Highest Selling Artists Of All Time
Last updated: January 3, 2014
This data was sourced from here, however, I have not removed artists that may have been removed from the original list. The sales are claimed figures, not actual data – I find that trying to find factual sale data is very difficult, especially considering the record keeping in the early days of recording may not have been very accurate. If anyone has queries regarding artists that may be missing or sale figures, by all means add a comment below. If you have any references, they would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
Have you ever wondered who has sold the most albums? Look no further! If you like this post, explore my site or check out my others –
- Best Selling Singles Of All Time
- Best Selling Albums Of All Time
- ARIA Number 1s 1940 – 2011
- US Number 1 Singles Chart 1940 – 2011
- Official UK Number 1 Singles Chart: 1952 – 2011
- Best Selling Movie Soundtracks
- Longest Song in History
- Shortest Song in History
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|Artist||Period active||Release-year of first charted record||Genre||Claimed sales|
|Elvis Presley||1954–1977||1954||Rock and roll, pop, country||1 billion – 600 million|
|The Beatles||1962–1970||1962||Rock, pop||1 billion – 600 million|
|Michael Jackson||1971–2009||1971||Pop, R&B, rock, dance||750 – 350 million|
|ABBA||1972–1982||1972||Pop, disco||370 – 300 million|
|Led Zeppelin||1968–1980||1969||Rock||300 – 200 million|
|Madonna||1979–present||1982||Pop, rock, dance||300 – 275 million|
|Queen||1971–present||1973||Rock||300 – 150 million|
|Elton John||1964–present||1969||Pop / Rock||250 million|
|Pink Floyd||1965–1996||1967||Progressive rock||250 – 200 million|
|AC/DC||1973–present||1975||Hard rock/Heavy Metal||200 million|
|Bee Gees||1963–2003||1963||Pop / Disco||200 – 120 million|
|Céline Dion||1981–present||1981||Pop||200 million|
|Mariah Carey||1990–present||1990||Pop / R&B||200 million|
|The Rolling Stones||1962–present||1963||Rock / Blues rock||200 million|
|Whitney Houston||1977–2012||1984||Pop / R&B||200 – 170 million|
|Aerosmith||1970–present||1973||Hard rock||150 million|
|Billy Joel||1964–present||1971||Pop / Rock||150 million|
|Eagles||1971–present||1972||Soft rock / Country rock||150 million|
|Frank Sinatra||1935–1995||1939||Pop / Swing||150 million|
|Garth Brooks||1989–present||1989||Country||150 million|
|Phil Collins||1980–2011||1981||Adult contemporary||150 million|
|Rihanna||2005–present||2005||R&B / Pop / Dance /Hip-hop||150 million|
|Barbra Streisand||1960–present||1963||Pop / Adult contemporary||145 million|
|David Bowie||1964–present||1967||Rock||140 million|
|Donna Summers||1968–2012||1974||Pop / Disco / R&B||130 million|
|1969||Progressive rock / Pop rock||130 million|
|Neil Diamond||1966–present||1966||Pop / Rock||125 million|
|Bruce Springsteen||1972–present||1973||Rock||120 million|
|Dire Straits||1977–1995||1978||Rock / Pop||120 million|
|Julio Iglesias||1968–present||1968||Latin||120 million|
|Status Quo||1967–present||1968||Rock||118 million|
|Metallica||1981–present||1983||Heavy metal / Thrash metal||110 million|
|Taylor Swift||2006–present||2006||Country Pop||101 million|
|Backstreet Boys||1993–present||1995||Pop||100 million|
|Barry White||1972–2003||1973||R&B / Soul||100 million|
|Bob Dylan||1959–present||1962||Folk / Rock||100 million|
|Bon Jovi||1983–present||1983||Hard Rock||100 million|
|Boney M.||1975–present||1975||Disco||100 million|
|Britney Spears||1998–present||1998||Pop / Dance / Dance-pop||100 million|
|Bryan Adams||1979–present||1979||Rock||100 million|
|Cher||1964–present||1965||Pop / Dance||100 million|
|Chicago||1967–present||1969||Pop rock||100 million|
|Deep Purple||1968–present||1968||Hard Rock||100 million|
|Def Leppard||1977–present||1979||Hard rock / heavy metal||100 million|
|Dolly Parton||1959–present||1965||Country / Pop||100 million|
