The 50 best-selling music artists of all time

  • The best-selling musicians of all time include pop sensations like Taylor Swift, rock legends like Metallica, and rap stars like Eminem.
  • We ranked the best-selling musicians of all time based on their total certified album units sold in the US according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

 

Six weeks after Taylor Swift dropped her surprise album "Folklore," it's still No. 1 on the Billboard album chart. It's the longest streak for an album since Drake's "Views" in 2016.

It shows Swift's popularity with audiences, but the pop star isn't the highest-selling music artist ever. We turned to the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) list to find out who is. The list is based on total certified album units sold in the US (including streaming figures).

Swift has, however, jumped ahead of Bob Seger and Guns n' Roses since "Folklore" debuted.

England's greatest rock band holds the top spot on this all-time ranking of best-selling artists by album sales, and it looks untouchable on a list filled with a number of surprising appearances.

It's somewhat shocking to find out, for instance, that smooth-jazz saxophonist Kenny G has sold more albums than Eminem, and that country star Garth Brooks has sold more than Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. 

John Lynch contributed to a previous version of this post. 

Check out the 50 best-selling music artists of all time by album sales: 

50. Dave Matthews Band — 34.5 million units

49. Britney Spears — 34.5 million units

48. Bon Jovi — 34.5 million units

47. Queen — 35 million units

46. Def Leppard — 35.5 million units

45. Bob Dylan — 36 million units

44. Tupac Shakur — 36.5 million units

43. Backstreet Boys — 37 million units

42. Tim McGraw — 37.5 million units

41. Rod Stewart — 38 million units

40. Foreigner — 38 million units

39. Simon & Garfunkel — 38.5 million units

38. Chicago — 38.5 million units

37. Eric Clapton — 40 million units

36. Reba McEntire — 41 million units

35. Santana — 43.5 million units

34. Alan Jackson — 43.5 million units

33. Guns N' Roses — 44.5 million units

32. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band — 44.5 million units

31. Taylor Swift — 45 million units

30. Eminem — 46.5 million units

29. Alabama — 46.5 million units

28. Kenny Rogers — 47.5 million units

27. Shania Twain — 48 million units

26. Kenny G — 48 million units

25. Journey — 48 million units

24. Neil Diamond — 49.5 million units

23. Celine Dion — 50 million units

22. U2 — 52 million units

21. Fleetwood Mac — 54.5 million units

20. Van Halen — 56.5 million units

19. Whitney Houston — 59 million units

18. Metallica — 63 million units

17. Madonna — 64.5 million units

16. Bruce Springsteen — 65.5 million units

15. The Rolling Stones — 66.5 million units

14. Mariah Carey — 66.5 million units

13. Aerosmith — 66.5 million units

12. Barbra Streisand — 68.5 million units

11. George Strait — 69 million units

10. Pink Floyd — 75 million units

9. AC/DC — 75 million units

8. Elton John — 79 million units

7. Michael Jackson — 84 million units

6. Billy Joel — 84.5 million units

5. Led Zeppelin — 111.5 million units

4. Eagles — 120 million units

3. Elvis Presley — 146.5 million units

2. Garth Brooks — 156 million units

1. The Beatles — 183 million units


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