Ask Billboard

Keith Caulfield answers readers' questions about Shania Twain, the Billboard Music Awards and Alanis Morissette.



I am a bit confused. I just read that Shania Twain's album "Up!" sold just over 5 million copies in the United States, yet on the Billboard album charts she is credited with a diamond award sign, which indicates sales exceeding 10 million, right? How can that be?

And secondly: how come album sales due to street date violations appear on The Billboard 200? Does that mean it is somewhat legal to violate street dates? And if not, why do these stores send their data if they're breaking the law?

Cheers from Berlin,

Tom Ehrhardt

Hello Tom,

Questions about Shania Twain's two-disc 2002 Mercury Nashville release "Up!" album are very popular with readers of "Ask Billboard." The two discs in the package contain the same songs, but each CD has different mixes of the tracks.

Nielsen SoundScan, whose data informs Billboard's charts, counts the release once for each sale. But the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group that certifies gold, platinum, diamond awards based on shipments to U.S. retailers, counts each disc separately, effectively doubling the total.

The set has sold 5.2 million units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Counting each disc in the package as a separate unit, the RIAA has certified "Up!" for shipments of 10 million to U.S. retailers.

As for your street date violation question, while it is highly frowned upon by record labels, it is not illegal to start selling an album before it's official release date. Billboard's sales charts are based on data collected at the point-of-sale by Nielsen SoundScan, so there is no way to hide sales of anything that is scanned into a retailer's cash register.


Hi Keith,

Will any of the Billboard Music Award shows come out on DVD? I really liked the 1995 and 1996 Billboard Music Awards.

Thanks for your time,

M. Early


The broadcasts of the Billboard Music Awards have never been available as a home video, and there are currently no plans for them to be released in the future.

For various reasons, including licensing and rights issues, the likelihood of copies of the show becoming available in the near future is slim. This is not unusual, as other shows, like the MTV Video Music Awards or the Grammy Awards, are not available to purchase either.

While sometimes a highlights or "greatest performances" from an awards show may be released, it is rare to find an entire broadcast for sale.


Hi Keith,

I was wondering how well Alanis Morissette's albums have done in the United States. I know "Jagged Little Pill" sold like hotcakes but her recent work seems to have fizzled out quickly. I am a huge fan and just want to know.

Thanks very much,


Hi Josh,

Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" has sold 14.3 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It is the second-best selling album of the SoundScan era, which began in 1991, behind Shania Twain's "Come on Over," which has sold 15.2 million.

Here are the unit figures for Morissette's other releases:

"Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" (1998): 2.6 million
"MTV Unplugged" (1999): 602,000
"Under Rug Swept" (2002): 995,000
"Feast on Scraps" (2002): 69,000
"So-Called Chaos" (2004): 414,000