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Ask Billboard: Prince Of Album Sales

After a month of dissecting divas' SoundScan album totals, we turn to spotlighting one of the top male artists of the past 30 years.

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Hi Gary,

I love reading your posts. I notice lately you’ve been bombarded with questions about “divas.” How about a question about a “divo”? I am looking for Prince‘s top SoundScan numbers. Can you please help me out?



Thom Lewis
Naperville, Illinois

Hi Thom,

Let’s see if the divas can handle sharing the spotlight with a male superstar this week.

Prince enjoyed many of his most popular albums before the advent of SoundScan data in 1991. So, first, let’s look at his top-certified releases according to the Recording Association of America (RIAA):

“Purple Rain (soundtrack)” (1984), 13-times Platinum
“1999” (1982), 4-times Platinum
“Around the World in a Day” (1985), 2-times Platinum
“Diamonds and Pearls” (1991), 2-times Platinum
“Emancipation” (1996), 2-times Platinum
“Batman (soundtrack)” (1989), 2-times Platinum
“Musicology” (2004), 2-times Platinum

The RIAA tallies Prince’s overall sum at 39.5 million units certified, the 36th-best total of all-time.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, here are Prince’s top-selling albums, again, since 1991:

2,548,000, “Purple Rain (soundtrack)” (1984)
2,462,000, “Diamonds and Pearls” (1991)
2,047,000, “Musicology” (2004)
1,715,000, “The Hits 2” (1993)
1,618,000, “The Very Best of Prince” (2001)
1,433,000, “The Hits 1” (1993)
1,080,000, “The Love Symbol Album” (1992)

Since 1991, Prince, including his totals with the Revolution and New Power Generation, has sold 19.9 million albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan.


Hi Gary,

I just wanted to point out a highlight on Country Songs this week. With Jason Aldean‘s “Big Green Tractor” holding off both George Strait‘s “Living for the Night” and Justin Moore‘s “Small Town USA,” he joins Darius Rucker (“It Won’t Be Like This for Long”) and Brad Paisley (“Then”) as the only artists to post three-week runs atop the chart in 2009.

One other item: on the Billboard Hot 100, with Jason Mraz moving back up 35-30 with “I’m Yours,” not only is the song in its record-extending 73rd week, but it also ties the for longest run in the top 40. At 61 weeks spent in the top 40, the song ties the run of LeAnn Rimes‘ “How Do I Live” in 1997-98. It looks likely that Mraz can claim the record all to himself next week.


John Maverick
Burt County, Nebraska

Hi John,

Thanks for your keen analysis of Country Songs, as always. Not only is Aldean enjoying his longest-running No. 1 on the chart with “Big Green Tractor,” the song also rises 21-18 on the Billboard Hot 100, his highest career placement. “She’s Country” marked his previous best, having reached No. 29.

In addition to equaling Rimes’ record on the Hot 100, Mraz has matched a feat on Digital Songs, as well, just as it looked like he was about to take sole ownership of the mark. “I’m Yours” spends a 71st week on the chart, which is tied for most weeks on the survey since it began contributing to the Hot 100 as of the Feb. 12, 2005, chart week.

What’s the song tied with? The one at the list’s No. 75 anchor position, where Journey‘s “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” re-enters. The 1981 classic has now also spent 71 weeks on the chart, so, for now anyway, that and “I’m Yours” share the longevity mark in that span.

Journey’s return to the chart is likely owed to Fox-TV’s Sept. 4 re-airing of “Glee,” which featured the song prominently.


Hi Gary,

After the huge success of the first two singles, what will he next single be from the Black Eyed Peas‘ “The E.N.D.”? Also, how many copies has the album sold?


Robert Becker
Knoxville, Tennessee

Hi Robert,

Even though “I Gotta Feeling” remains atop the Billboard Hot 100 for an 11th week and Pop Songs for a fifth frame, Interscope Records is already promoting the follow-up, “Meet Me Halfway” (not a remake of Kenny Loggins‘ ballad that reached No. 11 on the Hot 100 in 1987).

The new single is bubbling under Pop Songs, with early radio airplay detected in such major markets as New York (Z100), Los Angeles (102.7 KIIS-FM) and Chicago (103.5 Kiss FM).

Since its release, “The E.N.D.” has sold 1,028,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.


Dear Gary,

I was wondering if you could please let me know how the new Beatles remastered sets will figure into next week’s album charts.


Mike Paras

Hi Mike,

Here is the official word from Billboard 200 chart manager Keith Caulfield on the new Beatles releases, as they pertain to our charts:

“The two new box sets from the Beatles will chart on the Billboard 200, as the tally houses current and new releases, generally those 18 months old or less. On the Top Comprehensive Albums chart, both old and new albums mingle. Thus, the individual album reissues of the Beatles’ catalog will chart on the Top Comprehensive Albums and Top Pop Catalog Albums charts.”

Browse billboard.com’s exclusive in-depth coverage of the Beatles’ recent multi-media whirlwind.

Here in New York (and online), listeners were treated to wall-to-wall Beatles Wednesday on WCBS-FM 101.1, which counted down the top 101 Beatles songs of all-time to celebrate the reissue of the band’s catalog. The specialty programming was quite the musical magical mystery tour, and the list’s lower rungs especially provided either a reminder to aficionados or an introduction to more casual fans of the band’s deep cuts that often don’t receive airplay. The countdown also spotlighted radio at its best – creative, timely and interactive.

View the ‘Fab 101’ here, and see how your favorites stacked up. (My favorite Beatles song ranked at No. 12).