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Elvis and the RIAA

Tue May 13, 2003 6:02 am

Its been 45 years since the RIAA first set up shop.In the years
since then many strange things have happened in the music world,
perhaps none stranger than the disapearence of Elvis Presleys' sales
figures.
Or have they really disappeared?
I have read that the RIAA would not recognize many of Elvis'
retail sales from the 50s and early 60s because of the price,
dollars in those days apparently not high enough to qualify them.
This is confusing to say the least,and sometimes it seems as
if they are determined that Elvis not get his due.
Now there was a rumor not long ago on the VH1 messageboard
that the RIAA was doing a massive audit of ALL recording acts,of
all the sales to get a truer picture.Who knows?What I would
like to see is something along the lines of a "Total Sales Award",
that would also count the sales of LPs that hadnt earned any award.
What do all my freinds here think?

Tue May 13, 2003 6:12 am

I think they have F..ed Elvis over time and time again. The last update actually had Elvis going down in sales?!?! I thought for sure E1 was going to put Elvis in at least 3rd place, instead he goes farther down...weird!

Tue May 13, 2003 8:46 am

I think that a total LP sales award is an excellent idea.

Also some form of weighting so that sales in, say, 1957 could be compared to sales in 2003. EG would Loving You beat Shania Twain's UP!

While we can bag the RIAA over many things - they are not responsible for sales data - that has to come from RCA.

RCA are not as stupid as they seem, They will have many references to sales figures in their vaults and there can be only two possiblities.

A- The figures they have given to RIAA are correct.

B - The figures were understated to deprive royalties. A common habit with small labels.

I would discount the latter - not only do we have the wily Col Parker looking over the RCA shoulder but very keen interest would have been taken at the time by publishing houses and writers. Leiber & Stoller were and still are very strict about what's due to them.

The problem has been with RCA over-inflating sales to manufacture press releases. This has led to our expectations of greater sales to that which were ultimately audited.

The sad thing is that even without the hype Elvis would have had little competition in terms of sales from his fellow artists.

We must remember that sales of 200,000 in the 50's would have been considered huge - and probably equate to many millions today.

In so far as "RIAA" not counting sales because the LP sold too cheaply - I don't buy this at all. The only "cheap" releases were the Camden ones - and many Camden from other artists gained gold awards. The criteria was along the lines that the wholesale sales must reach $1,000,000 to win gold - so a "cheap" LP would have to generate more sales.

The RIAA does not have a vested interest in putting down Elvis sales - quite the opposite one would have thought. After all they exist to promote sales and don't forget that RCA is one of their biggest "owners".

However a basic fault they have is that sales are counted as they leave the factory floor - and does not actually count retail sales - even if the LP bombed to high heaven.

Tue May 13, 2003 12:35 pm

jb -

The machinations of the RIAA have long been a puzzle.

Unfortunately, RCA didn't bother too much with them in the early days, preferring instead to issue their own 'Gold' record awards.

They maximised these awards by giving a separate 'gold record' for each side of single, with some pretty obscure 'B' sides getting certified gold.

After the BMG buy-out, they have actively pursued RIAA certifications, but this has come so late that many RCA sales records are apparently incomplete/missing.

To have 'lost' all Elvis' sales documentation for the year 1977 seems unbelievable !

We all know that Elvis' total sales are huge, probably the biggest of any artist or group, but not by the RIAA rules.

Perhaps one day this will all be sorted out - but don't hold your breath !

Colin B

RIAA

Tue May 13, 2003 11:36 pm

Thinking about it, it's hard to believe that records haven't been counted!
But, then again, if files were correct towards the RIAA, then how would our dear col. be able to get off with what he did!
The col. knew the tallies, but he was in office and "took care of b..."
for his own good!
Record sales are the fishiest business regarding Elvis! When you see the amount of records released, there can't be any doubt that he must really be the greatest, also saleswise!
Simply check out RIAA's database and see the sales of all the "GREATEST HITS" compilations that have received awards from RIAA.
Then think about ELVIS' GOLDEN RECORDS (VOL 1) not even close to what he must have made!
Then check all the rare titles receiving gold and even platinum, and it took years and ages to finally make ELVIS IS BACK a gold album!!??

