Link to video of Top selling artists data by Qtr 1969-2019

This is a pretty interesting watch from early dominance by the Beatles and Elvis early on…


Fascinating! It is interesting to see their rise and fall off various artists, sometimes obviously coinciding with album releases. Also interesting to see the prolonged dominance of some at various times. And a strange affect when suddenly all that’s the top artists seem to drop in popularity as the top one must have truly dominated sales.

I know that my taste in music is narrow, disliking most ‘pop’ – so I was surprised to see some artists like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin not just get in there, but stay there for a while.

50 years of music shown in 10 minutes! But @Richard.Dane , could you perhaps amend the title as the OP’s typo makes it say if not of?

What a great video. Fascinating to watch. Is it worldwide sales or just US? I assume the latter.

Impressed at just how consistently well Elton John has featured right up until the turn of the millennium.

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Great video, i was doing all right until 2000, after that i have purchased none of the artists…getting old and a new generation of music buyers.

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Very interesting I get a weekly UK charts update not that I buy or listen to some of the new music but you can look up different genre charts.

It is quite surprising how many albums from the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Phil Collins, Abba, etc are in the top 100 and how many weeks they have been in the album charts.

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Whoever Drake is or are that may be true in USA, if this is US based data, while it doesn’t show Beatles pre 1969, but only at the very end of their life, with no indication of what the figures were like in mid 1960s.

According to Wikipedia, the best selling music artist of all time is claimed to be the Beatles, with over 500M. Drake trails at 163M

Interesting Elton is up there but no Bowie or Rod (from what I could see) even Bowie at the time of his death must have shifted some units.

Agreed, no Bowie seems strange, and only a very brief appearance from The Strolling Bones?

Shurely shome mishtake?

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I thought it was interesting how since roughly 2000 the artists come and go and move up and down really quickly compared to 70/80/90’s. Really shows how people just move from one thing to the next now.


I’ve seen this video before, and it is indeed fascinating.

For clarification, it’s just US data, hence the dominance of people like Garth Brooks and the Eagles, who mean relatively little outside the States.

People like Bowie and the Stones (as well as Dylan, Beach Boys etc) have, surprisingly, sold relatively few albums, although they did quite well as singles artists. By far and away Bowie’s biggest seller was Let’s Dance, which sold more copies than his previous six albums combined!

The best data that I can find, from the IFPI (International Federation of Phonographic Industries), show that the 10 biggest-selling groups and solo artists INTERNATIONALLY are as follows. Many of the numbers, pre-1976, are heavy on the guesswork, but still the list makes for interesting reading. Interestingly enough, if you ran longer lists (top 100, say), you would start seeing many more South Korean and Japanese artists – Japan is the world’s second-biggest music market, but all its most successful artists (like Korea’s) are mostly for domestic consumption. Numbers for India are too hard to even guess, but it seems reasonable to assume that were sales measurable, that its market would be equal to, or greater than that of the USA. Sales in India are dominated by film soundtracks and piracy is rife. They don’t have charts in India, either!

By the best rough estimates, both Elvis and The Beatles have sold around a billion physical units each.


  1. The Beatles
  2. Led Zeppelin
  3. Pink Floyd
  4. AC/DC
  5. Abba
  6. Queen
  7. Eagles
  8. Rolling Stones
  9. U2
  10. Aersosmith


  1. Elvis
  2. Michael Jackson
  3. Elton John
  4. Madonna
  5. Rhianna (!)
  6. Celine Dion
  7. Mariah Carey
  8. Eminem
  9. Garth Brooks
  10. Barbra Streisland

Interestingly, most published lists of the best-selling albums are taken from RIAA figures, which is why such lists are topped by Their Greatest Hits by The Eagles.

Using the available data from all the available international PI bodies, the 10 best-selling albums globally appear to be:

  1. Thriller - 70m copies
  2. Dark Side of the Moon - 55m
  3. Back In Black - 52m
  4. Bat Out of Hell - 50m
  5. The Bodyguard OST - 47m
  6. Bad - 45m
  7. Rumours - 45m
  8. Their Greatest Hits (Eagles) - 42m
  9. Saturday Night Fever OST - 40m
  10. Grease OST - 40m

After that, the next 10/20 places appear to be dominated by releases by the likes of Led Zep, Beatles, Garth Brooks, Springsteen, Floyd, Alanis Morisette, Metallica, Santana, Celine Dion, Guns & Roses, Mariah Carey, Backstreet Boys etc.


What ! no Chas N Dave ! criminal …


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