US album sales 1962-2013
 
  The topic of record sales, and the accuracy thereof, is a highly vexed subject. Generally speaking, the most accurate US listings are the RIAA certifications for gold, platinum and multi-platinum discs, as these are derived from the actual accounting figures provided by the record company in question (these awards are not made automatically: the RIAA has to be asked to certify and be provided with the requisite documentation, not to mention paid for their trouble, which explains not only the delay in some awards but the complete absence of others), and even so, the range is very broad. For example, an album certified as gold has sold anywhere between 500,000 and 999,999 copies. It's worse for multi-platinum awards, of course.
 
  Bearing this in mind, how accurate are the figures in this list ? A little backstory first: I came upon this info while reserching something else, albeit BB-related, entirely, and in (of all places) a Bruce Springsteen forum. A poster going by the alias of Earthslayer started a thread on May 12th 2012 entitled "THE BEACH BOYS, BEE GEES and FLEETWOOD MAC......USA album sales", and it was just that, with The Four Seasons (albeit incomplete) for good measure. Their last post in the thread was February 24th 2014, since when silence.
 
  So, what to make of this ? It could of course be a very elaborate hoax... but to what end ? The inclusion of very precise SoundScan information seems to argue for the veracity of the figures, as do their broadly agreeing with accepted BB sales numbers. The exquisite detail on the country by country sales of Bruce's 2012 album Wrecking Ball similarly would tend to indicate someone with access to industry information, so on balance I'm strongly inclined to think these figures are indeed accurate, especially as sales for dozens of budget BB reissues/compilations are also listed. You decide.
 
  A few words of explanation: SoundScan, properly Nielsen SoundScan, was created in 1991 and first used by Billboard in November that year. Previously, Billboard tracked sales by calling stores across the U.S. and asking about sales a method that was inherently error-prone and open to outright fraud. SoundScan is a method of tracking sales of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada. Data is collected weekly from cash registers in 14,000 retail, mass merchant, and non-traditional (on-line stores, venues, digital music services, etc.) outlets and made available every Sunday (for albums sales) and every Monday (for songs sales) to subscribers, which include record companies, publishing firms, music retailers, independent promoters, film and TV companies, and artist managers.
 
  Regarding CEMA, it was a record label distribution branch of Capitol-EMI. The name CEMA stood for the four EMI-owned labels it originally distributed: Capitol Records, EMI Records, Manhattan Records and Angel Records. Subsequently, several other labels were distributed, including Chrysalis Records, Virgin Records and Blue Note Records. After a restructuring, CEMA was renamed EMI Music Distribution (EMD). CEMA Special Markets was the division which handled licensing of recordings by Capitol-EMI artists, and also distributed juke-box singles. (Thanks, Wikipedia !)
 
The key, such as it is: album titles in bold are the "canonical" releases - studio, live, "official" compilations and the major reissues. Who decides what constitutes the canon ? Me. Any arguements for or against any particular inclusion will be considered. Titles in italics denote a compilation of any hue. A difference in backing colour indicates a gold or platinum RIAA certified album. Work it out from the sales figures. :-)
 
  Enjoy, and as ever, corrections and addition welcomed at the usual email... and if Earthslayer somehow gets to see this, eternal thanks for posting the info, and I'd love to hear more about how you accessed the figures.
 
Andrew G. Doe, July 1st 2019
 
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