Best selling artists, albums and singles of all-time

It has been over 2 years since I introduced to you the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept, nicknamed CSPC, in March 2016. This revolutionary concept enables to define accurately the most successful artists ever. During this timeframe I, with the precious help of Hernan Lopez and Anthony Blanchard, studied nearly 100 artists, 1,000 albums plus countless singles and stand-alone tracks worth a gigantic 8,5 billion equivalent album sales combined!

Many of you praised the effort and the ongoing results which really makes us feel great about the website. One recurrent negative feedback though has been the difficulty to navigate the blog. One unique, cross-artist source of data was needed. While I can advise you to use the search function at the top-right, which works really well, an article grouping together the main data is definitely a positive improvement. So, here it is, please say hi to the Data Collector!

This article lists various rankings, with more added frequently, please see the summary on page 2. Top selling singles / albums / artists, per format, per year, per artist type, etc… everything is possible!

Thanks to this Data Collector it isn’t necessary anymore to repeat the comprehensive rankings at the end of each article. It will solve an issue by removing some pages and letting you reach always the same final pages for all acts – CSPC totals, the artist’s singles ranking and their records & achievements. This article will be kept updated which will also prevent us from having lists updated at different moments here and there.

Anthony will handle the updates of this thread from now on and try to answer your questions the best he can. We won’t be answering to lists requests on comments though as it will be impossible to maintain them. Instead, when you request something, and if it is relevant for many people, we will add a page to the article with the said list.

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Shubham shah

Update ariana grande sales please

John Scoone

This is a great list, even though I wouldn’t completely agree with it. It’s based on sales, so I get that, but The Sounds of Silence at #8? Uhhh, (politely) NOOOOO. Lots of other examples. I would have to say as a general comment that some songs are too highly rated because they were part of a great album, and that album buyers want to see several good songs before they make a purchase, otherwise they just buy the single. In this respect, Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac, way overrated here. What about Dreams, Don’t Stop, and just… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by John Scoone
Clockingbell

It’s the result of the CSPC method, which is a fairly precise way of looking at the total popularity of an artist. When it’s pushed to measure the popularity of an individual album or song, I think it’s less valuable, though it’s fun to see.

MJD

Hi John! I think there are two errors there. The first is the confusion between general public penetration and success, the second is gauging songs’ successes with current popularity rather than release to date data. A good example is Black Magic Woman vs Smooth. The latter has been bigger upon release, and remains bigger now although the gap isn’t that big (206m vs 121m streams). If we apply the CSPC method from 2000 to date, we will obviously conclude that Smooth powered more records’ sales than Black Magic Woman. But this is forgetting the massive head start that BMW had.… Read more »

Clockingbell

For the top positions, there’s maybe not much difference, but that happens lots of times in the list: Journey, Police, Bryan Adams are more favored than Beatles or Michael Jackson, so that makes the list curious to say the least, doesn’t it?

MJD

Hi Clockingbell! I don’t think it’s a major issue even lower down the list, it also reflects a reality: a big hit from an artist with few hits will remain the signature song that keeps getting airplay forever, for artists with 30-50 hits many are forgotten as years pass simply because radios can’t play them all, and the ones which face well the test of time their popularity is still diluted among them. Among the ones you mention, Every Breath You Take has more recurrent airplay in the US than all songs from Thriller and Bad, combined! (Everything I Do)… Read more »

Clockingbell

Thanks for answering, you make some fair points. But as the majority of the top songs’ sales are built up by album sales (and no airplay), it still seems a system way favorable to one-hit wonders (or some-hit – but on different albums – wonders). Well, maybe that’s a reality, too, of course. Still appreciate your site and effort, though!

Clockingbell

Sorry to bring this up again, but I saw this difference between MHWGO and IWALY: the latter outsells the former by a considerable margin in physical and digital sales, and is more streamed in their articles (half a year apart, don’t know their numbers now, but that should be irrelevant). Yet MHWGO is way higher (almost doubling the total) EAS-wise because of album sales (two, of course) and that’s because of the maths in the system: because the album sales are hardly shared with other songs, whereas MHWGO has more competition on its parent album. It’s not a matter of… Read more »

A S

Hey editors, can you guys please make a list of the best-selling albums, including compilations, greatest hits albums, live albums, and box sets.

A.B.

Worldwide Apple Music Song Chart Artist Totals – are they included in CSPC numbers ?

A.B.

1B streams across different platforms combined, how many +- EAS it would be ? Thank you

Dan

The ratio is different between platforms.

