The King's Sales Shot To Pieces -

"The King Has Lost His Crown!" (Elvis Lacks Credibility)

By: Nigel Patterson, March 18, 2002

If Elvis has sold more than 1 billion records and CDs, then why is Garth Brooks the biggest selling solo album artist in US recording history?

BMG has spun its sugar coated rhetoric on Elvis' sales for almost a decade yet has been unable to support its claims!

It's time Elvis fans woke up to the reality that Elvis is not and never will be the best selling recording artist.

Sales of contemporary releases by The Beatles easily surpass Elvis', with Beatles albums making the top 10 if not the number one spot. When was the last time Elvis cracked even the US Top 50?

BMG counter this by claiming that Elvis accumulates greater sales due to the much larger volume of Elvis titles released - however, this argument fails serious analysis! Ernst Jorgensen's informative book Elvis Day By Day reveals the true picture behind sales of Elvis albums during his lifetime. Most only sold several hundred of thousand copies.

The fact that in only 10 years, Garth Brooks has achieved sales of 100 million albums in the US totally overshadows Elvis' achievements (see Appendix). Even in death, a cursory look at the RIAA stats reveals sales of many Beatles albums well over 10 million while most Elvis albums come in at between 1 and 2 million.

The RIAA stats are telling. Even after factoring in 'lost' certifications and sales due to poor record keeping on the part of RCA (not BMG), Elvis' sales at around 200 million are still substantially below the 600 million sales claimed for North America. Updates in RIAA certifications last month realised a staggering additional 40 million units for The Beatles and almost 16 million units for Led Zeppelin. Elvis trailed with an increase of less than 9 million units.

Regular watchers of RIAA stats realise that with the exception of two occasions when BMG made an effort to improve Elvis' certification level, other artists have been increasing or gaining on his position. Elvis was a big seller of singles at a time when singles were King.

However, the buying habits of subsequent generations dramatically changed from the mid 60s on, and Elvis never had and probably never will have a credibility to generate consistent 'critical mass' sales with the general buying public beyond TV promoted greatest hits packages. Exemplary releases such as the 2CD 'Suspicious Minds' (1969 American Studios Sessions) and the Essential Elvis series simply don't register with the general public!

The harsh reality of this is that many more consumers are interested in buying a Beatles album than an Elvis album. The same applies to Garth versus Elvis. The King has lost his crown! And the burning question is...did he ever really wear it or was it just in the minds of 'his' zealous fans and a record company keen on fueling a money spinning myth? Do Elvis' fans care? If they do they will lobby BMG 'en masse'. If they don't, they can no longer take the easy way out and hide behind unsubstantiated, fallacious rhetoric!

Consider the following official RIAA media release:

Gold, Platinum And Diamonds: Think you know your music? Who's the top certified group of the 20th century?

The Beatles are the most successful recording act with sales of more than 106 million albums-and that's just in the U.S.!

What about the top solo artist? Nope, not Elvis. Garth Brooks has sold 89 million albums and his sales are climbing. Elton John is second, then Billy Joel, then Barbara Streisand, and then Elvis.

RIAA congratulates Garth Brooks as the Best Selling Solo Artist in American History Nashville, October 26, 2000

Hilary Rosen, president and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) issued the following statement to commemorate Garth Brooks becoming the first solo artist to sell more than one hundred million albums.

Capitol Records and the RIAA held a ceremony this evening in Nashville to officially recognize Brooks' achievements and celebrate his remarkable career.

"On July 31, 1990, Capitol Nashville called our offices to request that an album by one of their artists, a newcomer named Garth Brooks, be certified Gold. They were very excited. After all, selling 500,000 records is a remarkable achievement.

"A gold record or two caps off what should be considered a very successful career for many artists. And the buzz surrounding Capitol's latest face back in 1990 was that he may even have what it takes to go platinum. He did them one hundred better. Over the next 10 years, Garth Brooks would achieve milestones and set records that will likely never be broken.

"He has quite literally set a new standard for the music industry. Garth is the only solo artist with four RIAA Diamond awards which are presented to artists who have sold 10 million copies or more of an individual album. Of the top 10 best selling country albums in history, five of them are his. His 'Double Live' album is tied with Bruce Springsteen as the best selling live album in music history.

"He is the top-selling artist of the 90's and the fastest selling artist in music history. "Garth has done what no solo artist has been able to accomplish. It can be summarized easily.

"One artist. One decade. 100 million albums. And I see no end in sight to this success. His music knows no boundaries, as it is enjoyed by fans of all ages and backgrounds. I am proud to be part of this evenings' events and am proud recognize Garth Brooks as the best selling solo artist in music history."

RIAA Top Selling Artists (27 Oct 2000) Certified Units (in millions)
1. The Beatles, 151.50
2. Led Zeppelin, 100.5
3. Garth Brooks, 100.00
4. Elvis Presley, 86.5
5. Billy Joel, 75.50
6. Pink Floyd, 68.50
7. Barbra Streisand, 66.00
8. Eagles, 65.00
9. Elton John, 63.00
10. Madonna, 57.00

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