The best-selling artist of 2016 was a ghost. Beating out perennial contenders like Adele and Beyonce, Prince was the best-selling musician of the year (thanks in large part to a massive spike in sales after his untimely death).
According to Nielsen Music (via Yahoo), The Purple One sold 7.7 million albums in the last year. Those sales were scattered across his massive discography with 2.3 million of that number coming from traditional album sales and another 5.4 million coming from digital song downloads and equivalent album units.
The three top-selling albums were to be expected: a greatest hits collection and his two largest commercial successes: The Very Best Of Prince sold 668,000 copies, followed by Purple Rain (498,000) and 1999 (169,000).
Almost all of the sales of Prince came in the month after his death. 5.6 million of Prince’s total sales happened between April 21 and May 19 of last year.
In the wake of Prince’s passing, attempts to mine his famous vault of unreleased material for new releases has enticed record labels. However, the first attempt at a release from these recordings has already been bogged down in court.
For labels hoping to cash in on Prince, they’re just going to have to hope that fans keep coming back for the old stuff, for the time being.