, is played every Christmas so each year people continue to make new purchases. Christmas is a period that encourages the release of major hit single records with bands and performers all looking to achieve a Christmas number 1.
Bing Crosby also released “Silent Night” in 1935 which is the third best-selling single having been purchased on more than 30 million occasions. However, his stranglehold on best-selling singles was broken in 1997 with the release of the Elton John single “Candle in the Wind”.
The record that portrayed the life of Marilyn Monroe was a big success initially, but its sales reached their height with the tragic death of Princess Dianna. At her funeral, Elton John played the single live and vowed it would be the last time he played it. This resulted in sales rising to today’s figure of more than 33 million. Record sales basically make or break an artist.