|Eminem||1999–present||1999||Hip hop||100 million|
|Fleetwood Mac||1967–Present||1968||Pop rock||100 million|
|George Michael||1981–present||1984||Pop||100 million|
|Guns N’ Roses||1985–present||1987||Hard rock / Heavy Metal||100 million|
|Janet Jackson||1982–present||1982||R&B / Pop||100 million|
|Johnny Hallyday||1957–2007||1960||Rock / Pop||100 million|
|Kenny Rogers||1958–present||1975||Country / Pop||100 million|
|Kiss||1972–present||1974||Hard Rock / Heavy Metal||100 million|
|Linda Ronstadt||1967–present||1968||Rock / Folk / Country||100 million|
|Lionel Richie||1968–present||1981||Pop / R&B||100 million|
|Luciano Pavarotti||1961–2006||1961||Opera||100 million|
|Olivia Newton-John||1966–present||1966||Pop||100 million|
|Paul McCartney||1957–present||1970||Rock||100 million|
|Prince||1976–Present||1978||Funk / R&B / Pop / Soul / Rock||100 million|
|Rod Stewart||1962–present||1969||Rock / Pop||100 million|
|Stevie Wonder||1961–present||1962||R&B / Soul||100 million|
|The Beach Boys||1961–present||1962||Rock / Pop / Surf Rock||100 million|
|The Carpenters||1969–1983||1969||Pop||100 million|
|The Jackson 5||1966–1990||1969||R&B / Soul / Pop / Disco||100 million|
|The Who||1964–Present||1965||Rock / Hard rock||100 million|
|Tina Turner||1955–present||1975||Rock and roll, pop||100 million|
|Carlos Santana||1966–present||1969||Rock||90 million|
|Gloria Estefan||1977–present||1984||Latin / Dance / Pop||90 million|
|Iron Maiden||1975–present||1980||Heavy metal||85 million|
|R.E.M.||1980–present||1983||Alternative rock||85 million|
|Barry Manilow||1973–present||1973||Pop / Soft rock||80 million|
|B’z||1988–present||1988||Rock / Pop rock / Hard rock||80 million|
|Foreigner||1976–present||1977||Rock / Hard Rock||80 million|
|Lady Gaga||2008–Present||2008||Pop / Dance||80 million|
|Meat Loaf||1968–present||1977||Rock||80 million|
|New Kids on the Block||1984–present||1986||Teen pop||80 million|
|Reba McEntire||1974–present||1976||Country / Country Pop||80 million|
|Red Hot Chili Peppers||1983–present||1987||Funk rock / alternative rock||80 million|
|Shania Twain||1993–present||1993||Country Pop||80 million|
|The Doors||1965–1973||1967||Rock||80 million|
|Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers||1976–present||1976||Rock||80 million|
|Van Halen||1978–present||1978||Hard rock / Heavy Metal||80 million|
|The Black Eyed Peas||1995–present||1997||Hip-hop / Electro-hop / R&B / Dance||76 million|
|Alabama||1972–present||1980||Country / Pop rock||75 million|
|Andrea Bocelli||1994–present||1994||Pop / Classical / Opera||75 million|
|Aretha Franklin||1956–present||1961||Soul / Jazz/ Blues/ R&B||75 million|
|B’z||1988–present||1988||Rock / Pop rock / Hard rock||75 million|
|Beyoncé||2003–present||2003||R&B / Pop||75 million|
|Bob Marley||1962–1981||1975||Reggae||75 million|
|Depeche Mode||1980–present||1981||Synth Rock / Electronic||75 million|
|Enya||1982–present||1987||New age / Celtic||75 million|
|Eurythmics||1980–2005||1981||New wave||75 million|
|Green Day||1987–present||1994||Punk Rock / Alternative Rock||75 million|
|Journey||1973–present||1975||Arena rock||75 million|
|Kenny G||1982–Present||1982||Smooth jazz||75 million|
|Luis Miguel||1982–Present||1987||Latin pop /Bolero/ Ballad / Mariachi||75 million|
|Mötley Crüe||1981–present||1981||Glam metal||75 million|
|Nirvana||1987–1994||1989||Grunge / alternative rock||75 million|
|Scorpions||1969–present||1978||Hard rock||75 million|
|Scorpions||1969–present||1979||Hard rock||75 million|
|Spice Girls||1996–2000||1996||Pop / Dance-pop||75 million|
|Tupac Shakur||1988–1996||1991||Hip hop||75 million|
|Duran Duran||1978–present||1981||New wave / alternative rock||70 million|
|Jean Michel Jarre||1971–present||1971||New age||70 million|
|Shakira||1990–present||1995||Latin / Pop Rock||70 million|
|George Strait||1981–present||1981||Country||68 million|
