Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: When I read recently that digital books are now out-selling printed ones, at least according to, it got me wondering if the same is true in the music field.

It seems all we hear now is “go online and download” this or that, but no one ever says go out and pick up our new CD or LP album.

What is the latest in this regard?
—Victor Francisco, Muncie, Ind.

DEAR VICTOR: The lines on the sales graph for physical media — CDs, LPs, and DVDs — and their digital counterparts, are clearly moving in opposite directions. It is no different than with books.

By the end of this year, if not sooner, digital revenues will have surpassed those of physical media in all categories.

I doubt CDs, LPs, and DVDs will be occupying plots next to cylinders, 8-tracks, and cassettes any time soon, but, over the next few years, they may be moved to the ICU.

Convenience and price are the driving forces behind the digital takeover. For a buck or less, one can download an album or watch a movie, all without leaving home, or even getting dressed.

Digital technology also satisfies the appetite for instant gratification. Minutes after a performance airs live on TV, for example, you'll be given a site where you can download it, a far more effective sales tool than saying pick up a copy the next time you go shopping.

DEAR JERRY: Donna Summer has been in the news a lot since her death (May 17), but little has been said about her place among the top female singers, some of whom you have written about recently (Streisand; Norah; Adele; Shania; Madonna; etc.).

How do the Disco Queen's album sales compare to the aforementioned leaders of the pack?
—Denice Marlowe, Baton Rouge, La.

DEAR DENICE: Donna is not among the superstar frontrunners (see list below), but neither is she bringing up the rear.

Sources vary, depending on endless variables, but Summer always seems to rank somewhere in the Top 20 when it comes to the most successful female recording artists.

Donna will ultimately be pushed down on the list as the 21st century divas, mainly Adele and Norah, jump ahead of her.

There is one eccentric little claim that Donna Summer is assured of keeping all to herself. She is the only artist ever with three consecutive No. 1 double-LPs in the USA, those being: “Live and More” (1978); “Bad Girls” (1979); and “On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II” (1979).

IZ ZAT SO? When worldwide sales of an album cross the 20-million mark, it joins a very exclusive club of all-time best-sellers.

For now, this society's sorority wing has only 14 members, some with multiple entries.

Our list is alphabetical by artist, with album (chronologically if more than one), year issued, and sales to date (rounded to nearest million). Does not include multi-artist compilations or soundtracks:

*Adele “21” (2011) 21m
*Mariah Carey “Music Box” (1993) 32m
*Mariah Carey “Daydream” (1995) 25m
Cher “Believe” (1998) 20m
Celine Dion “The Colour of My Love” (1993) 20m
*Celine Dion “Falling Into You” (1996) 32m
*Celine Dion “Let's Talk About Love” (1997) 31m
Whitney Houston “Whitney” (1987) 20m
*Whitney Houston “Whitney Houston” (1985) 25m
Janet Jackson “Janet” (1993) 20m
*Norah Jones “Come Away with Me” (2002) 20m
*Carole King “Tapestry” (1971) 25m
*Madonna “Like a Virgin” (1984) 21m
Madonna “True Blue” (1986) 25m
*Madonna “The Immaculate Collection” (1990) 30m
Madonna “Ray of Light” (1998) 20m
*Alanis Morissette “Jagged Little Pill” (1995) 33m
*Britney Spears “Baby One More Time” (1999) 26m
*Britney Spears “Oops! ... I Did It Again” (2000) 20m
Barbra Streisand “Guilty” (1980) 20m
Tina Turner “Private Dancer” (1984) 20m
*Shania Twain “The Woman in Me” (1995) 20m
*Shania Twain “Come on Over” (1997) 40m
*Shania Twain “Up!” (2002) 20m

*Indicates at least 10-million units sold in the U.S. alone.

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