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Old Feb 14, 2003, 11:03 PM   #1
Wolf
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Join Date: Feb 05, 2001
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Default Beatles British singles sales

This excellent piece of information was compiled by a guy called Chartfacts for another Beatles forum. Copyright Simon Walters 2002.

Check it out:

I am basing my estimates of Beatles UK singles sales on a variety of sources, which are mentioned in the text below. The information is often contradictory, so trying to make sense of it all is not an easy task. I am starting with Love Me Do and Please Please Me. Further singles will be added when I have the time. If anyone has any other sources, please post them.

There are a number of ways to consider sales and I differentiate between them as follows:

1. Advance orders - orders placed by record outlets before a single has been released to the marketplace.

2. Shipment figures - the number of singles shipped by the record company to record outlets (retailers, distributors, wholesalers and mail order companies) before and after it has been released.

Alan Jones, in Record Mirror of 17 October 1987, commented on compiling a top 100 with Graham Walker of Music Week, which celebrated 20 years of Radio 1 as follows: the compilation process was an absolute nightmare. Getting hold of quantifiable data from record companies was almost impossible and even those that were willing to help were often foiled by their own internal accounting. So many companies have changed hands/nationality/distribution over the 20 year period that it was impossible to accurately track sales of many, many records.

3. Returns - singles not sold to the public and returned to record companies.

4. Over the counter sales [unit sales] - the number of singles sold by record outlets to the public. Many books erroneously quote shipment figures as over the counter unit sales.

The collection of information about unit sales data each week to produce the UK singles chart has become increasingly sophisticated since 1952. Until February 1969, it involved telephoning a small selection of record stores and because the sample was so limited, this could only give broad trends rather than specific sales information.

From 13th February 1969, British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) began collecting sales data from 250 record shops (out of about 5,000 in the UK) on behalf of BBC and Record Retailer (later Music Week). Sales were logged by hand and submitted to BMRB by post. With less than 5% of the UK shops covered, and the omission of big retailers like Boots and WH Smith, chart panel sales were a guide to unit sales rather than an authority.

Woolworths was sampled from 1975. By December 1977, there were 300 record shops on the chart panel, which increased to 450 by April 1978 and 750 by 1982. Although the panel was 750, not all were sampled each week - the minimum was 250.

Gallup took over from BMRB from 4th January 1983 and introduced computers to collect data from record shops. Until the end of 1987, the minimum number of shops sampled out of the panel was 250, which increased to 500 from the end of 1987 until February 1994. By the end of Gallups tenure as chart compilers, the minimum 500 was sampled from a panel numbering 1,250 stores.

From the early 1980s the collection of data became more and more accurate and chart panel sales became a better indicator of unit sales.

Millward Brown took over producing the UK charts on 1st February 1994 and the minimum sample has increased as follows: 1994 1,000; end of 1997 2,000; 1999 to date, 4,000. Today the sample of 4,000 is sourced from 99% of the singles market, that is, a 5,600 panel. It has therefore become very accurate indeed.

Singles and EPs Released by Parlophone and Apple, 1962 to 1970 - Estimated Sales

As the majority of Beatles sales were in the 1960s, one is reliant on record company information. EMI has published a certain amount about the Beatles catalogue. The singles have not always been available, having been deleted at certain times but most have been steady sellers periodically over 40 or so years. Their major sales periods are:

a) Initial release; b) 1976 re-release in picture sleeves (Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever and Let It Be had of course been released with picture sleeves in 1967 and 1970, respectively but the 1976 versions were different); c) death of John Lennon; d) 20th anniversary re-release.

Love Me Do (released 5th October 1962) 290,000 to 300,000

First charted in 1962, when it reportedly sold 116,227 units [Hits of the 60s, The Million Sellers, by Coryton and Murrells, 1990]. This must be a shipment figure, as the chart compilers did not calculate unit sales.

All Beatles singles were re-released simultaneously on 6th March 1976 in special picture sleeves (although all were available in plain sleeves and had not been deleted at that particular time). Love Me Do got into the lower reaches of the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

When John Lennon died, it charted at 156 and may have sold about 1,000 copies. On the 20th anniversary in October 1982 it was re-released and sold about 165,000. On the 30th anniversary in 1992 there were a further 3,000 to 5,000 sales.

Please Please Me (released 11th January 1963) 340,000 to 350,000

A unit sales figure of 310,000 in 1963 is given by [The Long And Winding Road, Neville Stannard, 1983]. This should be taken as a shipment amount.