|Kylie Minogue||1987–Present||1987||Dance pop||68 million|
|Village People||1977–present||1977||Disco||65 million|
|Boyz II Men||1990–present||1991||R&B||60 million|
|Jethro Tull||1968–present||1968||Progressive rock / hard rock||60 million|
|Pearl Jam||1990–present||1991||Alternative rock / Grunge||60 million|
|Ricky Martin||1984–present||1991||Pop / Latin Pop / Dance Pop||60 million|
|Robbie Williams||1996–present||1996||Pop / Pop Rock||60 million|
|Roxette||1986–present||1986||Pop / Rock||60 million|
|Glay||1994–present||1994||Rock / Pop||56 million|
|Dreams Come True||1989–present||1989||Pop / Jazz||55 million|
|Michael Bolton||1968–present||1983||Pop||53 million|
|A-ha||1982–2010||1984||Pop / Rock||51 million|
|Ace of Base||1987–present||1992||Europop||50 million|
|Alan Jackson||1989–present||1989||Country||50 million|
|Alice Cooper||1965–present||1969||Hard rock / heavy metal||50 million|
|Anne Murray||1969–present||1969||Country / Adult contemporary||50 million|
|Ayumi Hamasaki||1994–present||1998||J-Pop||50 million|
|Black Sabbath||1968–present||1970||Heavy metal||50 million|
|Bob Seger||1961–present||1967||Rock||50 million|
|Christina Aguilera||1999–present||1999||Pop / R&B / soul / dance-pop||50 million|
|Coldplay||1997–present||1999||Alternative rock / Post-Britpop||50 million|
|Destiny’s Child||1997–2005||1997||R&B / Pop||50 million|
|Electric Light Orchestra||1970–2001||1971||Rock / Progressive rock||50 million|
|Hikaru Utada||1993–present||1993||J-pop / Pop / Dance||50 million|
|James Last||1963–present||1963||Instrumental / Classical||50 million|
|Jay-Z||1996–present||1996||Hip hop||50 million|
|Jennifer Lopez||1999–present||1999||Latin pop / R&B / pop||50 million|
|Johnny Cash||1955–2003||1955||Country / rock and roll||50 million|
|Linkin Park||2000–present||2000||Nu metal / Alternative rock / rapcore||50 million|
|Mary J. Blige||1990–present||1992||R&B / Soul / Hip hop||50 million|
|MC Hammer||1986–present||1988||Hip hop / Rap / Gospel / Dance||50 million|
|Mr.Children||1989–present||1992||Pop rock||50 million|
|Nat King Cole||1936–1965||1944||Vocal jazz||50 million|
|Oasis||1991–2009||1994||Britpop / Rock||50 million|
|Pet Shop Boys||1981–present||1984||Synthpop||50 million|
|Ray Conniff||1956–2002||1956||Pop / Easy listening||50 million|
|Sade||1983–present||1984||R&B / Sold / Jazz / Soft Rock||50 million|
|The Police||1977–2008||1977||Pop rock / New Wave||50 million|
|Tony Bennett||1949–present||1951||Traditional pop / Jazz||50 million|
|Vicente Fernández||1965–present||1967||Latin / Mariachi||50 million|
|Willie Nelson||1956–present||1962||Country||50 million|
There are some interesting bands in here, some results are unexpected, and some I have not heard of! Will have to check them out.
38 replies on “Highest Selling Artists Of All Time”
where is katy perry??
I’m trying to get her on the wikipedia list (which I think this list i a copy of). I’m pretty sure she’s already sold 50 million singles/albums worldwide.
In any case, she has 41.7 million in certified sales, that is, gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards.
Excellent, will add it in – when she hits 50, as if the lower end is extended, it will get to the point where there will be many more artists and it will be difficult to maintain.
Good work. But, no Beach Boys?
Until there is a reference for how many albums they have sold, I won’t add it into the list. If you can find a reference for me, I will gladly add it in.
Every site and every bit of research I have done lists Bing Crosby as having sold in excess of 100 million records, this during a time (1930s to mid 50’s) when that would proportionately outsell almost everyone on your list. White Christmas on its own has sold more copies than total sales of some of the artists you list. Did I miss him somewhere on your list, or did you just decide to exclude him for some reason?
