Top 10 Best Selling Artists of All Time Revealed

MUSIC FEATURE – Best selling artists

List of best-selling music artists – MARKMEETS | The Beatles · Elvis Presley · Michael Jackson · Elton John · Queen · Madonna · Led Zeppelin
Many of these discussions are opinion-based and lead to fun arguments, but listing out the best-selling artists of all time is fact-based. There’s no negotiating or convincing involved because we’ve tracked the numbers (for the most part).There are some older band and artist names listed here that won’t surprise you, but some of them will make you think “how in the world did they pull that off” and/or make you question the world’s taste in music. The speed at which some of the newcomers climbed this list is staggering.It’s interesting to cross-reference these artists with the top 10 richest musicians in the world because there’s not as much overlap as you’d expect. That’s partially due to exorbitant spending or lack of investment. But many of these artists got it right too, though figuring out which may surprise you. Let’s jump right into the list of the best-selling artists of all time

10 – Justin Bieber

Certified Sales: 261.4 million

Justin Bieber was discovered in 2007 by Scooter Braun, a record executive, as he was looking for another singer on YouTube and clicked on one of Bieber’s videos by accident! Braun convinced Bieber’s mother to take him to Atlanta where he signed for Usher’s record label RBMG (Raymond-Brown Media Group). The rest is history.

With 261.4 million albums sold to date, Justin Bieber is now a household name and one of the reigning kings of pop.

He released Purpose, his 4th studio album in 2015, which drew a wider audience than his primarily young fan base. The album’s first three tracks all charted number one on Billboard Hot 100. The success of this album paved the way for more collaborations with other artists. He addressed the challenges of growing up famous in his 2021 hit Lonely, with surprisingly deep and personal lyrics.

9 – Led Zeppelin

Claimed Sales: 300 million

Though Led Zeppelin worked in the blues-rock and folk-rock genres, they’re considered progenitors of heavy metal. That lets you know how much of a wide appeal they have. Their single Stairway to Heaven remains one of the most popular and influential songs in rock history.

Their tours broke records for attendance. Their albums are among the best-selling. All of their nine albums broke into the top 10 and six hit the number-one spot. Their legacy is monumental among fans and musicians alike. They’ve won all the awards. They deserve their spot on this list.

8 – Madonna

Claimed Sales: 300 million

Madonna had decades of pushing pop hits up the Billboard charts, each one further fueling her rise up this list. She’s one of the few artists that constantly reinvent her image and message to stay relevant or exciting. Perhaps more important than any of this is her constant touring, which is additional marketing.

Business activities that help promote her music are the fact that she’s a Golden Globe-winning actress, owner of Maverick Records, has authored a handful of children’s books, is a fashion designer, and owns several health clubs. In music, attention is a huge currency and Madonna knows how to get it.

7 – Elton John

Claimed Sales: 300 million

Elton John is an extremely talented songwriter, performer, and entertainer. His flamboyance is magnetic. Among his many successes, he holds the record for the best-selling single of all time in the UK and USA. He constantly tours and wins awards, but perhaps his work in movies such as The Lion King and the biopic about his life called Rocketman has continued to fuel his sales.

One awesome aspect of his career was his long residency (11 years so far) at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. You know that made him some serious cash. Billboard ranked him as the most successful male solo artist and 3rd place overall, only behind Madonna and The Beatles (both on this list). He’s released 30 studio albums, let alone his collaborations, greatest hits, and soundtracks.

6 – Eminem

Certified Sales: 321.4 million

Eminem’s initial role as an entertaining shock rapper quickly faded as people began to realize they were witnessing the evolution of one of the best rappers ever. His many controversies, beef with other artists, and connections with one of the best hip-hop producers in the game led to more and more sales as he maintained a steady release schedule.

Eventually, he began releasing and starring in movies, launched his own record label, Shady Records, and went on to earn 15 Grammy Awards. Nobody can deny the technical ability and raw entertainment value in the man’s music, which is the true explanation of how he launched himself up this list fairly quickly.

5 – Rihanna

Certified Sales: 328.5 million

Rihanna, like Madonna, is known for her artistic evolution, starting with Caribbean-influenced albums and moving into dance-pop, R&B, EDM, and hip-hop. It may come as a surprise because it all happened steadily over time, but she’s created or won 14 number-one singles, 31 top-ten singles, 9 Grammy Awards, 13 American Music Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, and more.

