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Taylor Swift Closing in on Mariah Carey’s All-Time Sales Total

In the ever-evolving landscape of global album sales, where streaming equivalents now hold greater significance than physical sales, Taylor Swift remains unfazed by this paradigm shift. Her dedicated fanbase, known as the swifties, continue to support her relentlessly through purchases and streaming. While Taylor has already surpassed the all-time album sales of Whitney Houston, her sights are now set on Mariah Carey’s numbers. However, Mariah is struggling to create a substantial gap between herself and Taylor as the latter’s daily numbers climb at a rapid pace.


For numerous years, the forefront of the music industry has been graced by iconic female figures who have garnered global recognition. With extraordinary achievements such as worldwide album sales exceeding 100 million and continuing to rise, Madonna, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston have firmly established themselves as cornerstones in the realm of female music artists, their exceptional accomplishments setting them apart with a considerable lead over any potential contenders.


Top 4 Female Artists: ariah, Whitney, Celine, Madonna


Nevertheless, the landscape is undergoing a transformation: album sales have undergone a substantial decline and have now been recalibrated to reflect equivalent streaming metrics, with 1500 streams equating to a single physical album sale. While this might appear to be a daunting accomplishment at first glance, the global population has expanded significantly since the 1980s and 1990s, resulting in a considerable surge in accessibility to music. The widespread adoption of multiple streaming platforms across the globe has made music consumption a mainstream activity for an ever-growing number of users.

One of the standout female artists who has garnered a massive fanbase and capitalized on album sales and streaming metrics is none other than Taylor Swift. Riding high on her peak of popularity, Swift sets herself apart from the unattainable divas of yore by consistently witnessing a remarkable surge in daily sales and streaming numbers. According to a thorough analysis of global sales by chartmasters, Taylor Swift has already outpaced the worldwide equivalent album sales of the legendary Whitney Houston, who currently boasts an impressive reported tally of 158 million copies “sold”. The next notable female artist in line is Mariah Carey, even though there is still some ground to cover. Let’s delve into this imminent transition that’s on the horizon and take a closer look at what lies ahead.

Taylor Swift RIAA awards


The Taylor Swift Album Sales Count

Let’s kick things off by taking a closer look at Taylor Swift’s equivalent album sales, given that there’s more recent information available. The most recent comprehensive analysis conducted by dates back to just three months ago. While her streaming figures are up-to-date thanks to the readily available metrics from platforms like Spotify and YouTube, estimates for streaming on other platforms like Apple Music and Tidal rely on historical performance and will be fine-tuned in the next comprehensive assessment. However, there’s ample historical data to enable accurate estimations with minimal room for error. Keeping this in view, as of the time of writing this article, Taylor Swift has tallied a remarkable 164 million equivalent albums globally, a milestone that places her ahead of iconic acts like ABBA—an impressive accomplishment in its own right.

Even in the face of declining physical sales on a global scale, Taylor Swift manages to keep the old-school music-buying tradition alive with her devoted fanbase, the swifties. They enthusiastically embrace vinyl records and snap up special edition physical copies at a pace that sets her apart from her peers, a trend clearly evident in her recent “accounting”. This phenomenon explains the swift momentum with which she breezed past the impressive 100 million mark, and she’s steadfastly making her way toward the ranks of the untouchable four divas (with Whitney Houston already behind her). However, it’s her staggering streaming numbers that truly steal the spotlight—she rakes in a whopping 98 million daily streams on Spotify alone which gives her an equivalent album sale averaging of around 140 thousand daily (excluding physical sales), totalling to date 164 million album sales worldwide.

Mariah Carey receives Diamond award for All I want for Christmas is you


The Mariah Carey Album Sales Count

Taking a look into the depths of Mariah Carey’s sales analysis, the diligent folks over at chartmasters last took a deep dive into this realm back in 2017. While this may not impact her daily streaming figures, which are meticulously tracked and added daily, it does mean we’re missing out on a span of six years’ worth of physical sales data (we’ll dig into that a bit later). However, streaming-wise, Mariah gracefully holds an impressive average of 3.7 million daily streams on Spotify (minus the Christmas era), and the beats keep grooving with an additional 1.8 million streams on YouTube over 30 years since her debut which makes her the largest streamer out of the fabulous four divas. Now, for the platforms where daily data doesn’t flow as easily, a bit of extrapolation magic comes into play just like with other artists, following the same 1500-to-1 rule. Therefore July and August of 2023 reveal a steady 5-6 thousand daily equivalent album sales for Mariah, still a far cry from Swift’s formidable 140 thousand daily.

