Who are the best-selling music artists of all time? One of the beauties of music is that it comes in many shapes and forms, but there are some musicians who just about everyone loves. Who are they and what do their sales figures look like? Take a look at the list below, and consider checking out a few of their songs for yourself. All numbers below are quantified in terms of certified units sold, coming from the RIAA.
25. Neil Diamond – 49.5 Million Units Sold
Neil Diamond is an American singer and songwriter and is one of the most recognizable musicians in the world. He was born in 1941, but despite being 81 years old, he still performs for large crowds. Even though he has had a number of major hits, his most recognizable song is, undoubtedly, Sweet Caroline.
24. U2 – 52 Million Units Sold
U2 is an Irish rock band that was formed in 1976 in Dublin, Ireland. They are a rock and roll group with a popular sound that has made them famous worldwide, but their longevity is what is most impressive. The lead singer is Bono, who is also known for his charity work worldwide. The band has a number of popular songs, but its most recognizable one is Beautiful Day.
23. Céline Dion – 53 Million Units Sold
Céline Dion is a Canadian singer and songwriter. She was born in 1968 and has become a pop music and fashion icon. She redefined the genre of music with a unique, lyrical sound that is instantly recognizable all over the world. Even though she has had a litany of number-one hits, her most popular song is My Heart Will Go On, which was the anthem for the 1996 film Titanic, directed by James Cameron; this was the best-selling movie of all time when it was released.
22. Fleetwood Mac – 54.5 Million Units Sold
Fleetwood Mac is a rock band formed in 1967 with a mixture of British and American members. They are unique in that just about every member of the group eventually went on to enjoy a successful solo career as well. One of the most popular members is Stevie Nicks, who also released a popular solo song, Edge Of Seventeen. Even though there are plenty of hits from which to choose, perhaps the most recognizable track of the group is Go Your Own Way.
21. Van Halen – 56.5 Million Units Sold
Van Halen is an American rock band that was formed in 1972. They are known for their energizing lyrics and impressive live performances, and Eddie Van Halen went on to enjoy a successful solo career as well. The group continues to be one of the most popular rock bands worldwide, and one of their top hits is Jump, which is unique in that it didn’t sound much like most of the other tracks the band released.
20. Whitney Houston – 60 Million Units Sold
Whitney Houston was arguably the most talented female singer of all time. She was known for her powerful voice that would captivate everyone in the room. Even though she had her struggles with Bobby Brown throughout the years, she served as an inspiration to countless female singers who came after her. Some of her most popular songs include How Will I Know, One Moment In Time, and I’m Every Woman. Perhaps her most recognizable anthem is I Will Always Love You, which was a cover of the original Dolly Parton version.
19. Eminem – 61.5 Million Units Sold
Eminem is the stage name of Marshall Bruce Mathers III, an American rapper and record producer. He was most popular during the 1990s and 2000s, but he still does concerts today. His lyrics are easily relatable, making him widely popular. He also goes by the name Slim Shady, and some of his most popular songs include Lose Yourself and Without Me.
18. Metallica – 63 Million Units Sold
Metallica is arguably the definition of heavy metal. The band was formed in 1981, and it is known for its energetic concerts. They have been signed to labels such as Megaforce, Elektra, and Warner Brothers. They have a number of instantly recognizable songs, but one of the most popular ones is Enter Sandman.
17. Madonna – 64.5 Million Units Sold
Madonna has enjoyed one of the longest careers of any female singer. She was born in 1958 and has been active in the industry for more than 40 years. In addition to a successful career as a singer, she has become a style and fashion icon. He burst onto the scene with hits such as Material Girl and Like A Virgin and continued to turn heads with songs such as Like A Prayer and Vogue.
16. The Rolling Stones – 66.5 Million Units Sold
The Rolling Stones is an English rock band that was formed in London in 1962. They have been active for more than six decades, and they persist as one of the most popular rock bands of all time. They have been signed to a number of record labels over the years, including their own. They were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. While there are countless recognizable songs to list, the most popular one is arguably Paint It, Black.
15. Barbra Streisand – 68.5 Million Units Sold
Barbra Streisand is an American singer and actress who has enjoyed a career that has lasted more than 60 years. She is known for movies such as A Star Is Born and Meet The Fockers, but her first career was as a singer. She is known for albums such as Guilty and The Barbra Streisand, and she has served as an inspiration for countless young singers and actresses who have followed in her footsteps.
14. George Strait – 69 Million Units Sold
George Strait is one of the most popular American country music artists of all time. Born in 1952, he started singing and playing the guitar at a young age. He continues to tour and perform to this day, consistently selling out arenas all over the world. Some of his most popular songs include Troubadour and I Cross My Heart.
