➡️ American sales are far greater than most countries. They are a little higher than German sales and nip-and-tuck with British sales. But the USA has by far the largest music market in the world. Relatively speaking, ABBA did far less well in the USA.
➡️ Compared to other countries ABBA had much more modest succsss in the USA. Only four Top 10 hits and one #1 single. None of their albums made the Top10 - until Voyage in 2021.
➡️ Other acts at the time had far more success. The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, ACDC and Meatloaf with album sales. And the Bee Gees, Chic and Donner Summer with singles.
➡️ Americans were late to the ABBA party. Gold Greatest Hits has sold about 11 million copies since its release in 1993 -a year after the rest of the world. That their US record company has not applied for a Diamond Award for more than 10 milliion sales is a mystery. That's a very impressive figure!
➡️ Perhaps reasons for their relative lack of success at the time include not touring which was/is very important for the US - only once in 1979 and their record company not promoting them consistently. For example a high profile "ABBA Month" in May 1978 - then next to nothing. Plus also radio stations were/are very one genre dominant and ABBA didn't quite fit in to any particular genre? What do Americans think?
Tracking American Sales;
1958 RIAA introduces gold awards for sales (shipments) ie sales to retailers
1976 RIAA introduces platinum awards. Multi-platinum awards awarded in the 1990s
2004 Digital downloads counted
2013 Streaming counted for singles
2016 Streaming counted for albums
1991 Soundscan starts tracking sales (to customers). Music Clib sales, which were large in the 1990s were not used.
2003 Soundscan begins tracking downloads
2004 Soundscan begins tracking Streaming
|The Album *||1,000,000|
|Greatest Hits vol 2||500,000|
|Gold - Greatest Hits||6,000,000|
|The Best Of - 20th Century Masters||500,000|
RIAA database here Please note ABBA Gold has not been updated for RIAA certifications since 2002 and the Best Of since 2003. Many other countries, notably the UK and Australia have regular gold, platinum and multi platinum updates.
* The Album had sold 1.3 million by 26/08/78 (source: Billboard Magazine, here). It was ABBA's biggest selling album in the US during their career. It seems very unlikely that The Album sold twice as much as Arrival, Voulez Vous or Super Trouper. They most have been near 1 million sales each at the time too.
Dancing Queen and Take a Chance on Me certified gold - which was for 1,000,000 sales in the 1970s. Platinum then was 2,000,000. In 1989, due to declining singles sales, platinum was reduced to 1,000,000 and gold to 500,000. These were retrospective. Therefore ABBA's record company at the time Atlantic could have upgraded Dancing Queen and Take a Chance on Me to platinum. They didn't. Nor did they apply for gold awards for singles that certainly passed 500,000 sales eg Waterloo, The Winner Takes it All, Fernando, The Name of the Game and Knowing Me Knowing You.
These figures don't tell the whole story
1) A 1980 compilation the Magic of ABBA is said to have sold 2, 000,000. However, it was on the K-Tel label which is not a member of the RIAA so not eligible for gold or platinum awards.
2) Gold and Best of are under-certified. "Gold" is under-certified by about 3 million and the Best Of compilation about 1.5m
3) The certifications are for minimum sales eg gold certification for sales of 500,000 to 999,999. Add extra 2 million or so.
4) Albums that sold less than 500,000 eg Waterloo, ABBA, The Visitors, The Singles, More Gold, The Definitive Collection etc. Add another 2 million.
Likely sales nearer to 20m than 10m!
SOUNDSCAN SALES, selected albums
|Gold - Greatest Hits||6, 067,000||01/2021|
|Best Of ABBA||1, 824,000||01/2020|
|The Definitive Collection||342,000||01/2009|
|Oro: Grandes Exitos||16,000||01/2006|
ESTIMATED ABBA ALBUM SALES in USA
1. Gold Greatest Hits, 11,000,000
2. Best Of - Millennium Collection, 2,000,000
3. The Album, 1,500,000
4. Greatest Hits, 1,300,000
5. Arrival, 1,200,000
6. Super Trouper, 1,000,000
7. Voulez Vous 900,000
8. Greatest His Volume 2, 600,000
9. The Visitors, 500,000
10. The Singles, 500,000
11 The Definitive Collection, 350,000
12. Number Ones, 250,000
13. Voyage, 200,000
14. Waterloo, 200,000
15. ABBA, 200,000
16. More Gold, 150,000
Plus many more compilation albums.
