While many of these discussions are opinion-based, they can lead to arguments. However, listing the top-selling artists is fact-based. We’ve tracked the numbers for the most part so there’s no need to negotiate or convince.
While there are many older artists and bands listed here, it won’t surprise anyone. Some of these will leave you wondering “how in hell did they do that?” and/or question the quality of the music in this world. It is amazing to see how quickly some of these newcomers have climbed up this list.
It’s fascinating to compare these artists with the 10 richest musicians in world. There’s less overlap than you might expect. This is partly due to excessive spending and lack of investment. Many of these artists did it right, but you may be surprised at which. Let’s get to the list with the top-selling artists.
#10 – Justin Bieber
261.4 MILLION CERTIFIED SALES
Scooter Braun (a record executive) discovered Justin Bieber in 2007. He was searching for another singer on YouTube when he accidentally clicked on one of Bieber’s videos! Braun convinced Bieber’s mother to drive him to Atlanta, where he signed with Usher’s record label RBMG. The rest is history.
Justin Bieber, who has sold 261.4 million albums to date, is now a household name. He is also one of the reigning pop kings.
In 2015, he released Purpose, his fourth studio album. This album attracted a larger audience than his predominantly young fans. The first three tracks of the album reached number one on Billboard’s Hot 100. This album’s success led to more collaborations with other artists. His 2021 hit Lonely addressed the difficulties of growing up with deep, personal lyrics.
Trivia Facts In April 2010, the Australian police pulled out of one of his performances after reports that some fans had fainted.
#9 – Led Zeppelin
CLAIMED SALES 300 MILLION
Although Led Zeppelin was a part of the blues-rock, folk-rock, and heavy metal genres, they are considered to be the progenitors. This shows how wide their appeal is. Their single Stairway To Heaven is still one of the most influential and popular songs in rock history.
Their concerts set attendance records. Their albums are some of the most popular. Their nine albums all reached the top 10, and six of them reached the number-one spot. Fans and musicians alike have a great deal to be proud of their legacy. They have won every award. They are deserving of their place on this list.
Trivia Facts – Led Zeppelin was active in an era before the internet. It has been nearly 40 years since their last album. The internet’s collective mind power has made it clear how many songs they “plagiarized” or were heavily influenced.
#8 – Madonna
CLAIMED SALES 300 MILLION
Madonna was a pop star who pushed pop hits high up on the Billboard charts for decades, each one fueling her rise up the list. She is one of few artists who can constantly reinvent herself and her message to remain relevant and exciting. Her constant touring is perhaps more important than all of this. It is an additional marketing tool.
Her business activities help promote her music. She is an actress who won a Golden Globe, owns Maverick Records, is a fashion designer and has several health clubs. Music is all about attention and Madonna knows how get it.
Trivia Facts Madonna is the greatest-selling solo artist, the most-touring female artist ever and the best-selling female artist worldwide. She is second only to Barbara Streisand in the USA.
#7 – Elton John
CLAIMED SALES 300 MILLION
Elton John is a talented performer, songwriter and entertainer. His charisma is infectious. He holds the record in both the UK and USA for best-selling single. His tours are a constant source of success and he has won numerous awards. However, his involvement in movies like The Lion King or the biopic about his life called Rocketman have continued to fuel his sales.
His 11-year long stay at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas was an amazing aspect of his career. He was a serious moneymaker, as you know. He was ranked third overall by Billboard as the most successful male solo artist, just behind Madonna (both here). He has 30 studio albums and many collaborations.
Trivia Facts Sir Elton John is known by the middle name Hercules. He was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight. In 1998, he was knighted for his charitable and musical services. He has performed at numerous royal events at Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.
#6 – Eminem
CERTIFIED SALES 321.4 MILLION
Eminem was initially a shock rapper, but that role quickly faded when people realized they were watching the evolution of one the greatest rappers. Eminem’s many controversies and beefs with other artists led to increased sales and a more consistent release schedule.
He began to release and star in movies and launched Shady Records, his own record label. He went on to win 15 Grammy Awards. He is known for his technical abilities and pure entertainment value, which can be seen in his music. This is what helped him quickly rise to the top of the charts.
Trivia Facts Eminem (real name Marshall Mathers) is the first rapper to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song. This award was given in response to his film 8 Mile. His mother sued him once for slander. He was sued by his mother for slandering a bully who beat him in elementary school. The judge dismissed the case while rapping.
#5 – Rihanna
CERTIFIED SALES 328.5 MILLION
Like Madonna, Rihanna is well-known for her artistic evolution. She started with Caribbean-influenced records and moved into R&B, EDM and dance-pop. Although it may seem surprising, she has created or won 14 number one singles, 31 top ten singles and 9 Grammy Awards. She also received 13 American Music Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards and many other awards.