The comprehensive analysis conducted in 2017, which meticulously gathered album sales data from various sources across the globe and later incorporated digital downloads, coupled with Mariah’s ongoing daily streaming prowess, brings her cumulative album equivalent sales to an astonishing 179 million as of today. While some sources may assert her worldwide sales to be around 200 million units, we wholeheartedly acknowledge the validity of this claim—units, not albums. A closer inspection reveals that, out of these 200 million units, 50 million are digital single downloads, while 36 million stem from physical single sales. It’s akin to comparing apples and oranges, and thus, chartmasters took the liberty to recalibrate these figures into equivalent album sales using the trusted Billboard / RIAA methodology. In this conversion, 10 digital song downloads equate to 1 album sale, and 3 physical single purchases similarly count as 1 album sale (with minor variations according to single length / EP). This meticulous approach brings us to the current figure of 179 million—a number that continues to flourish at a daily pace of 5-6 thousand.

Scene from All I Want For Christmas is you


Mariah’s missing sales data

Absolutely remarkable as this number is, propelling Mariah into the esteemed rank of the world’s third best-selling female artist ever, we should bear in mind that this awe-inspiring feat is grounded in physical sales data until 2017. While many assert that her more recent physical sales might not drastically reshape this grand total, we firmly believe that the unfolding of the past six years, regrettably missing from this calculation, could wield enough influence to create a noticeable impact and facilitate a more even-handed comparison between Mariah and Taylor. Now, let’s take a cheerful stroll through some of these captivating events:

  • “All I Want for Christmas Is You” Impact:
    • Since 2017, Mariah’s hit climbed into the top 10, securing five consecutive years as a number one hit.
    • Notably, it holds the record for the most streams on Spotify in a single day.
    • Apart from streaming numbers, annual reports indicate pure digital download sales of 85,000-100,000 copies yearly.
    • Conservatively estimating, this equates to 510,000 downloads over six years, or 51,000 album-equivalent sales.
  • 25th Anniversary Celebration:
    • In 2019, Merry Christmas marked its 25th anniversary.
    • To celebrate, Mariah released four physical single formats of “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”
    • The formats included: vinyl single, CD single, red cassette, and green cassette.
    • Each format had a reported 5,000-unit stock globally.
    • The swift sell-out suggests approximately 20,000 total sales across the formats.
    • Applying the physical single calculation, this translates to around 6,666 equivalent album sales.
    • There was an additional Mariah signed CD single promo, but numbers are unavailable.
  • Deluxe Anniversary Edition:
    • Also in 2019, Mariah re-released the album “Merry Christmas” in a Deluxe Anniversary Edition.
    • Considering the average required sales / downloads required to top the charts on Amazon and iTunes, and the chart history of this album since 2019, we have a very low estimate of 17000 (the average itunes top 3 album download per day is currently 1215)
    • The result: a very low-key estimated 17000 albums sold based on the album’s chart positions in the past 4 years and the average sales required for those positions.
  • #MC30 Celebrates a Milestone Career:
    • In 2020, Mariah launched #MC30, a celebration of her 30-year career.
    • She re-released single B-sides and remixes on streaming platforms and introduced her complete discography in vinyl format on her website.
    • Each album had a promised stock of 5,000 units.
    • Additional exclusive color vinyl versions were offered on websites like Urban Outfitters and Amazon, all with 5,000-unit limited supplies.
    • Despite some normal vinyl copies still available on her official online store, approximately 18 sold-out vinyl versions can be conservatively estimated.
    • This special release contributed an estimated 90,000 physical album sales, buoyed by fans’ enthusiasm (including our personal purchase of 9 albums).
Mariah Carey and Justice for Glitter