ABBA's album sales of back catalogue studio is very small. Many acts have their old studio albums selling in the hundreds of thousands or even millions. For example, the Beatles' Abbey Road and Sgt Pepper albums have sold over 6 million each in the US in the period 1991 to 2021.
By 2013, GOLD had sold over 5m and at that point was the 132nd best seller since SoundScan began recording sales.It was the 18th best selling Greatest Hits seller
Click on link Greatest Hits - GOLD on 5.2m sales
ABBA Gold Greatest Hits sales: RIAA v Soundscan
Universal Music (USA) has not asked for Gold Greatest Hits to be upgraded for certifications in 20 years! It is now eligible for a Diamond award for 10,000,000 sales. This is the fault of Universal Music not the RIAA.
Streaming equivalent sales are now counted for RIAA certifications.
|How many shipments (RIAA) or pure sales (soundscan) and when?||6,000,000 by 2002||6,300,000 by 2022|
|What is included?||Shipments - sales to retailers||Sales to Customers|
|What is NOT included?||Nothing||Music Club Sales, or initially sales to theatres and about half retailers|
|What were sales 1993-2002?||6,000,000||3,000,000. See exclusions above|
|What are sales since 2002?||3,300,000. Music Club sales gone||3,300,000. Covers all sales now|
|What are streaming equivalent sales?||1,650,000||1, 650,000|
|What are total sales plus streaming now?||10,950,000||7,950,000,with exclusions listed above|
ABBA GOLD has sold 884,000 through Music Club BMG. Other Music Clubs were available. These sales are counted for RIAA certifications - but NOT for Sound scan sales.
ABBA's US Record Company has NOT applied for the RIAA to update its sales for Gold-Greatest Hits since 2002!!!
|Take a Chance On Me||234,000|
Dancing Queen sales at August 2018. This is entitled to a platinum disc for 1 million digital sales but as we have seen with albums their American record company does not apply for these.
Take a Chance On Me and Mamma Mia as of 23/01/2009.....or as Americans say 01/23/2009!
From Billboard - Jan 2009
week on askbillboard:
"After "Mamma Mia!," the movie musical based on Abba's music, became a box office smash last summer, "Gold" captured the No. 1 spot on the Top Pop Catalog chart for the first time - in its mere 443rd combined week on the Billboard 200 and Catalog charts. It returns to the Catalog summit for a tenth non-consecutive week this week.
Since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking album sales in 1991, here are Abba's best-selling sets:
"Gold - Greatest Hits," 5,000,000
"The Best of Abba: 20th Century Masters the Millennium Collection," 1,090,000
"The Definitive Collection," 342,000
As for individual songs, Abba's top-selling downloads to date are "Dancing Queen" (597,000), "Take a Chance on Me" (234,000) and, logically enough, "Mamma Mia" (193,000)."
|2||Take a Chance On Me||#5|
|5||The Winner Takes it All||#11|
|6||Knowing Me Knowing You||#11|
|8||The Name of The Game||#16|
|9||Does Your Mother Know||#16|
|10||I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do||#19|
Based on Cashbox charts which were more sales based
In terms of sales the top two were million sellers. The next six likely to have sold over half a million or more.
The Winner Takes it All was a Top 10 on the Billboard chart but Fernando was not. Both were #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart Lay All Your Love on Me was #1 on the Billboard Disco/Dance chart.
Dancing Queen was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100
Take a Chance on Me reached #3 on the Billboard chart
Waterloo reached #6 in August 1974
The Winner Takes it All peaked at #8 on Bilbord's Hot 100
Top Selling Artists in USA (Albums)
1. The Beatles 183 million
2. Garth Brooks 157m
3. Elvis Presley 146.5
4. Eagles 120m
5. Led Zeppelin 112.5m
6. Michael Jackson 89m
7. Billy Joel 86m
8. Elton John 79m
9. AC/DC 75m
10. Pink Floyd 75m
NB - These are CERTIFIED sales for Gold, Platinum and Diamond awards. Please note double albums are awarded double units eh a double album selling 10m is awarded 20m sales.
ABBA's certified sales are just 10 million but real album sales over 20 million.