Rihanna is currently on hiatus as she continues to grow Fenty Beauty cosmetics, her non-profit and her fashion house. These new products will increase demand and excitement for Rihanna’s upcoming ninth studio album. She has starred in major box-office films and has now made the transition to Hollywood and TV.
Trivia Facts – Rihanna uses the surname Fenty for her businesses other than music. To stop her dad from using Fenty Entertainment, she sued her father. He claimed he was trying to mislead the public and assert his association with her brand.
#4 – Drake
CERTIFIED SALES 395.2 MILLION
Canadian star, the Canadian rapper, started his career by circulating a mixtape. He received $300 for the 6,000 copies he sold. The success of his second and third mixtapes in 2007 and 2009 led to an unusual bidding war for him.
His ability to blur the lines between hip-hop and mainstream pop has earned him a wide audience and recognition. His business activities extend beyond music, as many famous rappers have done. He is the owner of an entertainment company, a fashion label and a spirits business that produces a well-known whiskey.
Trivia Facts Before he became a superstar in hip-hop, he was an actor. He was a regular on the “Degrassi: The Next Generation” show.
#3 – Michael Jackson
CLAIMED SALES 400 MILLION
Michael Jackson, the King Of Pop, is a name everyone should know. He is undoubtedly the greatest entertainer and most influential person of the 20th Century. He was the Jackson 5’s star and his solo career made him the most awarded musician.
Jackson’s album Thriller is still the most-sold album of all time (unless you count the greatest hits album that surpasses it). His wealth was so great that he owned The Beatles catalogue. He was also being sued and accused of every crime imaginable.
Trivia Facts Michael Jackson still makes around $825 million per year. This is the most any celebrity has ever made. He was once tied for the record of 8 Grammys won in one ceremony with Santana. He had the highest royalty rate of any musician at $2 per sale during the Thriller years.
#2 – Elvis Presley
CLAIMED SALES 500 MILLION
In many ways, Elvis Presley is akin to Michael Jackson. They called him “The King of Rock and Roll” and consider him one of the greatest cultural icons of the 20th Century. His output was immense, with 24 studio albums, 17 soundtracks and 33 Hollywood films starring in him over the course of 25 years.
He holds the record for most songs charted in Billboard’s top 40 (115) and top 100 (152). He holds 25 multi-platinum records and 101 gold albums, which is the all-time record. He even had a spider named after himself, the Paradonea Presleyi. His sales estimates exceed 1 billion.
Trivia Facts Elvis Presley was drafted to military service in 1958, at the height his career. In 2018, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Graceland, his home, was the second most visited US home after the White House. Since 2006, it has been a National Historic Landmark.
#1 – The Beatles
CLAIMED SALES 600 MILLION
Although they were only a band between 1960 and 1970, the Beatles still hold the title of the greatest-selling artist of all time. They are unbeatable if you include their solo material. Their success was largely due to their “British Invasion”, which brought British pop and rock music into the United States. As did their controversy, their art evolved with every release.
They have won all the awards, starred in many films, broken many records, and one song is their most-covered ever. It is unlikely that the Lennon-McCartney songwriting team will ever be equaled. They were not only popular for their pop appeal but also some of the greatest musicians to have ever lived. They are so great that it isn’t cool for kids to diss them.
Trivia Facts Since 2001 the date of January 16th has been recognized by UNESCO as World Beatles Day. Five asteroids are named after the members of each band and the band. Eric Clapton was the Fifth Beatle once upon a time.
Runners up: Who is almost the best-selling artist of all time?
It’s not fun to list the top 10, but we can add a few runners up. These people are so close to making it into the main list, we must mention them. We also have a few more in the quick list below so that you can keep an eye on the rankings up to the 20s.
CERTIFIED SALES 237 MILLION
Taylor Swift was signed as a professional at the age of 14. Swift’s narrative songs, which were about her life, were charming and drew much media attention. She rose to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart before eventually moving up to the pop charts. She has won numerous awards, including the Grammys Album Of The Year.
She has been awarded Woman of the Decade as well as Artist of the Decade. She’s been the highest-grossing musician for years. While her popularity is waning, she has started to speak out about politics. However, these mistakes do not erase her incredible music history, which she will undoubtedly continue to focus on.
Trivia Facts Taylor Swift was the sole author of most of her music for a long time. A bigwig purchased her former record label Big Machine (including the masters of her first six albums). Taylor was open about her dissatisfaction with the purchase, saying that she has been prevented from performing her own music.
CLAIMED SALES 250 MILLION
Pink Floyd’s 1967 debut album, while Syd Barrett was their leader, saw them gain a solid start. They became an international phenomenon when David Gilmour joined them later. They had only two singles that reached the top 10 in the US and UK, but four albums topped both charts.
They have been around for six decades, which has given them plenty of time to be one of the most popular bands over the course 15 albums. They even composed scores for lesser-known films. Their albums The Dark Side of the Moon, and The Wall were among the most popular.
