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Surprise, Surprise: Mozart Had the Top-Selling CD of 2016

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Portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart circa 1780 painted by Johann Nepomuk della Croce (Universal History Archive/Getty Images)
Portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart circa 1780 painted by Johann Nepomuk della Croce (Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

 

Sorry, Adele, Drake, Beyoncé, Kanye, and every other pop mega-star that put out an album this year. According to Billboard, the highest-selling CD of 2016 was, of all things, a collection of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music.

A massive collection of Mozart, it should be noted. Mozart 225: The New Complete Edition is an unprecedented 200-CD-strong mega-box-set, recorded by 60 orchestras and hundreds of soloists. All told, it’s 240 hours of music that encompasses his complete body of work.

Compiling the set took Universal Music Group 18 months, and they’re calling it the “most authoritative, complete, and scholarly box set ever devoted to the work of a single composer.” They also compared the cultural resonance of Mozart’s “immortal melodies” to the later work of The Beatles and ABBA.

Billboard claims that this mammoth box set has moved 1.25 million total CDs since its official release in October 2016, meaning 6,250 people bought the box set. Considering how expensive the box set is ($500 on Amazon), that’s pretty impressive, but given the amount of CDs per set, congratulating Mozart’s legacy for raw CD sales this year seems a little disingenuous. Given the fuzzy math involved here, it’s more accurate to claim that Mozart had the best-selling CD of the year, but not the best-selling album. That feat went to Drake, at least according to iTunes.

Ultimately, though, this story shows just how far the CD has fallen out of favor with consumers. Or just how much people love their Mozart.