Wed May 14, 2003 3:26 am

I don't think that Col Parker made anything off of Elvis Royalties. He had a very crooked business deal with RCA, in which he probably got paid under the table. Look at the way he made more money than Elvis did after they sold the rights to his recordings in 1973. I wouldn't trust Parker to make sure Elvis got his share.

For KIWIALAN

Wed May 14, 2003 6:00 am

Kiwialan, I disagree completely. Many of Elvis albums have been under 3 bucks. That is how Garth Brooks really screwed the system with his box set. All priced a little over 3 dollars and thus generating sales of 6 albums per set!!!

Not to say that Camden can't be counted. Here is the best way to describe this. From Elvis Presley Graceland

"Background: The RIAA is the official body to which record companies report record sales figures and request the awarding of gold and platinum records to their artists for American sales achievements. The RIAA came into existence in 1958. Elvis had many gold records before that time that were awarded in-house from his record company, RCA. However, RCA, for the most part, did not request retroactive RIAA certification of these pre-RIAA record sales achievements. Also, over the years, they did not often request additional certification when the records went gold again, or request retroactive platinum certifications when the platinum status was created in the 1970's. Therefore, in Elvis' lifetime he did not get all of the gold and platinum certifications he was due, and in the years following his death the award certifications became even more badly outdated. Some time after BMG bought RCA Records, the new administration decided to go back and make it right. But, pre-computer-age files on Elvis’ sales were mis-filed, incomplete, lost, and scattered. It happened that in 1990 Graceland had acquired the lifetime collection of files, photography, and memorabilia of Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’ long-time career manager. Colonel’s files were more complete and were well-organized. In early 1992, RCA and Graceland worked together to bring auditors from the RIAA to Graceland to go through Colonel’s files. The auditors were able to locate sales figures to prompt an amazing number of certifications for the August 1992 presentation previously described. Since then, RCA Records has continued working on retroactive certifications and certification of ongoing American sales. They are also working on the even more difficult task of documenting Elvis' past and ongoing international sales."


These 2 examples are the best!

"The ongoing modifications that the RIAA has made to adjust to new sales conditions and trends, include a number of different pricing parameters, that eliminate or reduce a substantial number of Elvis sales – including the dismissal of more than 1 million units of Elvis' Christmas Album from 1970. The Beatles and Garth Brooks have not been affected in the same way. Likewise double albums count as one or two certifiable units depending on playing time. This again hurts Elvis, as the limit is 100 minutes, and a double album in the days of vinyl records could not hold 100 minutes with sacrificing the sound. This means that classic Presley albums like Aloha from Hawaii and Elvis in Concert only count as single albums."

"The RIAA counts only certifiable round numbers: 500,000 for GOLD and full millions for platinum and multiple platinum. This means that the 1,012,088 sales of Elvis NBC TV Special counts as much as the 1,922,601 of You'll Never Walk Alone: one million RIAA Sales - i.e. 922,601 of the latter are not counted.

You might argue that these conditions are the same for all artists, which indeed they are, but because of the ever changing ways of releasing music over the past decades, the consequences are quite remarkable in that the more albums you have released, the more sales you lose by being under and in between levels. Garth Brooks reached his figures with only 12 releases, which means he could ONLY have 12 x 999,999 lost sales, where as Beatles has 36 platinum albums and a theoretical loss three times as high as Garth Brooks. The staggering number of Elvis albums released over the past 45 years means that his “lost” sales by RIAA accounting are astronomic compared to his main competitors."

Do you see what I mean KIWIALAN!

Wed May 14, 2003 8:57 am

That's exactly why there should be some method of weighting sales over the years so that a 1956 effort could be rightly compared to more recent years.

Elvis LP's were not sold off cheaply - not one of his releases during the 50's or 60's were sold at a price any less than other RCA/Camden artists.

We can all agree that Elvis more than likely has sold more discs than anyone else - and for sure if the "year relative" factor is considered so why this continual agonising to find more sales.