A.B.

that doesn’t answer my question
1B YT +-
1B Spotify +-
How many EAS +- ?

Last edited 1 month ago by A.B.
p0isonparadise

YT – 85k
Spotify – 666k

Michael440

Is the Spotify tool not working?

Martin

No, it’s working, I just ran a few searches and they all came out fine.

Fanofpop

But the cspc is not updating

Fanofpop

Never mind it edited sorry

Alex

Is this list updated?

ojd

Does anyone the biggest album by a male solo act from 1988 and also 1994?

Last edited 1 month ago by ojd
Martin

Dangerous by Jackson.

ojd

Oh no sorry I should have phrased my question better.

I didn’t mean in between 1988-1994, rather the biggest album of 1988 and the biggest album of 1994

Martin

Without checking, I’d say biggest of 1988 was George Michaels Faith and biggest of 1994, was Elton Johns Lion King.

ojd

was Faith not released in 1987?

Martin

Yes but you said biggest album of 1988 and 1994 lol

From 1988, I’d probably say Bobby Browns Don’t Be Cruel, but like Michaels Faith (bigger in 88 than 87), it was bigger in 89 than 88.

Last edited 1 month ago by Martin
Analord

The Lion King isn’t really an Elton John album though… For 1994 I would say Kenny G’s Miracles, although there’s a Garth Brooks compilation that sold about the same.

Martin

I think all three mentioned are slightly contentious, as in my opinion none are really what you’d class as a bona fide studio album.

John: True although he contributes as much, if not more to it, than Houston did to The Bodyguard, co-writing 5 tracks, that make up 8 out of the 12 tracks and performing 3.

Kenny G: Basically a covers album, with two co-writing credits

Brooks: Obviously a Greatest Hits and not a studio album.

Analord

A covers album is not a studio album ? Not sure what you mean there…

And do you think The Bodyguard soundtrack shouldn’t be considered a Whitney Houston album ?

Martin

Not really, to the covers album. I kind of see them as an inbetween project, christmas album etc, between proper studio albums, with new material. I know they are classed as studio albums but for me, say Rod Stewarts American Songbook albums are not really the same as say Every Picture Tells A Story. As for the Bodyguard, I accept that it generally is credited to her, given she played the lead role in the film and her tracks were the singles that led to it’s success but like Elton and The Lion King, other artists performed the majority of… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Martin
Jason

If an artists sings over half songs on the soundtrack, it’s considered the artists album. That’s what billboard says. That’s why the Bodyguard is classed as a WH album, while Lion King is not an EJ album.

Martin

From what I can see, there are 13 tracks on the Bodyguard soundtrack and she only sings on 6 of them.

Still, regardless of how Billboard see it, I don’t view it as her soundtrack.

Jason

Well, I can see why you don’t view it as hers, but most people, including MJD do view it as such, as he credited her fully for it in her sales, so I view it as hers too.

Martin

I fully appreciate, that she and her songs are the reasons behind the soundtracks sales and success and thus, understand why people choose to accredit the soundtrack to her but in reality, it is a various artists soundtrack, with her taking lead on 6 of the 13 tracks!

Kris

In all fairness, Billboard is just one publication and their methods don’t represent what everyone thinks, or what is necessarily right for all purposes. They make their decision because they have to classify things for their charts; others, like people here, aren’t talking about Billboard charts all the time and can have other methods of doing things.

Mika Koskinen

Best selling artists on Discogs. Most profilic artists every genre.

Bob Dylan 339 515 items ( 1. ) and 10040 writing and arrangement ( 1. ).

John Lennon 133 534 items.
Paul McCartney 191 351 items.
Beatles 140 013 items.
Rolling Stones 125 899 items.
Keith Richard 74981 items.
Queen 78 969 items.
Madonna 112 527 items.
Michael Jackson 136 200 items.
Irving Berlin 173 180 items.
Mozart 262 167 items.
Bach 268 866 items.
Elvis Presley 190 544 items, leiber and stoller ?? Elvis didn’t write any songs. Some mistakes.

Mikko

Today Forbes announced Paul Simon’s deal worth. He also sold his catalogue’s publishment rights. Deal was disclosed two months, whole worth was 250 million. Paul Simon and Simon and Garfunkel CSPC is over 170 millions and Simon wrote all or almost all their catalogue(Chartmasters).
And Discogs records include 149 000 Paul Simon writing, singing and so on.

Shubham shah

Update Ariana Grande sales

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