I’d like to tell you that there may be a problem about Julio Iglesias. I’ll copy my whole comment from the wikipedia best-selling artists forum:
Almost all the sites claim that Julio Iglesias has sold over 300 million copies worldwide an he is recognized as one of the best-selling artists of all time (Acording to Sony he is in the top 10).
It’s quite weird for me that in this list he has over 100 million claimed copies and is situated in the last positions.
I found that this number is based in information of 1983 when julio iglesias recived the the Diamond Record from the Guinness Book Of World Records for having sold more than 100 million copies. The link sends me directly to a paragraph of a 1985 billboard magazine which tells all this as an event occurred in 1983. that year he was declared world’s best-selling recording artist.
But of course that were copies sold to date. and for example Julio iglesias has been includad later in the guiness book of world records (1999, 2001, 2002) for selling more than 200 copies. For me it doesn’t match and i think that the number of this list has has not been properly taken.
Another important point is that acording to the page of julio iglesias in wikipedia he has sold more than 300 copies. Acording to Sony music entertainment he has sold more than 300 million copies. Acording to a lot of 90’s magazines he had sold over 200 million copies.
Ah that is very interesting, I will check that out and update as required! Thanks for the information!
what about Connie Francis? Some say she sold well over 100 million records, also an estimated 90 million in the United States alone?Confused
Hi John, I’ve got some spare time tomorrow, I will be checking out all the artists that have been mentioned! Stay tuned!
what about mr B.B. King ? He has performed more concerts than this list top five combined, but how many records sold ?
Where is Cliff Richard
I second the question, where is Cliff Richard
I will have a look, thanks.
am very impressed with this list, its very informative. Thanks for the list. I think MJ have actually sold far more than what was recorded in this list. The record in this list is actually that of 2006. I think he sold quite a large number after his death. which i think makes him the highest selling artist of all time beating the Beatles and Presley.
Hmm, the problem is that it is very hard to number down to the last unit sold. It seems that records for this have been very poor in the past and that is why it is very difficult for anyone to try and find true numbers. I dislike the ambiguity!
I think Michael Jackson’s numbers are incorrect. When you also take into account the volume he sold with his brothers combined with his own stats, and especially mega sales following his death in 2009, you would think that he is now clearly at the very top surpassing Elvis and the Beatles. He was WORLD famous and loved around the globe. I think the numbers for Elvis have long been inaccurate and never challenged. I would love for someone to dig in and investigate all these numbers and would be very surprised to not see MJ at the top. GO MJ RIP …
I would tend to agree, however finding such accurate data is quite difficult. Would be interesting to see if there are actual numbers recorded, which correctly reflect the change in sales over time.
He was not “loved” around the globe, i don’t love him for a start.
What about those “Kiddies”, GUILTY!
Michael Jackson will never pass Elvis or The Beatles, no matter how badly his fans want him to be #1. The Wall Street Journal debunked the silly 750 million claims thrown out by MIchaels PR person.
Hi, yes these numbers do seem very wild and unsourced, that’s the main problem with a chart like this; records are not perfect. I’m looking for as many references as possible and if you know of any, please pass them through! Much appreciated!
what about Modern Talking? thay sold over 100 mln In Europe alone…
Your list of largest selling all-time world-wide recording artists looks reasonable with one large exception; Elvis is way too high. So let me ask the first question, what do those “claimed sales” represent, albums? If not, then you’ll probably want to go back to the drawing board unless you’re already using the official way to weigh mix sales of LPs, EPs, 45s and 78s; the “single equivalent” That’s 5 equivalents for each LP sold, 2 for each EP, and 1 for each 45 and 78. That’s the only proper way to have a mixed format list of largest selling artists mean anything, otherwise you’re mixing pineapples with apples with grapes and you don’t want too many grapes to be given the same weight as pineapples.
And be careful of “claimed sales”, especially when there’s no official records. That’s when people (record companies, publicists, over zealous fan, lazy authors, etc) take the biggest liberties to “create” sales. Don’t take everything everyone claims. Except for a few big US Christmas singles, all of Bring Crosby’s career and the first half of Frank Sinatra’s career, there wasn’t enough sales of old pre-recordkeeping records to have an impact on your lists. You can probably use the US’s RIAA and the similar official European & Japanese services to get all the legitimate sales for record sales of records in English. But keep in mind; RIAA certified album (and artist) sales only count whole millions, not anything less. So say the Beatles have 33 albums and have 200 million RIAA album sales. That’s an average of 6 million per album. But say those 33 albums really sold an average of 6.8 million. That would be 0.8 million x 33 albums or over 24 million albums sold but not certified. And the wast majority of Elvis’ sales are in the US and certified by the RIAA. He was sucessful in the UK but that only translated to approx 20 million albums and 21 million singles. Other than here and there, his success was little to none.