I find it most feasible for Elvis Is Back to have taken some time to sell a million copies - while we agree it was great - it never achieved dizzy heights on the charts. To repeat again - 200,000 in 1960 would equal many millions now. A careful reading of "A Life In Music" reveals sales data - for example - Paradise Hawaiian Style selling less than 250,000 or the "Easy Come, Easy Go" EP selling little more than 30,000 THAT'S 30,000.

The major part of the material quoted from EPE originates word for word from an RCA source. Ormansky from memory.

As for RCA not knowing sales figures? This from the company which has kept all session data?

Paper trails would exist in orders to pressing plants - orders to printers (covers) - returns to Harry Fox - statements to Col. Tom - letters to Elvis - internal memos - accounting data etc etc etc.

And as he was creaming off 25-50% plus unknown mechanical monies the good Colonel would know exactly his due.

Garth Brooks may in fact have sold more units in the USA than Elvis - but without a relative procedure we will never know by how much Elvis outsold him in real terms.

I believe that the Elvis numbers we have are reasonably correct for RIAA purposes. To claim many albums were not counted because they sold "just under one million" is a little desperate and clutching for straws. Every artist could make the same claim. If this remotely true how come RCA does not make the numbers public? We should be above this pettiness. Likewise to worry that Garth is more popular than Elvis (accoding to the RIAA) is a no brainer - it will be Garth? Who? in ten years.

It is not in the interest of the RIAA to admit that Elvis and other acts of the 50's and 60's had more sales appeal than the current crop - what would that signal about the industry!

Unhappily the hypes continues and myths are being created - AND IT DOES NOT NEED TO - so far according to Soundscan (which does count mail/internet sales) ELV1S has sold about 1,800.000 in the USA which IS PRETTY DARN GOOD but does not equate to the RCA claim of 16,000,000 world wide.

The rash of multi-awards from all over the world press-released from RCA for ELV1S was pretty impressive till you think a little about it - it was presented before enough time for independant audits - there was no time to re-count returns which operate in many countries.

Would it not be better that we knew the truth. For example if we knew exactly how many video/DVD units TTWII SE sold our case for ELVIS ON TOUR could be strengthened - it might be affordable - but we don't know!

Elvis fame does NOT need to be boosted artificially :!:

Wed May 14, 2003 10:46 am

I have been buying Elvis records since 1960. I live in the USA.

Elvis's mono LP's were selling for just over $2 and the stereo LP's were
just over $3. Stereo LP's did not get popular until around 1967. People
started buying stereo LP's when classic Rock albums became mainstream.

Elvis has lost alot of sales toward the RIAA because of this, which I hope will be corrected in the near future.

Elv1s total sales for the 1st 21 weeks on billboard are over 2.7 million.

Elvis is Back was on the Billboard charts for 56 weeks. In my opinion 500,000 copies sold is quite low for such an achievment.

Wed May 14, 2003 11:37 am

Elvis LP's were the same price as everyone else. And the price was $3.98 - I have many Cashbox/Billboard articles, etc from the 60's to confirm this. Camden sold for $1.98.

RIAA counted sales based on the recommended price ... so matter what a retailer sold them for the count was based on full price.

As for sales- to quote Ernst

First !2 Month Sales:-

Elvis Is Back 250,000
GI Blues 700,000 Gold (at the time)
Something For... 100,000
Blue Hawaii 2,00,000 Gold+
Pot Luck 200,000
Girls Girls Girls 500,000 Gold?
It...World's Fair 300,000
Fun In Acapulco 300,000
Elvis Gold 3 600,000 Gold
Paradise Hawaiian 250,000
Double Trouble 250,000
Clambake 200,000
Elvis Gold 4 400,000
NBC TV Special 600,000 Gold
Elvis In Memphis 600,000 Gold

All figures from Ernst - who should know - considering where he works.
Which also makes a mockery of EPE/RCA "just under" claims.

Apart from Christmas and Religious LP's - the back catalogue hardly sold at all after the first year of release. It was only the introduction of cassette, 8 track and CD which by forcing fans to re-buy albums forced more into the gold areas.