13. Aerosmith – 69.5 Million Units Sold
Aerosmith is an American rock band that was formed in 1970. Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, they still perform to this day. Led by singer Steven Tyler, they have been signed to a number of record labels over the years, including Columbia Records and Geffen Records. They have had a litany of hits, but arguably, the most recognizable song is I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing. They are also known for one of its most popular early tracks, Dream On.
12. Bruce Springsteen – 71 Million Units Sold
Bruce Springsteen is an American singer and songwriter. He has released more than 20 studio albums, and he frequently travels with his E Street Band. He was born in 1949 and has been active in the industry for more than 50 years. He continues to perform to this day, and his most popular track is Born In The U.S.A., which is widely believed to be a protest song to argue against US citizens being drafted to fight the Vietnam War.
11. Mariah Carey – 72 Million Units Sold
Mariah Carey is an American singer and songwriter who is known for her impressive vocal range. Arguably, her voice spans more than half the length of an entire piano, and she consistently shows off her vocal range during live performances. She has been active since the 1990s, and her songs are known worldwide. Arguably, her most popular track is the Christmas anthem, All I Want For Christmas Is You, but she is also known for tunes such as Always Be My Baby.
10. Pink Floyd – 75 Million Units Sold
Pink Floyd is an English rock band that was formed in London in 1965. The band quickly gained a popular following, as it was one of the first psychedelic groups of the era. They were active until 2014 and are known for songs such as Dogs and Wish You Were Here.
9. AC/DC – 75 Million Units Sold
AC/DC is an Australian rock band that was formed in Sydney in 1973. They are known for their energizing lyrics and powerful music. They continue to tour to this day and are known for songs such as You Shook Me All Night Long and Highway To Hell.
8. Elton John – 79 Million Units Sold
Elton John is instantly recognizable all over the world, recently enjoying his farewell tour. His nickname is Rocket Man, after his hit single of the same name. He has been active since the 1970s and has released a total of 31 albums. Some of his most popular songs include Candle In The Wind, Yellow Brick Road, and Tiny Dancer. He also did the music for the popular Disney movie, The Lion King.
7. Billy Joel – 86 Million Units Sold
Billy Joel is an American singer and performer, nicknamed Piano Man after his popular single. He has been active for more than five decades and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. Some of his most popular songs include We Didn’t Start The Fire and Piano Man.
6. Michael Jackson – 89 Million Units Sold
Michael Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. His nickname was The King of Pop, and he was arguably the quintessential entertainer. He passed away in 2009, but his long list of hits will live on. He put on arguably the best Super Bowl halftime show in history, and his album Thriller is one of the most successful of all time. Some of his most popular hits include Thriller, Smooth Criminal, Beat It, and Billie Jean.
5. Led Zeppelin – 112.5 Million Units Sold
Led Zeppelin was an English rock band that formed in London in 1968 and was active until 2017. They were known for their relatable lyrics and powerful performance style, and many of their songs are still played and performed by bands all over the world. Arguably the most popular track is Stairway To Heaven.
4. Eagles – 120 Million Units Sold
The Eagles are an American rock band that was formed in 1971. Based in Los Angeles, they are known for their relaxing, easy-listening music style. They have often been described as soft rock and are still performing to this day. Their most popular song is Hotel California, which is known for its exceptionally long guitar solo that is recognizable everywhere.
3. Elvis Presley – 146.5 Million Units Sold
Elvis Presley was called The King of Rock and Roll, and his revolutionary performing style completely changed the way music was produced. He launched his entertainment career in 1953, and he remains the subject of numerous conspiracy theories regarding his death. He served as an inspiration to countless rock and roll performers who came after him, and his songs are still continuously played to this day. Arguably, his most popular track is Can’t Help Falling in Love.
2. Garth Brooks – 157 Million Units Sold
Garth Brooks is an American country music singer who has been active for more than four decades. He is one of the most successful country music artists of all time, and he continues to tour today. He does an exceptional job of bringing pop and rock elements into his country music, which makes his music endearing to fans all over the world. Arguably, his most popular song is Friends In Low Places, released in 1990.
1. The Beatles – 183 Million Units Sold
It should come as no surprise that The Beatles are at the top of the list. They were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960 and have arguably redefined music as a whole. The members include John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They are widely listed as the most influential rock band ever, and they drove the counterculture movement that took place in the music industry during the 1960s and 1970s.
The group is recognizable all over the world, and it has spawned countless tribute bands. Their songs are still played constantly, and some of their most popular tracks include Let It Be, Hey Jude, Come Together, and Here Comes The Sun.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.