'Hamilton's' Historic Chart Debut: By the Numbers
The cast album to the hot Broadway show makes an eye-popping chart debut.
Hamilton is one of the buzziest stage musicals in years, so it’s no surprise that its cast album makes a grand entrance on the Billboard 200 chart: it debuts at No. 12. The rap-leaning look at the life of Alexander Hamilton opened on Broadway on Aug. 6, and is sold out through January.
A Historic High Debut on the Billboard 200 Chart: The set’s launch at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 (dated Oct. 17) is the highest debut for a cast recording since the chart combined its mono and stereo tallies in 1963. Between 1959 and 1963, Billboard ran separate charts for mono and stereo albums. During that span of time, the original Broadway cast recording of Camelot was the last cast set to start higher: No. 4 on the mono album chart dated Jan. 23, 1961.
Second-Biggest Sales Debut for a Cast Album in the Nielsen Era: Hamilton debuts with 30,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Oct. 1, according to Nielsen Music. The bulk of those units were 28,000 pure album sales -- the second-biggest debut for a cast album since Nielsen Music began tracking data in 1991. Only the original Broadway cast recording of Rent racked up a larger bow, when it debuted at No. 19 on Sept. 14, 1996, selling 43,000.
Highest Charting Cast Album Since 2011: Hamilton scores the highest rank on the Billboard 200 for a cast album since July 2, 2011, when The Book of Mormon placed at No. 10. The previous week, Mormon re-entered the chart at its peak of No. 3, selling 61,000 copies in the week ending June 12 — the single-largest sales week for a cast album in the Nielsen era — thanks largely to the set being priced at $1.99 at the Amazon MP3 store. Also helping Mormon’s sales that week: The show won nine Tony Awards, including best musical, on June 12.
Largest Debut Sales Week for a Digital Cast Album: Hamilton’s sales start is mostly owed to its digital album, which arrived Sept. 25 in advance of its wide CD release on Oct. 16. The digital set accounted for 27,000 of its first week, while nearly 1,000 CDs were sold at the show’s venue, the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York. The album was released on Sept. 25 through Hamilton Uptown/Atlantic Records. Miranda is a Warner/Chappell songwriter.
Hamilton Is Only the Sixth Cast Album to Reach the Top 20 in the Last 50 Years: Hamilton is in elite company when it comes to high-charting cast albums. In the last 50 years, just six cast albums -- including Hamilton -- have reached the Billboard 200’s top 20. Before Hamilton, there was If/Then (No. 19 in 2014), The Book of Mormon (No. 3), Rent (No. 19), Dreamgirls (No. 11 in 1982) and Hair (No. 1 for 13 weeks in 1969).