Apart from Christmas and religious albums - back catalogue sell relatively little after the first year. It wasn't 'till the advent of CD that albums like Elvis Is Back moved into gold.

Now if you assume that all albums have much the same sales increases to 2003 - it is not too difficult to understand why Elvis Is Back is now dropped from the release schedule and why GI Blues and Blue Hawaii received special CD packaging a few years ago. And why Tiger Man and Memories came to be.
Last edited by KiwiAlan on Thu May 15, 2003 8:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

Wed May 14, 2003 4:20 pm

KiwiAlan -
First of all, Ernst likely used RCA sales data for his book. But back in those days record companies were "infamous" for screwing their artists out of royalties by lowballing the sales records. I concede your point that Parker would likely have kept close tabs on things, but on the other hand, David Briggs once referred to RCA as "the cheapest f#$*in' record company," so it's at least conceivable that they fudged the books.
Secondly, the Elvis Is Back! album went to #2 on the charts and stayed on the chart for 56 weeks! This would put it in the top 4 or 5 of Elvis' longest charting albums (the others being G.I. Blues; Blue Hawaii; Elvis Presley; and possibly 1 or 2 others that I don't recall). My point here is that these other albums listed were Elvis' biggest sellers at the time, and Elvis Is Back! had a comparable chart life. I don't recall what was the album that kept Elvis Is Back! from hitting #1, but I'm pretty sure it was a major selling album for that year. So I simply don't buy that this album only sold 250,000 copies on initial release.
Thirdly, records such as "Love Letters"; "My Boy"; and "Promised Land" which were top 20 U.S. hits and top 10 U.K. hits, have likely sold 500,000 copies or more worldwide, but because the RIAA only counts U.S. sales, these records haven't been certified. Strangely, lower charting (U.S./U.K.) records such as "I've Lost You" ; "Tell Me Why"; and "Clean up Your Own Backyard" have been certified, which doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.
Last edited by Pete Dube on Wed May 14, 2003 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Wed May 14, 2003 6:46 pm

Kiwialan, You are missing the point completely. Many of the Elvis sales are not counted at all because of Pricing!!! Even in the article A 1970's Christamas album is not counted because of the under 3 dollars. Now take Garth who discounted his box set to generate sales. True it is fair by the RIAA standards, but unfair to the older artists. The Beatles didn't suffer cause Albums cost more. SOrry, but the RIAA is not counting inflation. Most of the numbers you are quoting is POST 1992. Look at the awards. Ernst has been scrambling find any sales at all. THe numbers are based on what he could prove. I am sure that sales numbers have been lost for good. This is not over hype. Much like Bing. ELVIS SOLD UNITS!!! Millions of them. Notice the list you made doesn't have any regular albums Ep's or whatever. Back then, that was the standard.

Oh and by the way, part of a million is still part of a million. Elvis is the example of a prolific compilations selling more than original albums. His sales are spread out. This is not grasping straws, this is a fact. NO other artist can claim the same kind of fame(except maybe Bing!!lol). Most artists don't make their money that way. Elvis is the standard.

Wed May 14, 2003 6:52 pm

By the way KIWI, assuming you are right and All these albums only went gold in 12 months, then are you telling me that in 50 years they never achieved more than a million!!! Get real. The awards were in house, and the proported million in sales are not counted at all!! The sales you are seeing is mostly from the last couple of decades when Ernst took over. THe real sales are lost forever. Bing has the same problem. He sold 200 million by 1961 and yet White Christmas is the only million seller!!!

The biggest mistake of the RIAA is not counting single sales. That screws most older artists out of serious reckognition. TO further exclude Ep's is criminal. It is a fact that the RIAA didn't certify albums in the millions till the 70's. I have seen so many copies of Elvis Golden Records, I cannot believe it has only sol 6 milllion. Sorry, but if No Fences sold 10 then Golden Records has to have sold 3 times that. There is no way you are going to convince me that a 5 year old album is going to outsell a 50 year old album when it comes to ELVIS!!

Wed May 14, 2003 7:10 pm

A cut and paste from an infomation site.

