Empires and Dance charted poorly, peaking at only number 41 in the UK Albums Chart. According to the Allmusic review of the album, this is primarily because the record company Arista only released a small number of copies at a time before each batch sold out. This had the effect of limited availability for fans.
The opening track "I Travel" was released as a single in 1980, but failed to chart. "Celebrate" was chosen as the second single due to popularity amongst fans. However, it was only released after Simple Minds had left the label. As a result the single sold very poorly, and the picture sleeve 7" is amongst the hardest of the band's singles to find.
Following the release of this album, Simple Minds transferred to Virgin Records, where they met with much greater commercial success. Arista tried to capitalize on this success by re-releasing "I Travel" as a single in 1982, along with a compilation "Celebration". In 1983, Virgin rereleased "I Travel" on 12", to coincide with the acquisition of the band's Arista catalogue. Both times, it still failed to chart.