List of best-selling music artists  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

This list documents the world's best-selling music artists alphabetically as well as by record sales. This information cannot be listed officially, as there is no organization that has recorded global music sales. This page lists those artists who have had claims of over 50 million or more records in sales. The list is divided into numerous record-sales brackets within each of which, artists are listed in alphabetical order, rather than by number of records sold. The artists on the list are supported by third-party reliable sources, the sales-figures within which should represent a total number of sold albums, singles, compilation-albums, music videos as well as downloads of singles and full-length albums. Even though, the sales-figures within articles published by reliable sources may not be 100 percent accurate, it is highly recommended to submit articles released only by prominent news services as well as major record companies to avoid inflated and poorly studied worldwide sales-figures.



Although the criteria for the following list are intended to be expansive (including comparisons for total-sales for all recording artists) there are certain limitations and constraints that may limit the conclusions that can be derived from these data.

Such constraints include:

  • Bias towards acts who have had success in a specific country or region.
  • Bias towards older artists. There is a broader genre spectrum of music to listen to now which limits the number of listeners.
  • Bias towards modern artists. Comparatively fewer successful pre-modern artists will have sold more records, as both global spending power and population have increased. In 1950, the world's population was 2.5 billion; by 2000 it had risen to 6 billion. Also, older artists suffer from bias as their record sales are less likely to have been accurately tracked, and estimates of their early sales are likely to be more vague.
  • Fan sites, press articles and record labels have been known to inflate record sales claims.
  • Inflated claims for artists who performed in different acts during their careers. Sometimes all of the sales data is attributed to an individual artist. For the purposes of this list, an effort is made to separate the individual acts (e.g., the sales figures for The Beatles and Paul McCartney & Wings are mutually exclusive).
  • Inconsistencies between the sources of the various statistics. For example in some cases world sales are compared to US (RIAA certifies US sales only).

Artists by reputed sales

1 billion records or more

Artist Country Period Genre Estimated sales Source
The Beatles United Kingdom 1960-1970 Rock / Pop rock 1 billion +
Elvis Presley United States 1953–1977 Rock and Roll / Pop 1 billion +

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "List of best-selling music artists" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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