Tabulating record sales is a tricky business, but according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the organization entrusted with that job in the United States, nobody has come close to unseating Presley as the top-selling artist of all time.

Wed May 14, 2003 9:12 pm

Some further comments -
1.) Genesim, the RIAA does certify singles & ep sales.
2.) I seem to recall that the Camdens were initally priced below $2.00, I believe $1.98 or $1.99. The RIAA's criteria excludes sales of these albums, an album would had to have retailed for at least $2.00 in order to be certified (I'm not 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure about this). There was at least one Camden lp that BMG had evidence for unit sales of 500,000-1,000,000, but the RIAA would not certify it because it didn't meet their criteria.
3.) "Flop" albums such as Raised On Rock; The Fool lp; and Love Letters probably sold 200,000 - 250,000 units in the U.S. at the time of their original release. Add on, say, another 50,000 units of foreign sales for each album. Now factor in the worldwide sales spike of ALL Elvis' records in the period following his death (ROR and Fool were deleted from the catalogue at that time, but LLs' was still available). Finally, factor in the sales of these albums when re-released as part of the Elvis in the 90's series. I submit that each of these records - if they haven't as of yet surpassed 500,000 units in sales - then they are just under, particularly LLs'. But because they are under 500,000 they are not counted by the RIAA in Elvis' overall sales tally!
4.) While I confess to having become somewhat sceptical in the past few years as to the often-touted "Elvis has sold a billion (or over a billion) records worldwide", on the other hand I do think that if anybody has hit the billion sales mark, it's Elvis and (probably) the Beatles. And if it turns out that the Beatles have actually sold a billion and Elvis 800,000,000, well I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it!

Wed May 14, 2003 10:26 pm

Yes I did know they certified singles. Too bad those figures are lost as well. As far as sales. NO I don't have any doubt that the Beatles are up there, but GARTH BROOKS!!! NEVER!!!

sales

Thu May 15, 2003 5:00 am

For the record, Iwas told by an RCA official several years ago that the reason many of Elvis' records from the early years were never certified was because the criteria was so tough.Think about it,to be certified
gold back in the early 60s you had to gross 1,000,000 dollars
in sales (for LPs) BASED on 33.3 % of the retail price.So,in
order to go gold,Elvis Is Back would have to have sold AT least
800,000 copies(the price being 2.98 at the time for frontline
LPs).Also this soruce told me that the mail order album from 1973
(Elvis) had sold 10,000,000 copies in the U.S.This information was
given to me in such a way that I dont doubt the truth.
Now the question is,why hasent all this come out?The only way
this will be settled will be for RCA to release the sales figures.If
what they say is true,why not?

Thu May 15, 2003 7:35 am

I feel that we are in basic agreement here.

In that while an album on release may have sold about 200,000 during it's first year -accumulated sales over years, helped by new media (Cassette,CD etc) would have reached the magic million. There is no dipute here and the awards line the wall at Graceland.

It was very tough to gain a gold LP record during the late 50's and early 60's - and that's how it should be.

In their effort to boost their industry the RIAA have diluted and demeaned the importance of the Gold disc system over the years.

This is the wording on a Cashbox advertisement from 1958. It is interesting to note that the Colonel obviously resisted Elvis involvement for many years.

Otherwise "For Lp Fans Only" and A Date With Elvis" look every bit like they may have been intended for Camden eg 10 tracks and compilations.


"""""""An RCA Victor Statement about RCA Camden Records
by G. R. Marek, Vice-President and General Manager
RCA Record Division

"We are proud of the opportunity to make great music by great artists available to millions by virtue of the low pricesof RCA Camden Records. Were it not for the co-operation of artists such as the late Arturo Toscanini, Guy Lombardo, the Boston Pops and Symphony Orchestras, Leonard Bernstein, Count Basie, Hugo Winterhalter, Henri René, Perry Como and many, many others, RCA Camden Records could not be . . . for it is only in their willingness to have their music available at these prices that RCA Camden can exist.

"It is the desire of RCA Victor that the public be assured that the same high standards used in the production of RCA Victor Records have also been used in the manufacture of RCA Camden Records."