In 1976 it got into the lower reaches of the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand. The 20th anniversary saw a further 30,000 or so unit sales. Total unit sales are probably somewhere between 340,000 and 350,000.

From Me To You (released 11th April 1963) 710,000 to 720,000

Sales of 660,000 are given by [Coryton/Murrells] up to December 1965. EMI presumably carried out an audit of Beatles sales at the tail end of 1965, as a lot of shipment figures are quoted from this date. In 1976 it got into the lower reaches of the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

[The Rock Lists Album, Tobler and Jones, 1982] published a top 100 of the sixties, based on estimates of record sales that they presumably gleaned from information provided by record companies. Although there are some omissions from their list, such as some Cliff Richard singles for instance, this is a great resource. From Me To You is ranked at 35 and I would estimate is at 690,000 unit sales.

20th anniversary 1983, sales were around 20,000.

The EPs

Extended play records had their own Record Retailer chart from 10th March 1960 to 30th November 1967, after which they were eligible for the Top 50 singles chart. Other music magazines made no distinction between singles and EPs.

EP Shipment figures

Disc music magazine awarded silver discs from 1959 (Side Saddle - Russ Conway was the first) to mark shipments in the UK of 250,000 copies of a record, whether they be singles, EPs or LPs. The award was given on trust - an executive of a record company had to write and claim an award from the magazine.

Parlophone claimed the following Beatles EP silver discs:

Date of Award / EP Title
24-08-1963 Twist And Shout (first EP in UK to be awarded a silver disc)
14-12-1963 The Beatles Hits
21-03-1964 All My Loving
13-02-1965 Long Tall Sally
30-09-1965 The Beatles No1
23-12-1967 Magical Mystery Tour

Twist And Shout EP (released 12th July 1963) 670,000

Sales of EPs were relatively small in UK up to 1963. The biggest sellers before the Beatles were Expresso Bongo - Cliff Richard and the Shadows (1960) with a shipment of 178,138, and Follow That Dream - Elvis Presley (1962).

Twist And Shout sold in quantities usually reserved for a regular single release. According to [The Long And Winding Road] it shipped 250,000 by 13th August and 400,000 by 18th November. [The Rock Lists Album] top 100 of the sixties has the EP at number 42, suggesting sales of around 670,000 by 1982.

Magical Mystery Tour Double EP (released 8th December 1967) 620,000

By the date of release, it had advance orders of 400,000. 600,000 had been shipped by mid-January 1968. [The Long And Winding Road]. [The Rock Lists Album] top 100 of the sixties has the EP at number 50, suggesting sales of around 620,000 by 1982.

[The Top 10 Of Music by Ash, Crampton and Lazell, 1993] lists what they consider to be the top ten EPs in UK. This helps estimate the remaining Beatles EPs that sold over 250,000:

The Beatles Hits (released 6th September 1963) 350,000 to 450,000

All My Loving (released 7th February 1964) 250,000 to 350,000

Long Tall Sally (released 19th June 1964) 250,000 to 350,000

The Beatles No1 (released 1st November 1963) 250,000 to 300,000

The rest of the Beatles EPs sold less than 250,000 each.

Non-EMI releases / Records for Export

Some examples are:

My Bonnie
Aint She Sweet
If I Fell
Cry For A Shadow
Sweet Georgia Brown

None sold in the UK in great quantities.

She Loves You (released 23rd August 1963) 1,890,000

Advance orders were placed for 235,000 copies by 14th August and around 500,000 by the date of release. (The biggest advance by August 1963 was for The Young Ones - Cliff Richard and the Shadows (1962) at 524,000 copies, whilst Its Now Or Never - Elvis Presley (1960) had an advance of approaching 500,000).

Shipments were as follows: 03-09-1963 500,000; 11-10-1963 750,000; 27-11-1963 1.05m; 31-12-1963 1.3m; 31-01-1964 1.5m [The Long And Winding Road].

From these figures, one can estimate that She Loves You passed the 500,000 unit sales mark by late September / early October and 1 million by the first few weeks of December 1963.

The 1976 re-issue reached the 50s in the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand. On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1983, it got to number 45 and sold about 15,000 to 20,000.

[Coryton/Murrells] and [Stannard] put final unit sales at 1.6m. In Record Mirror of 19th January 1985, She Loves You is placed as the 7th all-time best seller at 1.6m. [The Top 10 Of Music] gives a total of 1.89m, which is repeated in [The Top 10 Of Everything, Ash, (1998 to date)] and in Music Week 9th March 2002.

