More than 400 million copies of Elvis Presley albums have been sold outside of the U.S., according to RCA Records and BMG Entertainment Intl. execs. The industry record tally was unveiled Monday as part of ceremonies launching Graceland’s “Elvis Week,” which commemorates the 20th anniversary of the King’s death.
Elvis, who died on Aug. 16, 1977, was honored with a special award commemorating the 125 gold, platinum, double-platinum, silver and diamond plaques he received from Africa, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
BMG Intl. prexy Rudi Gassner and RCA Records prexy Bob Jamieson presented the wall of plaques to Jack Soden, CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises. The awards display will become a permanent part of the Graceland tour.
Unlike the U.S., where gold sales plaques denote sales of more than 500,000 copies and platinum 1 million units, the sales threshold varies in each country.
Label execs estimate that 60% of Elvis’ sales are outside of the U.S. and that more than 1 billion copies of his recordings have been sold on a worldwide basis.
“In truth, this gesture is only symbolic,” Gassner said. “We would never be so presumptuous as to try to reduce Elvis’ impact on the world to anything that could fit in a confined space. His influence is impossible to measure.”
Retailers are also prepping for the anni by beefing up inventory of Elvis discs and creating sales events to go along with the release by RCA Records of a four-CD box set dubbed “Elvis Presley Platinum: A Life In Music.”
The 100-song collection features 77 previously unreleased performances. More than 22,000 copies of the set have been sold since its July 15 bow.
“Elvis always has been and always will be a vital part of the RCA family,” said Jamieson. “We are incredibly proud to play a role in ensuring that his great legacy is preserved with integrity and an unshakable commitment to his music.”
Other label tie-ins include creating special record sets to be sold at Elvis conventions and a link with Reader’s Digest music, which will release on Aug. 16 a greatest hits set of 84 tracks to be sold via direct response.