The world has given us numerous great musician who has broken many records in their career. There are plenty of lists out there ranking the best-selling music artists of all time. They all got their own methods to count the certified units. The lists by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is regarded as one of the most prestigious and accurate. The list by Wikipedia shows claimed sales figure and the total of certified units worldwide. They include sales of albums, singles, compilation-albums, music videos as well as downloads of singles and full-length albums. We’ve listed both the list by Wikipedia and RIAA by certified units down below-
1. The Beatles- Certified units: 278.2 million
On both lists, English rock band is on top. The Beatles formed in 1960 in Liverpool. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr together formed a band that is known as the most influential band of all time. They pioneered recording techniques and drew influences from a variety of cultural sources. They won the 1971 Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for the movie Let It Be. They claimed to have sold 600 million- 500 million units worldwide. They have received seven Grammy Awards, fifteen Ivor Novello Awards, and they have 6 Diamond albums. It is estimated that they have sold more than 800 million physical and digital albums. People celebrate the World Beatles Day under UNESCO on 16 January.
2. Elvis Presley- Certified units: 225.2 million
One of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, Elvis Presley has sold 225.2 million certified units according to Wikipedia. Persley’s music career began in 1954 in Memphis, Tennessee. Persley was joined by lead guitarist Scotty Moore, drummer D. J. Fontana and bassist Bill Black. He remains the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music. Persley claimed to have sold 600 million – 500 million units.
3. Michael Jackson- Certified units: 231.6 million
One of the greatest entertainers in history, Michael Jackson remained a global figure in popular culture for over four decades. He made his debut in 1964 with the Jackson 5. He began his solo career in 1971 and music videos are credited with breaking racial barriers and even bringing the popular MTV channel to fame. His album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time, he holds Guinness world records for the Most Successful Entertainer of All Time. He has achieved more awards than any other artist in the history of popular music.
4. Madonna- Certified units: 173.6 million
Known for pushing the boundaries, Madonna is one of the most influential female artists in history. She was born and raised in Michigan and signed with Sire Records in 1982. She even earned praises for her acting chops especially the movie Evita which earned her a Golden Globe. She holds the record for the best-selling female recording artist of all time by Guinness World Records.
5. Elton John- Certified units: 185.5 million
English singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer, Sir Elton Hercules John has sold 185.5 million certified units worldwide. He is estimated to have sold more than 300 million records making him one of the world’s best-selling music artists. His tribute single written in dedication to Princess Diana sold over 33 million copies worldwide. It is considered the best-selling single in the history of the UK and US singles charts.
6. Led Zeppelin- Certified units: 140.2 million
Led Zeppelin formed in London in 1968 which included vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist John Paul Jones, drummer John Bonham and Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. They are often regarded as one of the originators of heavy metal.
7. Rihanna- Certified units: 269.9 million
Barbadian singer, Robyn Rihanna Fenty is known for embracing various musical styles. Her albums Music of the Sun (2005) and A Girl like Me (2006) put her into the limelight. The single “Umbrella” earned Rihanna her first Grammy Award and international recognition. She has six Guinness World Records on her and she has been named one of the most influential artists in the industry.
8. Eminem- Certified units: 227.1 million
Marshall Bruce Mathers III aka Eminem is one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time. Eminem was a member of the hip hop group D12 in addition to his solo career. Eminem gained his popularity after his debut album Infinite (1996) and the extended play Slim Shady EP (1997) in 1999. Eminem is the first artist to win the Best Rap Album Grammy Awards for three consecutive LPs. He has also won an Academy Award for Best Original for “Lose Yourself”. He is the only artist to achieve nine number-one albums on the Billboard 200.
9. Taylor Swift- Certified units: 204.4 million
Taylor Swift is best known for her lyrics that reflect her personal life and experiences. After signing with Big Machine Records, Swift became the youngest artist signed by the Sony/ATV Music publishing house. Her debut album was the longest-charting album of the 2000s in the U.S while its third single “Our Song”, made her the youngest person to single-handedly write and perform a song that went number-one on the Hot Country Songs chart. She is the first woman and fifth act overall to win Album of the Year twice.
10. Eagles- Certified units: 149.6 million
Formed in Los Angeles in 1971, Eagles was founded by Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner. They were one of the most successful musical acts of the 1970s. The Eagles are estimated to have sold more than 200 million records. They were included into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
According to RIAA, the best selling (Certified Units) artists are –
1 The Beatles- 183 M
2 Garth Brooks- 148 M
3 Elvis Presley- 146.5 M
4 Eagles- 120 M
5 Led Zeppelin- 111.5 M
6 Billy Joel- 84.5 M
7 Michael Jackson- 84 M
8 Elton John- 78.5 M
9 Pink Floyd- 75 M
10 AC/DC- 72 M