The unexpected and sudden death of Prince sparked a huge surge in sales of the artist’s catalog as three of his albums landed in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 in the hours following his April 21st death.
The Very Best of Prince was the solace of choice for fans as the greatest hits compilation sold 179,000 total copies in the hours after Prince’s death; of that total, 100,000 were traditional album sales, while the rest came from bulk purchases of some of Prince’s classic singles. The Very Best of Prince‘s ascension to the Number One spot marked Prince’s first chart-topper since his 3121 hit the top spot in 2006, and the fifth Number One album of his career.
Right behind the Best Of collection was Prince’s 1984 masterpiece Purple Rain, which ended the week at Number Two and 69,000 copies. As Billboard notes, Prince became the first artist since Nelly’s Sweat and Suit in 2004 to simultaneously capture Number One and Number Two on the Billboard 200 in the same week. Prince landed one more album in the Top 10, The Hits/The B-Sides at Number Six.
Prince’s death came just a half-day before the Billboard 200’s weekly sales cutoff, meaning all of the sales of The Very Best of Prince, Purple Rain and The Hits/The B-Sides were recorded in the roughly 12 hours following his death; the exact number of Prince albums sold following his death is expected to be much larger and will carry over into next week’s Billboard 200. In total, his catalog sold 256,000 copies in that limited April 21st window.
Prince’s sales were also boosted in large part by the artist’s decade-long, ever-vigilante attempts to keep his music off both streaming services and YouTube; Tidal is the only one of the major streaming services to lay claim to the Prince discography.
As casual fans sought Prince’s music to mourn his passing, they were faced with either purchasing the albums – physically or digitally – or signing up for Tidal, who do not share information regarding how many new subscribers they enrolled following Prince’s death/release of Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
Elsewhere on the Top 10, Sturgill Simpson’s Sailor’s Guide to Earth entered the Billboard 200 at Number Three with 55,000 total copies sold (both new highs for the singer-songwriter). Rihanna’s Anti claimed Number Four while Santana’s new LP Santana IV debuted at Number Five, Billboard reports.
Next week, the Number One spot will be fought between Prince’s catalog and the digital-only arrival of Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
Watch Prince’s incredible ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ solo at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.