Why Michael Jackson’s Thriller Will Forever be the Universe’s Best-Selling Album

Since Thriller was released on November 30, 1982, it has sold somewhere beyond 65 million copies and perhaps as high as 100 million. This will never, ever be beaten. You can wait until the sun turns into a red giant and devours the inner planets and Thriller will still be the biggest-selling album in this part of the Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way.

This is a sure thing. Business2Business explains why with some handy charts. First, let’s take a look at the reality of album sales. They’ve been falling rapidly for more than a decade now. Instead, we’re buying (and increasingly, streaming) individual tracks. The world will never buy albums in the quantities it once did.

Here’s a slightly different take on the same thing.

Now let’s follow the money.

Any hope for the album here? Nope. And to underscore the dire state of album sales, let’s look at this chart.

One other thing to consider: Thriller came along at the exact moment the compact disc was introduced. It more than any other album hitched a ride to that new format, helping to send sales into the stratosphere.

It’s math, people. Thriller will always and forevermore be #1.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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