David Kronemyer

David Kronemyer

Mr. David Kronemyer started his career in the music business playing 12-string electric guitar in a folk rock band. Lacking sufficient talent to continue as a performer he began to manage bands and promote shows. He formerly was Vice President of Capitol Records and Senior Vice President of Atlantic Records. Segueing to the movie business he became President of Gold Circle Films and then President of Cerberus Films. He currently is producing records and directing independent movies, none of which have much commercial potential.

22 Comments

  1. Steven Silber
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 1:38 PM PDT

    Very interesting and impressive calculations, but it would have been much more enlightening if some sort of global results from EMI were also noted or measured against U.S. sales. Also, the year 1964 is used as a starting point. Weren’t the Beatles’ first two albums released in 1963? I’m almost certain that “Meet the Beatles” the U.S. Capitol version of the U.K. release “With the Beatles” came out that year.

  2. Tony
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 4:44 PM PDT

    If the Beatles have sold a lot less than the 1 biollion that is normally quoted, then Michael Jackson must also have sold a lot less than 750 million. There is no way Jackson has sold over 500 million more units than the Beatles. Which means I find this article hard to believe.

  3. Malek
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 5:04 PM PDT

    Steven, the Beatles albums weren’t released until 1964 in America.

    Tony, the oft quoted billion figure is for worldwide sales of albums *and* single records. This article is limited to album sales in America.

  4. David
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 6:56 PM PDT

    (response from the author of this article)

    Thanks for the comments! … Steven – I would like to have expanded the article to global EMI sales but I simply don’t have the data. Also, 1964 is the first year for which I have data, I think Malek is right on this point re: when they were released. Malek – you’re also right, this is albums only, there probably were kajillions of singles. The scandalous issue with the singles is that they were accounted for at a miserably low pennies rate, and tens of thousands of them simply were given away as free goods to support sales by other artists, which was one of the key issues in various Beatles lawsuits that I hope to detail in another post.

  5. John
    May 1, 2009 @ 6:00 AM PDT

    Nice article.

    Worldwide The Beatles sold over 250 million records in their recording lifetime – between 1962-1970.

    EMI now estimate vinyl records and CD sales to be over 1 Billion.

  6. Kevin Wallace
    May 1, 2009 @ 10:17 PM PDT

    The 1 billion that is oft quoted is calculated by units.
    1 album = 4 units
    1 EP = 2 units
    1 single = 1 unit

    They have probably sold approx 350 million albums worldwide which would equate to 1 billion plus and then add the EPs and singles.

    Over time the 1 billion units has become 1 billion records – chinese whispers!

  7. Jay
    May 4, 2009 @ 3:39 AM PDT

    Introducing the Beatles, released by VeeJay in 1963 in the US, flopped. It was re-released after Beatlemania hit in early 1964.

  8. Bob Tuckett
    May 4, 2009 @ 9:59 AM PDT

    I agree with Kevin Wallace except an album is 6 units. So the Beatles have sold well over a billion units and are the biggest selling artists of all time.

    According to the 1971 Guinness Book of Records the Beatles worldwide sales between February 1963 and September 1970 were 133 million (74 million singles, 3 millions E.P.s and 56 million albums) which represents 416 million in singles’ equivalents.

    74 x 1 = 74
    3 x 2 = 6
    56 x 6 = 336

    Total = 416 million

  9. David Kronemyer
    May 5, 2009 @ 5:38 PM PDT

    Jay – as mentioned, the calculations I made exclude the VeeJay releases. Kevin, Bob – While I’ve heard of it, I am skeptical of calculations in terms of units using the formula you indicated because it seems arbitrary and lacks empirical support. John – one billion is a suspiciously round number. It reminds me of the old sign on McDonald’s how they had sold a billion hamburgers (later replaced with billions and billions). I always wondered if they had an official corporate office of hamburger counting. Thanks for your comments!

  10. Bob Tuckett
    May 6, 2009 @ 12:03 PM PDT

    David,

    I do not think any recording artist has sold a billion albums worldwide – it is an impossibility if you look at the market size.
    According to the RIAA the Beatles have sold 170 million albums in the US. The next biggest selling is Garth Brooks with 128 million, then Elvis Presley with 119 million and then Led Zeppelin with 111.5
    million. As you have inside knowledge I am sure your figures for the Beatles from 1964-1985 are accurate, and the Soundscan figure of 57 million from 1991 is accurate. The figures from 1986-1990 may be debateable as the Beatles albums were released on CD in about 1987 so I would think the Beatles sold many millions in this period but I may be wrong.

    From my understanding EMI have stated that the Beatles album sales in the US represent 40% of their world wide sales. This would give the Beatles world wide sales of approximately 425 million albums. This would be many more than any other recording artist.

    According to the 1980 Guiness Book of Records “by the end of 1978 the Beatles had sold 100 million singles and 100 million albums – more than any other recording act.”