I guess that EMI carried out an audit of the whole Beatles catalogue in around 1987 when it revealed the shipment figures for Sgt. Pepper at 4.25m. The estimate for She Loves You was presumably increased from 1.6 m to over 1.8m.

She Loves You was the best selling single of 1963 and the UK all-time best seller between January 1964 and January 1978. It is currently eighth on the all-time list.

I Want To Hold Your Hand (released 29th November 1963) 1,750,000

Advance orders for I Want To Hold Your Hand were at 700,000 by 06-11-1963. (It had only been recorded on 17-10-1963 and received its mono mix on 21-10-1963). Orders reached 940,000 by 27-11-1963, two days before release [The Long And Winding Road]. This was the biggest advance in the UK, overtaking The Young Ones - Cliff Richard and the Shadows (1962) at 524,000 copies.

The initial factory pressing of the single before the release date was for 500,000, an unprecedented number in those days and would have taken at least a week to distribute.

Shipments: 31-12-1963 1.25m; 17-01-64 1.5m; January 1974 1.509m [The Long And Winding Road].

It is likely that I Want To Hold Your Hand was selling over 250,000 per week for at least its first three weeks on the market and passed the 500,000 unit sales mark by mid December 1963, and 1 million by the end of the year.

The 1976 re-issue reached the 60s in the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand. On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1983, it reached number 62 and sold about 5,000.

In Record Mirror of 19th January 1985, I Want To Hold Your Hand is the 8th all-time best seller at 1.5m. [The Top 10 Of Music] in 1993 gives a total of 1.64m. In 1987, its sales were reassessed at 1.75m.

I Want To Hold Your Hand was the second best selling single of 1963 and the UK second all-time best seller between January 1964 and January 1978. It is currently fourteenth on the all-time list.

Cant Buy Me Love (released 20th March 1964) 1,520,000

At least 1 million singles were ordered by 17-03-1964 in advance of release.

This record was probably selling at least 250,000 per week for its first few weeks on the market. Around 1.21m were shipped by 21st April [The Long And Winding Road]. Cant Buy Me Love was the best selling single of 1964.

A sales figure (should be shipment) of 1,286,963 is given up to September 1965 [Coryton/Murrells].

The 1976 re-issue reached the 60s in the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

In Record Mirror of 3rd December 1983, Alan Jones reported that the sales of Karma Chameleon - Culture Club were at 1.3m, only 50,000 behind Cant Buy Me Love, the 10th best seller of all-time to date.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1984, it got to number 53 and sold about 5,000 to 10,000.

Its sales have now been estimated at 1,520,000 and it is at twenty in the all-time list.

A Hard Days Night (released 10th July 1964) 730,000 to 750,000

600,000 had been ordered in advance by 10-07-1964 [The Long And Winding Road].

[The Rock Lists Album] top 100 of the sixties has A Hard Days Night at number 29. Sales can be estimated at between 720,000 and 740,000 by 1982. ([The Long And Winding Road] - probably quoting from Murrells - wrote that it shipped 800,000 by 23rd July and eventually sold 1.0m in UK. This is not backed up by any other publication).

The 1976 re-issue reached the 60s in the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1984, it got to number 52 and sold around 5,000 to 10,000.

It may be that EMI reassessed the sales of A Hard Days Night in 1987 but I do not know of any figures.

I Feel Fine (released 27th November 1964) 1,410,000

Advance orders: 05-11-1964 500,000; 27-11-1964 750,000
Shipment figures: 02-12-1964 800,000; 11-12-1964 1.0m [The Long And Winding Road]. September 1965 1,242,333 [Coryton/Murrells].

Excluding Sundays, Christmas and Boxing Day, it had about 27 days in 1964 to sell a million over the counter (at least 250,000 per week) and in all probability, it was able to do so. I Feel Fine was the second best selling single of 1964.

The 1976 re-issue got into the lower reaches of the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1984, it reached number 65 and sold about 5,000.

Its sales have now been estimated at 1,410,000 and it is at twenty-eighth in the all-time list (if White Christmas - Bing Crosby is included).

Ticket To Ride (released 9th April 1965) 580,000 (to 700,000?)

Advance order of 300,000

The 1976 re-issue got into the lower reaches of the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

[The Rock Lists Album] top 100 of the sixties has Ticket To Ride at number 61. Sales can be estimated at about 570,000 by 1982.

In 1985 on its 20th anniversary, it reached number 70 and sold between 5,000 and 10,000.

([The Long And Winding Road] wrote that it sold 700,000 copies, which seems to be an over-estimate).