$1.98 for 12" Long Play Records; 98¢ for 45 rpm EP's"""""""""

Thu May 15, 2003 7:53 am

I'd just clear up a few misconceptions. First about lists price: no LP sells for more than 2/3rds of that price. The list price on 30 #1 Hits is $19.98. Even in the ridiculous mall stores, I have not seen the CD at that price and I don't of anyone who paid that much. I paid $9.99. So generating a million dollars in revenue in 1960 was quite the mean feat even though it wasn't in 1973. That's why they changed the system.

As for whether or not RCA would short Elvis sales in order to deny him royalties: the answer is OOH YEAH. RCA cheated Elvis like every record company cheated their stars. (No Motown records from the 60s were certified Gold during the 60s for this very reason.) The only thing was that the sums being denied the artist were much greater in Elvis' case. To show what kind of reptiles Elvis was dealing with I'll submit a quote Clinton Heylin got from a entertainment lawyer on dealing with the record industry: "I would venture to say, except by accident, there isn't an honest royalty statement issued by any major recording company in the business today. That's my personal view, and I have a lot of evidence behind it. In one case, I deposed a man who had been audit manager for one of the bigger labels. I asked him, 'Did you ever in your career see an audit where there wasn't a shortfall to the performer?' 'No'. 'Did you ever see an audit where the performer was overpaid?' 'Never'. So these are not errors."

The idea that Col. Parker kept close tabs on these things is ludicrous. Elvis' contract with RCA did not even contain an audit provision.

Thu May 15, 2003 8:09 am

I would also like to dispute the idea that Elvis' back catalogue didn't move until the CD revolution. Elvis' back catalogue always moved big units. During his lifetime only 13 of 65 LPs were deleted. In Jerry Hopkins' "The Final Years" he explains how many of Elvis' 70s releases were slow but steady sellers dilluted by the fact that RCA released so many albums.

The market for Elvis' greatest hits has been almost insatiable since their original release. Even before the reissue boom of the 80s when stuff like doo wop and other vintage music came back into print, Elvis' stuff moved. In 1973 Brookville Marketing put together a two disc greatest hits collection called "Elvis". It was available only on TV and sold over three million units. Unfortunately, because this was a mail order record it doesn't count in the RIAA calculations nor do any of the various Reader's Digest albums, Time Life etc. Elvis was a big seller in this market.

But the average record buyer also displayed an appetite for these hits. Worldwide Gold Award Hits despite a hefty list price as a box set went all the way to #45 in 1970. Four years later the non CD Legendary Performer started. And the first two of these topped two million. In 1975 the budget set "Pure Gold" topped two million. And on and on.

The loss of singles is a big loss as well. Singles were the coin of the realm until the late 60s. In C/W where Elvis remained a big draw throughout, they were big money makers into the 70s.

Finally, I don't know how many sales from 1977 that are unaccounted for but they must be enormous. RCA stated record profits for that year. And I remember it first hand. I was 8 years old and I remember walking into department stores and record stores and there were signs up that read: "WE HAVE NO ELVIS PRESLEY RECORDS". That was how great a demand there was. In the history of life I have never ever seen that again with any other artist at any other time.

Thu May 15, 2003 8:49 am

There seems to be some confusion about LP retail prices back then

I have in front of me a RCA full page Billboard advertisement from issue dated March 31, 1956.

The caption being:-

"A RED HOT STAR IS BORN ON RCA VICTOR RECORDS!"

(large cover image)

Long Play (LPM-1254) $3.98

45 EP's (EPA-747) $1.49
(EPB-1254) $2.98

The Dealers Choice -RCA VICTOR


Also sales calculations for Gold awards did not take any account of discounting - after all that would require checking the price of in every store in the USA. The Nationally Advertised Price applied ($3.98).

So Camden was quite a bargain at $1.98.

While many black artists were ripped off in many ways and usually by black owned companies - I doubt whether the same went on to any SIGNIFCANT degree with Elvis or other high selling volume artists - there were simply too many financial interested parties to fool. Let alone the IRD.

