The 250 Best-Selling Musicians of All Time



Platinum sales certifications and rankings for the 250 best-selling musicians compiled by the Recording Industry of America (RIAA).  Platinum indicates sales of one million or more units. 

38 Responses

  1. Mr. Metadata

    Petty, Tom and the Heartbreakers are so much better than Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Just sayin.

    • Harvey

      But not quite as good as Petty, Tom.

      118. Petty, Tom

      125. Petty, Tom & the Heartbreakers

      217. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

  2. stevecorn

    Boston outsold Jay-Z?? I wouldn’t have guessed that considering how much longer Jay-Z has been active.

  3. DC

    Id be interested to see which artist(besides the obvious) actually made fair money off the record deals involving these high sales.

  4. Tim Wood

    How about average sales/title? Some artists fairly high on this list, like Hendrix and Nirvana, got their numbers with a handful of releases. +1 to Metadata’s point…. dirty data does delusions dirt cheap.

  5. paulysworld

    Um, FOTR Alanis Morrisette, “Jagged Little Pill”, yeah, that was 33 million copies on its own. The follow up “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie” yeah that sold 5 million copies, that’s 38 million physical copies of 2 records, about 18 million more then reported in this article. Who wrote this article? Did they do any research?

    • CREED!

      JLP did not sell 33MM in the US. It’s currently at 15MM RTD, per Soundscan.

      • Rick foster

        I didn’t see where they said this was only US sales. I think they really should double check their totals and try again.

    • Rick foster

      Thriller sold 110M copies, but Jackson, Micheal sold only 76M? Someone’s not pulling the data correctly.

  6. Mike C.

    I counted just 3 artists that started careers after 2005: Taylor Swift, Adele, and Rascal Flatts. Doubt we’ll see another artist from later than ’05 crack this list, ever.

  7. Steve M

    Poison at #170 is very interesting. I’m also surprised to see that Lenny Kravitz barely scraped his way into this list in the 10 million zone.

  8. Brian

    From Wikipedia:

    “The Grateful Dead have sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.”

    Not gonna sell me on Brandy or Scorpions moving more units than the Dead.

  9. anonymous

    Jefferson Airplane and Starship are combined


    Petty, Tom (118)
    Petty, Tom and the Heartbreakers (125)
    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (217)

    Are THREE separate acts?

  10. MeToo

    Not much surprise with this list. I wonder over any time frame will any group surpass The Beatles…as a group. Individual artist such as John Lennon and George Harrison are no longer with us. Noting their location and Paul McCartney, It’s a no brainer that, as a group, were better songwriters due to their collective collaboration.

  11. JJD Pro

    This list is booty!! Michael is thee all time selling artist. With Thriller alone!! This list does not take into the account for world wide sales.. But, I guess MJ is still number #1 ( due to the fact) he still owns the beetles songs..

  12. TruthBeTold

    This list is far from accurate. Just a simple example, it is missing a lot of Latin artists like Julio Iglesias (has over 300 million verified albums sold), Enrique Iglesias and Shakira, who for some odd (or maybe not so odd) reason are non-existent on the list.

  13. David

    Kiss anyone? Not only have they sold well over 100 million units worldwide but their certifiable US numbers are 28.5 million with 16 certified platinum albums.

    • Chris Dunnett

      I was JUST about to say the same thing…KISS has sold over 100 million…not sure of the validity of this article???

  14. Markie

    Why is David Bowie not on this list? He’s sold over 140 million records over his almost 50 year career.

  15. Sean

    America is getting dumb. This is US Sales and most inaccurate chart anyways .RIAA goes by units not actually sales.So double albums counted twice a 6 CD box set that sales 2 million will be 12 million.Go by Sounds can though they only start from 1991. Listen worldwide sales are a shame,US is the only huge music market if an album sales 29 million here the best it’s doing is 4 million in second biggest market the UK cuz Adele holds that record.Its like Deep Purple selling 9 million in US but claim 100 million worldwide,stfu. If you go by actual certificates we will use actual Led Zeppelin sales counting double albums and box sets has one in the US theyve sold 84 million. Adding actually certification they’ve sold bout 109 million worldwide no Latin act outselling Beatles or Zeppelin worldwide stfu they barely sale to a US market and platnium in Mexico is like 35,000. This Why this above list stupid has a Kid Rock fan

    DWAC- 10.6 million sold riaa say 11
    History-3.2 million riaa says 2
    Cocky-5.7 million riaa says 5
    KRock-1.5 million riaa says 1
    LTrucker-700 k riaa doesn’t have it gold
    RNRJ- 3.6 million riaa says 3
    BFree-1.2 million riaa says 1
    RSoul- 650 k riaa says gold
    FKiss-375 k

    Actual Sales-just over 27 million
    RIAA says 23.5


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