Help! (released 23rd July 1965) 905,000
Advance orders: 21-07-1965 300,000
Shipment figures: 30-07-1965 500,000; 13-08-1965 800,000 [The Long And Winding Road]; 20-08-1965 815,874 [Coryton/Murrells]

It sold over 900,000 in 1965 [The Long And Winding Road] and [Murrells].

The 1976 re-issue reached number 37.

[The Rock Lists Album] top 100 of the sixties has Help! at number 18 with around 900,000 sales.

In [40 Years Of NME Charts, Rees, Lazell & Osborne, May 1992], a Top 100 of best selling singles from 1952 to 1992 is listed. Help! is at number 66 at around 900,000 sales. Generally, it seems to reflect estimated sales over the period, although it is not as accurate as The Official Chart of 2002.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1985, it did not make the Top 75 singles chart and sold about 5,000.

Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out (released 3rd December 1965) 1,385,000

Shipment figures: 08-12-1965 750,000; 20-12-1965 1.0m

It is possible that Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out managed to convert 1.0m shipment figures to unit sales by the end of 1965 but as one cannot be certain, it should be classed as a million seller by January 1966. It was the third best selling single of 1965 behind Tears - Ken Dodd, and The Carnival Is Over - Seekers.

The 1976 re-issue got into the lower reaches of the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1985, it did not make the Top 75 singles chart and sold about 5,000.

In 2002, the single was the 33rd best seller in the UK (if White Christmas is included).

Paperback Writer (released 10th June 1966) 530,000 to 540,000

Shipments: 300,000 by 15th June and 500,000 by 22nd June 1966 [Disc Weekly]
It sold over 500,000 in 1966 [The Long And Winding Road] and [Murrells].

The 1976 re-issue reached number 23.

[The Rock Lists Album] top 100 of the sixties has Paperback Writer at number 75. Sales are estimated at between 530,000 to 540,000.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1986, it did not make the Top 75 singles chart and sold around 5,000.

Yellow Submarine / Eleanor Rigby (released 5th August 1966) 510,000 to 520,000

Advance orders were 250,000 by release, which EMI had shipped to dealers by 10-08-1966 [The Long And Winding Road].

Shipments: 24-08-1966 300,000; 31-12-1966 455,000

The Beatles got an Ivor Novello award for best selling British single of 1966 (by British writers), with sales of 455,000.

The 1976 re-issue reached the 60s in the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

[The Rock Lists Album] top 100 of the sixties has Yellow Submarine / Eleanor Rigby at number 81. Sales are estimated at between 510,000 to 520,000.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1986, it got to number 63 and sold around 5,000.

Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields Forever (released 17th February 1967) 530,000 to 540,000

It shipped 350,000 copies by 20-02-1967 [The Long And Winding Road and Murrells] and 500,000 by 25-03-1967 [Disc Weekly].

It sold over 500,000 in 1967 [The Long And Winding Road] and [Murrells].

The 1976 re-issue reached number 32.

[The Rock Lists Album] top 100 of the sixties has Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields Forever at number 78. Sales are estimated at between 520,000 to 530,000.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1987, it got to number 65 and sold between 5,000 and 10,000.

All You Need Is Love (released 7th July 1967) 560,000 to 570,000

Advance orders of 300,000 [NME]

Shipment: 400,000 by 18-07-1967 and 500,000 by 16-08-1967 [NME]

It sold over 500,000 in 1967 [The Long And Winding Road] and [Murrells].

The 1976 re-issue got into the lower reaches of the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

[The Rock Lists Album] top 100 of the sixties has All You Need Is Love at number 68. Sales are estimated at between 550,000 to 560,000.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1987, it got to number 47 and sold around 10,000.

Hello Goodbye (released 24th November 1967) 690,000 to 700,000 or 780,000 to 790,000

It shipped 500,000 by 15-12-1967 [The Long And Winding Road]. NME wrote that the shipment of 500,000 was by 06-12-1967.

The 1976 re-issue got into the lower reaches of the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

[The Rock Lists Album] top 100 of the sixties has Hello Goodbye at number 36. Sales are estimated at 690,000.

In September 1987, Gallup / Music Week compiled the [Radio 1 20th Birthday The Top 100 Best Selling Singles of the last 20 years in the UK]. Hello Goodbye is at number 73, which corresponds with sales of between 780,000 and 790,000.

It was difficult for Alan Jones and Graham Walker of Music Week to track the sales of many singles for the September 1987 Top 100 and I assume that some were either left out or had to be roughly estimated on the basis of shipment figures. For Beatles records, the EMI archive is known to be fairly complete and presumably could give accurate shipment figures. It appears that Hello Goodbye shipped over 780,000 copies. I do not know how this compares to unit sales.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1987, it got to number 63 and sold around 5,000.