Trivia Facts – Pink Floyd were big fans of Monty Python. They contributed a lot of money to the funding of the 1975 film Monty Python, and the Holy Grail. Two of Barrett’s favourite blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, gave the band their name.
CLAIMED SALES 220 MILLION
Mariah Carey is the Songbird Supreme. She can sing at the highest pitch of five octaves and even reach the whistle register, something that very few people can do. She has been consistently breaking records since her first album and winning every single release. Funny thing is, her Christmas single has been a major part of her success year after year.
Fans and music companies alike consider her the best-selling artist in music history. Her sales prove it. She holds the record as the solo artist with the most number-one singles. All five of her first singles reached number one on charts. Her first album was number one for 11 consecutive weeks. Since then, not much has changed!
Trivia Facts Mariah Carey will tell you she is an alto. But music professionals and critics give her the title of a Coloratura Soprano. Polyps in her vocal chords allow her to reach the highest notes. The Christmas song, “All I Want for Christmas” by her is almost the best-known song of the season.
CLAIMED SALES 200 MILLION
The Eagles had an amazing impact on the music industry during their original nine-year run that began in 1971. Although their albums featured many top-selling singles, they rarely reached the number one spot. Their greatest hits album, Hotel California, is their best-selling album.
They reformed in 1994 and released an album with new material, live recordings, and a documentary. It’s clear that they will continue to increase their sales. Their mix of R&B and soul, bluegrass and rock was a hit with the masses. It continues to be a popular choice today.
Trivia Facts A member of The Eagles was fired after he demanded a higher share of the profits than the 5-way split they had been enjoying since day 1. Later, he sued for revenge and sought $50 million in damages. The judge dismissed the case.
CLAIMED SALES 200 MILLION
Queen will continue to climb the list. They began in 1970 and continue to create music and tour today with a new singer. Freddy Mercury was an integral part of their success. But their new singers are equally great. Their pop-rock and arena-rock music are well-received. However, many people have begun to dislike some of the most popular songs.
They are the go-to songs for sports fans, and their songs have become a anthem. They have won every award, had some of the greatest movie soundtracks ever made (like the amazing Flash Gordon film and Highlander) and even had a biographical movie about them. This is when you know that you have made it big.
Trivia Facts Since 2004, the band has been on tour again under the “Queen+” name with Adam Lambert and Paul Rodgers as their singers. They’ve released 15 studio albums and have performed 21 concerts. A musical was even created based on their music.
CLAIMED SALES 200 MILLION
Whiney Houston is still the most highly-respected female artist of all times. She is the only artist to have seven consecutive singles reach number one in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was a smart move to transition into acting, as she also composed the soundtrack for The Bodyguard, which is one the most-sold records of all time.
She was also given honorific nicknames, such as The Voice and Queen of Pop. She is on almost every list of the greatest singers and her mezzo-soprano voice doesn’t hurt. She is probably more influential than any other artist.
Trivia Facts Fans mourned her passing at an early age. We paid tribute to her life with numerous documentaries and biographical films. She continued collecting more awards posthumously, further cementing her record.
Honorable Mentions to the Best-Selling Artists All Time
We couldn’t stop there. There are so many amazing artists on this list. You can bet that you know which one will win.
- Celine dion is an amazing Pop singer who has sold 136.8 millions of certified records.
- AC/DC‘s sales have reached 128.3 millions thanks to its large audience in Hard Rock and Blues Rock.
- The Rolling Stones are also active in the Rock and Blues Rock genres. They have sold 102.4 million units so far.
- Garth Brooks, Country’s mega-star, has sold 165.3 million copies.
- Ed Sheeran was the British Pop and Folk Popstar who took the world by storm and helped him to sell 240,000,000 units.
- Billy Joel is a veteran of the music business, having sold over 134.3 million records and been on numerous tours.
- U2 is the arena Rock giants who put on an incredible show and have sold over 114.5 million units.
- Ye (Kanye West). is currently the richest musician alive thanks to his enormous business success. However, he also managed to sell an amazing 245.5 million units.
It’s not worth going any further, as the names get less popular and have a long way to go before they can crack the top 20. So we’ll just stop here. It’s always exciting to see a little change in the list.
This is because these bands have real musical talent or singers who, let’s be honest, are not on the same level as the rest. Although they don’t qualify for the top 10 most talented singers, they are still generating all the sales, fame and money. It’s a wonderful world.
The Top 10 Most-Sold Artists of All Time (2022).
Here is the table listing the top 10 most-sold artists worldwide, with their names, net worth and nationalities.
|1||The Beatles||$600 Million||UK|
|2||Elvis Presley||500 Million||USA|
|3||Michael Jackson||$400 Million||USA|
|4||Drake||$395.2 Million||Canada and the USA|
|7||Elton John||$300 Million||UK|
|9||Led Zeppelin||$300 Million||UK|
|10||Justin Bieber||$261.4 Million||Canada|