Leiber and Stoller have spent years tracking and clawing back short payments from many independant labels but Elvis has never been of concern to them. No one has taken RCA to court.

Elvis accounted for 50% of all RCA sales in 1956 - there was no need to rip anyone off. He was raking it in for them!


If you think that untold millions were not counted then that would apply to all artists relatively - so it would not matter - Elvis still comes out on top!.


In light of recent events it must be unfashionable to actually consider a corporate might be honest - which says a lot about morality and USA business ethics. RCA was no backyard Detroit shoebox operation it was a division of one of the world's biggest and succesful companies.

There seems to be a continuing bad-mouthing of RCA by some board members. Consider - how many releases we are getting this year - from an artist dead for 26 years? How many will DOT put out for Pat Boone this year? Or Decca with Bill Haley or Cadence/Warner for the Everly Brothers or Capitol/EMI/Apple for the Beatles :!:

I for one are very, very grateful that RCA continues to support Elvis whether as mainstream or via FTD.

Thu May 15, 2003 9:04 am

They were not honest with Elvis. He may have been raking in a fortune but that was all the more reason to rip Elvis off. The majors are the biggest thieves out there. Even today it's outrageous. Artists have multi-million selling CDs and take in almost nothing in royalties. Elvis was no different. After one of the biggest year in his history (1969) Elvis was earning a five percent royalty on his singles much less than what significant competitors were bringing in. His cut on LPs was much lower than comparable artists.

Had RCA been honest or ethical they would have renegotiated the 1973 buyout after Elvis' death made it obscene. This I believe is why the records from this year have never been released. They were probably quelched because of the disgrace of RCA raking up millions on a dead man and paying his estate almost nothing.

If Lieber and Stoller were so diligent after their money they wouldn't have signed away half their publishing rights away in order to get Elvis to record their songs. None of the writers that wrote Elvis on a regular basis, either unknowns or African-Americans or poor whites were going to question a big company like RCA.

That being said, I do agree that BMG has done a good job with Elvis' catalogue in recent years (save the decision to delete "Elvis is Back"). I wish they would see Elvis more as an artistic legacy than a cash-cow but that's capitalism. But I love the FTD label and the box sets like "Today, Tomorrow and Forever". I also appreciate their attempts to get Elvis' retroactive certifications.

Thu May 15, 2003 6:49 pm

Interesting point KIWIALAN. Though some Camden rleases had significant sales, though I am guessing here. Supposedly some Christmas album sold over a million, but because of pricing parameters it can't be counted.

You have quoted 3.98? Maybe on that album it didn't apply. With incomplete figures, I am sure some of the discounts did get turned down because of pricing parameters. Though again, I am just guessing.

The real point is that playing time for double albums(if you just counted Aloha as a double album then Elvis would pass up Garth Brooks and Led Zeppelin OFFICIALLY!!), camden lower price releasing, incomplete or straight up lost sales, no gold or platinum album consideration for most of E's career, and spread out sales on 100's of releases all play a part in why even now Elvis is not accurately certified!

Thu May 15, 2003 8:54 pm

"I Need Your Love Tonight"/"A Fool Such As I" full-page Billboard ad March 16, 1959

it reads (and is boldprint capitalized) as follows:

MARCH 10: ELVIS' NEWEST POP SINGLE RELEASE SHIPPED OUT TO DEALERS ALL OVER AMERICA!

MARCH 11: GOLD RECORD AWARD SHIPPED TO ELVIS IN GERMANY FOR THIS MILLION SELLER!

(below in the ad, there's the image of the picture sleeve)

-------

Okay. Gold award for a million units sold?
1 million in its first day of release??? And RCA confirmed this and promoted it within 5 days (March 16).
This may raise the question: did this single go double platinum by 1960?

Thu May 15, 2003 11:36 pm

I'd just like to state for the record that when I referred to RCA in my previous posts on this thread I was referring to the pre- BMG RCA. I think that BMG has done right by Elvis overall. The best thing they've done: bringing Ernst & Roger on board! Elvis' recorded legacy will never have any better caretakers!