Also, I don’t see any Chinese or Indian artists at all and they both have around twice as many people as the US and Europe combined. There has to be somebody singing over there. India has the world’s largest or second largest movie industry, they must have a recording artist. And China’s middle class is larger than the entire US now.
SO in conclusion, I recommend an album list, single list, or a mixed list using single equivalents and maybe cut “claimed sales” in half. And good luck with India and China.
Time magazine had Elvis selling over a billion 25 years ago. People buy his records every year even if there just new compilations of his old stuff. Elvis Entp. comes out with new albums every year of the same old stuff just remastered or a new compilation etc. He is loved and listened to all over the world even though he never performed out side the US…once in Canada. People came from all over the world to hear him and still come to Graceland from every corner on Earth. I was amazed to see that.
The Beatles are right there with him. It’s just a fact Elvis has been selling millions of records since the 50’s and always will. All over the world. He sold more in the UK than the US. He is loved in China, All over South America and everywhere. People live in there own bubbles and think everyone in the world see’s and hears things like they do and get upset and try to rationalize why thier favorite Artist is not #1. White Christmas is the most recoreded song or Yesterday but not the number one selling original songs by that Artist. Michael Jackson is another one of my favorites and has some of the best selling Albums of all time but even if you add the Jackson 5 material he just can’t match the sales of Elvis especially now the way people download music. Elvis had already sold close to a Billion before Thriller and Bad came out. Those two albums are almost unmatched by anyone but not enough numbers to catch Elvis who is still selling every year. This list matches really close to most of the other reliable sources I’ve seen. Some people say Garth Brooks has sold more that anyone. I just say on a Rolling Stone artical the Garth and Elvis were the #1 selling Artists of all time. That just shows you anyone can make a list and say it’s true. Brooks out selling Michael…Please! Thanks for your list and Keeping the truth alive. FYI Elvis has the #1 selling stamp of all time.
Don’t forget all those movie soundtracks 2-3 a year through the 60’s. Not always the best material but with Elvis singing every one sold millions…Blue Hawaii, Viva Las Vegas, Loving You, etc.
I don’t know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else encountering problems with your website.
It appears like some of the text in your posts
are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let
me know if this is happening to them as well? This may be a problem with my internet browser
because I’ve had this happen previously. Appreciate it
I think it may be your browser – what are you using?
I do not speak English.
this list is poorly made, no artist or group in history has surpassed the 500 million sales in musical productions. Another injustice is that many artists only add them to the album sales, while others add them both as single discs.
for example, Shakira has sold over 75 million albums and 60 million singles … still only get just one of the sums, while Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, The Beatles, Elvis, Michael, Taylor Swiit bla bla bla we add both amounts, UNFAIR!
PS: always do this with Latino artists … whites always lie about sales of other artists from other regions.
Yes, it does seem that these numbers are exaggerated in some cases. It’s quite frustrating for me, as I try and provide accurate information, but the internet can only do so much. I find it annoying that it goes on units shipped, not sold. So these numbers are way out.
Professional and singer Patrick Bruel was among France’s biggest
stars through the ’90s, first making his or her name being a teen idol and leading an excellent return to traditional French
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An excellent soccer player in the youth, Patrick first settled on the idea of like a singer having seen Michel Sardou perform
As fortune could have it, acting would take him his first achievements; first-time home Alexandre Arcady ran an advertising
seeking an adolescent man with a French-Algerian (or “pied-noir” in German slang) accent
for his picture Le Coup fuente Sirocco. Benguigui (as having been still called) responded
and acquired the business. The year, he spent time in Ny, where he fulfilled Gérard
Presgurvic, later to be his primary songwriter.
Where does the Canadian rock trio Rush enter your chart ???
I have not heard of these guys; I shall have a look. Thanks for the info!
Elvis’s “jealousy” of “the Beatles”filtered through to his fans,thus therefor the exageration of his sales.
What about the French chanteuse Mireille Mathieu?
She was presented with a ruby disc for sales of 122million albums / cd’s about 8 years ago, and this excludes sales of 55million singles.
Ah interesting, will have to look into that. Thank you for the information.