Rihanna has been on a hiatus, growing her cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty, her non-profit, and her fashion house. These will create more pent-up demand and excitement for her upcoming 9th studio album. She’s bridged into Hollywood and TV, starring in some major box office films.

4 – Drake

Certified Sales: 395.2 million

The Canadian superstar started his career circulating a mixtape in 2006, receiving a bit more than $300 for the 6,000 copies sold. His second and third mixtapes, released in 2007 and 2009, were both extremely successful leading to a unusual bidding war to sign him.

He is known for blurring the lines between rap music and more mainstream pop, giving him broad appeal and recognition. Like many other famous rappers, his business activities go well beyond music. He owns an entertainment group, a fashion brand and a spirits company producing a well known whiskey!

3 – Michael Jackson

Claimed Sales: 400 million

Nobody needs an introduction to Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. He’s easily the greatest entertainer of all time and one of the most influential humans of the 20th century. From the Jackson 5 to his solo career, he literally spent his entire life making some of the best music to ever be recorded, leading to him being the most-awarded musician of all time.

Jackson’s album Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time (if you don’t count the one greatest hits album that beats it). Before his run ended, his wealth was so staggering that he owned The Beatles catalog, was being sued and accused of everything under the sun constantly, and his concerts were spectacles the likes have never been achieved since..

2 – Elvis Presley

Claimed Sales: 500 million

Elvis Presley is similar to Michael Jackson in many ways. They called him the King of Rock and Roll and are also considered one of the most important cultural icons of the 20th century. His output was monumental, including 24 studio albums, 17 soundtracks, and starring in 33 Hollywood films in 25 years.

He holds the record for the most songs to chart in Billboard’s top 40 (115 songs) and their top 100 (152 songs). He has 25 multi-platinum records, and 101 gold albums (the all-time record). The man even has a spider named after him, the Paradonea presleyi. The upper bound of his sales estimates reaches 1 billion.

1 – The Beatles

Claimed Sales: 600 million

The Beatles were only acting as a band from 1960 to 1970, yet hold the clear lead as the best-selling artists of all time. If you add in their solo material, nobody will ever beat them. A huge part of their success was leading the “British Invasion” of British pop and rock into the United States. Their art evolved with each release as did their controversies.

They hold all the awards, have starred in films, broke many records, and one of their songs is the most covered ever. The Lennon-McCartney songwriting duo will likely never be topped. Beyond the pop appeal, they were truly some of the best musicians to ever walk the earth. They’re so good that kids these days think it’s cool to dislike them.

Worthy Runners Up: Who’s Almost a Best-Selling Artist of All Time?

What fun is only listing the top 10 when we can quickly tack on a handful of runners up? They’re so close to breaking into the main list that we have to do them justice by mentioning them. Below this we also another handful in a quick list so you can follow the rankings well into the 20s if you want.

Taylor Swift

Certified Sales: 237 million

Taylor Swift got started early, being professionally signed at age 14. Her narrative songs about her personal life were endearing but also created much media gossip which contributed to her popularity. She started off topping the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, ultimately bridging over to the pop charts. She’s won countless awards, including the Grammys Album of the Year.

She’s even been named Woman of the Decade and Artist of the Decade. For years on end, she’s been the highest-grossing artist. Her popularity seems to be waning a bit while she’s trying to break into Hollywood and started speaking up about politics, but these mistakes don’t erase her unbelievable history in music, which she’ll undoubtedly focus on again.

Pink Floyd

Claimed Sales: 250 million

Pink Floyd had a strong start in 1967 with their first album while being led by Syd Barrett. Later when David Gilmour joined they exploded even further, becoming an international sensation. Interestingly, they only had two singles to ever enter the top 10 in the US or UK, though they had four albums top both charts.

They’ve had a six-decade run, plenty of time to establish themselves as one of the best bands ever over the course of 15 albums. To top it off, they even composed a handful of scores for some lesser-known films. Two of their albums, The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall are among the top-selling albums of all time.

Mariah Carey

Claimed Sales: 220 million

Mariah Carey is known as the Songbird Supreme for good reason. She has an unbelievable five-octave vocal range and can reach the whistle register, which very few can do. From her very first album, she’s been breaking records and consistently winning with every release. Funnily, a huge part of her success has been her main Christmas single running up the charts year after year.