Lady Madonna (released 15th March 1968) 250,000 to 300,000

A silver disc was awarded by Disc magazine on 30-03-1968, indicating a shipment of at least 250,000 copies. It only spent 8 weeks in the Record Retailer Top 50 during 1968 and probably sold somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000.

The 1976 re-issue got into the lower reaches of the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1988, it got to number 67 and sold around 5,000.

Hey Jude (released 26th August 1968) 850,000 or 930,000 to 940,000

Shipment figures are as follows: 04-09-1968 250,000; 27-09-1968 558,535; 30-11-1968 700,000; 31-12-1968 800,000 [The Long And Winding Road] and [Coryton/Murrells].

The 1976 re-issue reached number 12.

[The Rock Lists Album] top 100 of the sixties has Hey Jude at number 24. Sales are estimated at around 820,000.

Hey Jude is at number 38 in the [Radio 1 20th Birthday Top 100], which corresponds with sales of 930,000 to 940,000.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1988, it got to number 52 and sold around 5,000.

In [40 Years Of NME Charts Top 100] Hey Jude is at number 75 with sales of around 850,000.

Get Back (released 11th April 1969) 570,000 to 580,000

A sales figure of 530,000 has been given for the 1969 release [The Long And Winding Road] and [Murrells].

The 1976 re-issue reached number 28.

[The Rock Lists Album] top 100 of the sixties has Get Back at number 63. Sales are estimated at between 560,000 and 570,000.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1989, it got to number 74 and sold around 5,000.

The Ballad Of John And Yoko (released 30th May 1969) 300,000 to 320,000

A silver disc was awarded by Disc magazine on 12-07-1969, indicating a shipment of at least 250,000 copies. It sold around 300,000 [The Long And Winding Road] and [Murrells].

The 1976 re-issue got into the lower reaches of the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1989, it did not chart and sold around 5,000.

Something/Come Together (released 1969) 200,0000

Excluding EPs, this is the first Beatles single since Love Me Do that was not eligible for a silver disc from Disc magazine.

The 1976 re-issue got into the lower reaches of the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1989, it did not chart and sold around 5,000.

Let It Be (released 6th March 1970) 250,000 to 300,000

Sold around 250,000 in 1970 [Murrells].

The 1976 re-issue reached the 60s in the BMRB Top 100 and sold a few thousand.

On its 20th anniversary re-issue in 1990, it did not chart and sold around 5,000.

Singles and EPs Released by Parlophone and Apple, 1962 to 1970 - Estimated Sales

Singles

1 She Loves You (1963) 1,890,000
2 I Want To Hold Your Hand (1963) 1,750,000
3 Cant Buy Me Love (1964) 1,520,000
4 I Feel Fine (1964) 1,410,000
5 Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out (1965) 1,385,000
6 Help! (1965) 905,000
7 Hey Jude (1968) 850,000 [or 930,000 to 940,000]
8 A Hard Days Night (1964) 730,000 to 750,000
9 From Me To You (1963) 710,000 to 720,000
10 Hello Goodbye (1967) 690,000 to 700,000 [or 780,000 to 790,000]
11 Ticket To Ride (1965) 580,000 (to 700,000?)
12 Get Back (1969) 570,000 to 580,000
13 All You Need Is Love (1967) 560,000 to 570,000
14 Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields Forever (1967) 530,000 to 540,000
15 Paperback Writer (1966) 530,000 to 540,000
16 Yellow Submarine / Eleanor Rigby (1966) 510,000 to 520,000
17 Please Please Me (1963) 340,000 to 350,000
18 The Ballad Of John And Yoko (1969) 300,000 to 320,000
19 Love Me Do (1962) 290,000 to 300,000
20 Lady Madonna (1968) 250,000 to 300,000
21 Let It Be (1970) 250,000 to 300,000
22 Something/Come Together (1969) 200,000

EPs

1 Twist And Shout EP (1963) 670,000
2 Magical Mystery Tour Double EP (1967) 620,000
3 The Beatles Hits (1963) 350,000 to 450,000
4 All My Loving (1964) 250,000 to 350,000
5 Long Tall Sally (1964) 250,000 to 350,000
6 The Beatles No1 (1963) 250,000 to 300,000

Copyright Simon Walters 2002.

Source:

http://spice.dotmusic.com/forums/Mes...D=273279&Id=69
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