  • #JusticeforGlitter and Album Resurgence:
    • In November 2018, the #JusticeforGlitter campaign propelled the long-forgotten album to number one on the iTunes store.
    • Despite the excitement of having an album at number one on iTunes, it actually doesn’t take many downloads to achieve this with the decrease in digital downloads.
    • Digital downloads for Glitter album during the number one reign were 2,141 copies on November 14th and 1,574 copies the following day, averaging 100-200 daily for the rest of the week.
    • With minor two-digit sales in the preceding and subsequent weeks, we can conservatively account for 4,215 album sales during that pivotal week.
  • #JusticeforEMC2 and Modest Resurgence:
    • A less spectacular outcome was witnessed in the #JusticeforEMC2 campaign, propelling the album to number one on the same platform in April 2020, with peak sales of 900 copies.
  • “Caution” and Solid Debut:
    • Mariah’s album “Caution,” released in 2018, secured 43,000 pure album sales in the US during its debut week.
    • While comprehensive worldwide physical sales data remains challenging, various credible reports suggest approximately 250,000 physical copies sold globally to date.
    • This includes applying the digital song download formula for single releases like “GTFO,” “With You,” and “A No No.”
Here we go around again promotional cassette Mariah Carey
  • “The Rarities” and Unique Cassette Release:
    • Mariah’s album “The Rarities,” released in 2020, lacks widely available data for worldwide physical sales beyond 30,000 copies.
    • Notably, a promotional “Here We Go Around Again” cassette was released in a limited supply of 5,000 units, contributing 1,666 album-equivalent sales to Mariah’s impressive tally.

These represent only a selection of the significant milestones in Mariah Carey’s journey of estimated physical sales since 2017 and by no means are an in-depth investigation of actual total numbers worldwide. Remarkably, these events on their own collectively contribute an additional 439,447 album-equivalent sales, a figure not yet accounted for in her previously mentioned global tally. However, it’s important to note that this sum likely underestimates the true impact, as a comprehensive and detailed examination of individual album sales over the past six years would likely yield a higher total. An intriguing possibility emerges when all these diverse sources are aggregated, potentially revealing even more substantial figures. For instance, a visit to Amazon provides striking evidence of continuous sales: “#1’s to Infinity” garnered over 100 sales in the past month according to the website, while “Daydream” and “Butterfly” each saw over 50 purchases within the same timeframe. Such active engagement is a testament to the ongoing enthusiasm surrounding Mariah Carey’s music worldwide, pointing toward a cumulative surge that warrants a fairer comparison with Taylor’s updated 2023 sales count. Nevertheless, as of the present writing, we maintain a realistic outlook. While undoubtedly impactful, we acknowledge that any change in the tens of millions is unlikely otherwise we would have seen significant chart fluctuations besides the usual Christmas frenzy.

Mariah Carey That's life


So when will Taylor probably outsell Mariah?

In the absence of comprehensive updates on physical sales, our attention turns to the daily streams on Spotify and YouTube, which drive the equivalent album sales for both Taylor Swift and Mariah Carey. With Taylor maintaining her robust daily average of 140,000 equivalent album sales globally, and Mariah maintaining her steady 6,000 average, a projection emerges. We could reasonably anticipate Taylor surpassing Mariah’s third position as one of the best-selling female artists around mid-December, approximately 98 days from now. However, historical trends indicate that Mariah’s streaming figures usually experience a substantial boost from October onward, suggesting that Taylor might encounter challenges in overtaking her until January 2024, when inevitability is firmly on the horizon. Unless, of course, a miraculous turn of events leads to a massive reduction in Swifties’ streaming activity. While we celebrate Taylor’s remarkable achievement, recognizing that reaching such milestones in today’s music landscape is both rare and demanding, it’s difficult not to feel a pang of sentiment as Mariah’s global ranking as the third-highest female album seller is potentially eclipsed. Though the fourth place is by no means a diminishment, and Mariah’s 179 million album sales remain awe-inspiring, our hearts hold a steadfast conviction: Mariah is forever number one, regardless of any numerical shifts. Until then, we’ll just keep streaming.

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