Many music companies and fans all consider her to be the greatest voice in music ever. Her sales prove it. She holds the record for the number-one singles by a solo artist. Her first 5 singles all reached number one on the charts. And her first album topped the charts for 11 consecutive weeks. Not much has changed since then!

The Eagles

Claimed Sales: 200 million

In an original 9 year run starting in 1971, The Eagles made an incredible impact. All of their albums had several high-performing singles but rarely reached the number-one spot. But their consistency has led to their greatest hits album is the highest-selling album of all time, with their album Hotel California being the third best-selling.

In 1994, they reformed and released an album with new material and live recordings, released a documentary, and started a huge tour, so it only stands that they’ll continue to push their sales further. Their blend of R&B, soul, bluegrass, and rock reached the masses and continues to touch hearts and minds today.


Claimed Sales: 200 million

Queen will undoubtedly keep climbing the list. They started in 1970 and are still creating music and touring today, albeit with a new vocalist. Freddy Mercury was a huge part of their success, but their new singers are great as well. Their pop-rock and arena rock music is well-received, so much so that many of us are coming to dislike some of their most popular songs since they still get played too much.

Their songs are so powerful that they’ve become go-to anthems for fans in sports stadiums. They’ve won all the awards, done some of the best movie soundtracks ever (like for the awesome Flash Gordon film and Highlander), and have had a biographical movie created about the band. That’s when you know you’ve hit the big time.

Whitney Houston

Claimed Sales: 200 million

Whiney Houston remains the most awarded female artist of all time. She’s the first and only musician to have 7 singles in a row all reaching number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Her transition into acting was a great move because she also created the soundtrack for The Bodyguard which is one of the best-selling records of all time.

Like others, she was given an honorific nickname or two, known as The Voice in the music industry and sometimes the Queen of Pop. She’s in pretty much every list of the best singers ever and her pleasant mezzo-soprano range doesn’t hurt. She’s probably named as an influence by other artists more than anyone else, too.

Honorable Mentions for the Best-Selling Artists of All Time

There are so many great artists on this list that we just didn’t feel right capping it off without providing a quick run-down of another grouping who are all really close to breaking into the top 10 (and some most likely will over time). I’m sure you can guess which will do it:

  • Celine Dion is a wonderful Pop vocalist who’s achieved 136.8 million certified sales thus far.
  • AC/DC has reached 128.3 million sales thanks to its wide audience in the Hard Rock and Blues Rock genres.
  • The Rolling Stones also work in the Rock and Blues Rock genres, pushing 102.4 million certified units thus far.
  • Garth Brooks is a Country mega-star, proving his mass appeal by reaching 165.3 million units sold.
  • Ed Sheeran is the British Pop and Folk Popstar that took the world by storm, helping him sell 240 million units.
  • Billy Joel has been in the music industry for decades in the Pop and Rock genres, reaching 134.3 million sales and going on countless tours.
  • U2 are the arena Rock giants that put on an amazing show, and that has led them to reach 114.5 million certified units sold.
  • Ye (Kanye West) is currently the richer musician alive thank to his huge business success, but he has also managed to sell an incredible 245.5 million units.

Following the list any further than this gets less interesting, especially since the names become less well known and they have such a long way to go to crack into even the top 20, so we’ll stop there. I hope they can do it though since a little shake-up is always fun news.

The crazy thing about all of this are these are either bands with real musical skill or vocalists that, to be frank, aren’t remotely on the same level of talent as the others. They don’t even qualify as one of the top 10 best singers of all time, but they’re getting all of the sales, fame, and money. What a world we live in.

Top 10 Best-Selling Artists of All Time (2022)

This is the table for the top 10 best-selling artists in the World, containing the names, net worth, and nationality.

Position Artist Sales Nationality
1 The Beatles $600 Million UK
2 Elvis Presley $500 Million USA
3 Michael Jackson $400 Million USA
4 Drake $395.2 Million Canada, USA
5 Rihanna $328.5 Barbados, USA
6 Eminem $321.4 Million USA
7 Elton John $300 Million UK
8 Madonna $300 Million USA
9 Led Zeppelin $300 Million UK
10 Justin Bieber $261.4 Million Canada
Certification databases are not able to cover all sales for older artists, we therefore use Claimed Sales when relevant

Author Profile

Stevie Flavio
Film Writer


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