    The sales of the Rolling Stones would pale by comparison. No other reording act is in the same ball park as the Beatles when it comes to record sales. The billion plus record sales quoted by record companies for the Beatles and Elvis Presley are not album sales but singles equivalents. From what RCA and BMG have said that Presley’s US sales are 50% of his world wide sales then Presley has sold about 240 million albums world wide.

  11. chris conley
    May 16, 2009 @ 11:16 PM PDT

    if you take into account albums,ep’s,singles,8 track ,cassette,cd,etc (worldwide)the beatles are now over 2 billion.a number that will grow even larger after9/9/09

  12. Kevin Wallace
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 3:08 PM PDT

    Hi David – Do you happen to have the same sales info for the Beatles singles – it would be sensational if you had!

  13. Peter Ybarrondo
    Jun 29, 2009 @ 8:40 AM PDT

    I would suspect that the low number between 1986 – 1990 is just an estimate of the capitol records sales. I doubt very much that this number included any of the EMI CD releases which included all 13 studio albums and the 2 past masters discs. Using your figures of 7.5 million sales in this 5 year period would equate to each CD selling only 100,000 copies per year. That equates to only 2000 copies of each disc being sold every year in each of the 50 states during the initial CD release period of the greatest band on earth. I have to believe that this fuzzy math is just another example of Capitol/EMI greatly understating the sales to avoid paying the royalties due. I suspect that if we were ever to get the truth as to how many albums were really sold, Capitol/EMI would be owned by The Beatles and their heirs after the lawsuits were settled.

  14. Peter Ybarrondo
    Jun 29, 2009 @ 9:10 AM PDT

    David,
    I’ll add just a couple of other points. It was my understanding that when soundscan was first used, it was only keeping track of sales in the large retail outlets and the small retailers sales were not tracked. I will not swear by that, but it was what I had read when it first came out and verified this from one of our local record shops. Your article however was probably one of the most informative I have read.

  15. Marvin Beatle
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 4:14 PM PDT

    I appreciate this article but I must point out that your numbers are actually missing a lot of The Beatles sales.

    Here are some of the most glaring examples:

    1. A Hard Day’s Night is not included (not until 1979.)
    2. Let It Be is not included (not until 1979.)
    3. As Peter mentioned the EMI CDs are not included in your estimate of 86-90. There’s no way they only sold 1.5 million per year during that time period. Remember their albums were released on CD for the first time in 1987.

  16. Jason
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 5:54 AM PDT

    I don’t know why he wasted his time writing this article because the RIAA has the Beatles’ soundscan sales listed on their website and it’s not even close to 136 million, it’s over 186 million records.

  17. Chris
    Sep 25, 2009 @ 7:17 PM PDT

    I assume this list is the actual number of albums sold whether they were double albums or not. The RIAA counts each disc in a multiple album set. For example, The White Album has actually sold 9.5 million copies but the RIAA has certified it as having sold 19 million. They have done the same for the Red and Blue lps and The Anthology and BBC sets. This is why the RIAA amount is different.

  18. Peter
    Feb 16, 2010 @ 8:35 AM PDT

    Actually the White Album, 1962-1966, 1967-1970 do not meet the requirements for multi-disc sales because they do not total the minimum requirement of 100 minutes of music. Each of these album sales are for one unit and one unit only. Had they lasted over 100 minutes, then each album would have counted as two unit sales. Since they do not meet the minimum time requirement, each album is considered as 1 unit. The 19 million for the White Album is really 19 million, not 9.5 million. It should be noted too that the RIAA has not updated most Beatles sales since 2001 (1998 in the case of Sgt. Peppers). Elvs fans like to try and say that the White Album only sold 9.5 million, but they fail to take into account the minimum time requirements for a multi-disc album which none of the Beatles albums I have mentioned meet, and therefore each sale of these albums only counts as one unit, not two.

  19. Bernhard
    May 4, 2011 @ 5:16 PM PDT

    The White Album, 1962-1966, 1967-1970 meet the requirements for multi-disc sales because they were first released on vinyl and therefore the minimum requirement of 100 minutes do not apply.

  20. Miguel
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 3:51 AM PDT

    If Beatles sales of albums, EP’s and singles are converted into “UNIT” counts,

    does this mean that Michael Jackson’s album Thriller with 110M sales should be converted to units as well?

    100m albums sales x 6 units = 600 million units!!!

    How about Elvis’ sales? Were they converted to UNITS as well which explains the claim of 1 billion sales?

    If we compare sales of Beatles, Elvis and Michael side by side – all should be converted to UNITS then!

  21. David Kronemyer
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 1:38 PM PDT

    Miguel – thank you for your interesting comments – but please read the qualifiers to the original article – in particular, I do not understand the usefulness of the conversion to “units,” particularly since that’s not what the article was about. Best, DAVID

  22. Miguel
    Aug 27, 2011 @ 12:39 AM PDT

    Hi David,

    My apologies, my message was supposed to be a reply to the previous comment here of of “Kevin Wallace”. I will direct my post as a reply to his comment.

    Thank you!