Best selling artists in pure album sales

The Beatles are the pure album sales leaders

Until a few years ago, chart lovers followed their fave artists and compared their success to others thanks to pure album sales. Nowadays, physical sales are going down but it doesn’t change the fact that some artists achieved gigantic figures through this format. So, who have been the most sucessful in this area? Have some recent acts been able to do well despite the fall of this market? You will find the answer in the list below!

Please notice that music videos, EPs and singles are not considered here. Records included are studio albums, compilations, live albums and box sets.

Please keep in mind that some artists haven’t been studied so far, e.g. legends like Elvis Presley (who should have similar results to Michael Jackson) or Frank Sinatra (probably in the top 15), so their pure album sales aren’t available so far. All figures reflect the value as collected at the time of the artist’s respective articles.

A lot of lists like this one are available in the Data Collector, so feel free to read them to gauge how your favorite artist charts within it.

Artists Ranking – Pure album sales – All Albums

1. The Beatles333,145,000 (as of Mar 2017)
2. Michael Jackson235,440,000 (as of Sep 2017)
3. Pink Floyd203,010,000 (as of Jun 2017)
4. Madonna201,900,000 (as of Aug 2017)
5. The Rolling Stones201,100,000 (as of Dec 2016)
6. Led Zeppelin182,500,000 (as of Aug 2016)
7. Queen179,295,000 (as of Oct 2017)
8. Céline Dion171,625,000 (as of Sep 2016)
9. AC/DC169,670,000 (as of Feb 2018)
10. U2169,000,000 (as of Aug 2016)
11. Elton John167,640,000 (as of Feb 2018)
12. Eagles153,885,000 (as of Dec 2017)
13. Mariah Carey144,375,000 (as of Apr 2017)
14. Barbra Streisand138,610,000 (as of Mar 2018)
15. Bruce Springsteen138,400,000 (as of Jul 2017)
16. ABBA130,250,000 (as of Nov 2016)
17. Fleetwood Mac129,650,000 (as of Oct 2016)
18. Billy Joel129,075,000 (as of Oct 2016)
19. Whitney Houston128,600,000 (as of May 2017)
20. Bob Dylan128,375,000 (as of Oct 2016)
21. Bee Gees125,795,000 (as of Apr 2017)
22. Metallica124,650,000 (as of Aug 2016)
23. Bob Marley120,150,000 (as of Nov 2017)
24. Bon Jovi115,650,000 (as of Nov 2016)
25. Eminem108,300,000 (as of Aug 2016)
26. David Bowie103,910,000 (as of Jan 2017)
27. Guns N’ Roses102,770,000 (as of Mar 2018)
28. Dire Straits100,350,000 (as of Mar 2018)
29. George Michael & Wham!83,200,000 (as of May 2017)
30. Enya82,500,000 (as of Feb 2018)
31. Backstreet Boys79,850,000 (as of Feb 2017)
32. Nirvana79,800,000 (as of Jul 2017)
33. Red Hot Chili Peppers76,435,000 (as of Mar 2018)
34. Britney Spears76,380,000 (as of Feb 2018)
35. Shania Twain71,750,000 (as of Dec 2016)
36. Green Day70,295,000 (as of Mar 2017)
37. Coldplay62,500,000 (as of Jun 2017)
38. Linkin Park62,100,000 (as of Jun 2017)
39. Janet Jackson59,650,000 (as of Apr 2017)
40. Adele59,110,000 (as of Mar 2018)
41. Johnny Hallyday55,740,000 (as of Jan 2018)
42. Cher53,350,000 (as of Aug 2017)
43. Michael Bublé52,995,000 (as of Dec 2016)
44. Oasis48,720,000 (as of Dec 2017)
45. Norah Jones45,280,000 (as of Nov 2016)
46. P!nk42,100,000 (as of Oct 2017)
47. Taylor Swift41,875,000 (as of Oct 2017)
48. Shakira41,400,000 (as of Dec 2016)
49. Nickelback41,300,000 (as of Jun 2017)
50. Cranberries41,050,000 (as of Jan 2018)
51. Enrique Iglesias39,200,000 (as of Sep 2016)
52. Jackson 5 & The Jacksons39,100,000 (as of Sep 2017)
53. NSYNC38,690,000 (as of Feb 2018)
54. Spice Girls38,400,000 (as of Mar 2017)
55. Destiny’s Child37,950,000 (as of Dec 2016)
56. Usher37,160,000 (as of Sep 2017)
57. Beyoncé35,500,000 (as of Dec 2016)
58. Alicia Keys35,060,000 (as of Nov 2016)
59. Christina Aguilera33,525,000 (as of Mar 2017)
60. Black Eyed Peas33,450,000 (as of Aug 2017)
61. Avril Lavigne33,140,000 (as of Feb 2018)
62. Rihanna33,100,000 (as of Nov 2017)
63. Foo Fighters31,700,000 (as of Oct 2017)
64. Lady Gaga30,870,000 (as of Mar 2018)
65. Maroon 527,550,000 (as of Oct 2016)
66. Miley Cyrus25,050,000 (as of May 2017)
67. Justin Bieber24,500,000 (as of Aug 2016)
68. One Direction24,050,000 (as of May 2017)
69. Justin Timberlake23,370,000 (as of Feb 2018)
70. Amy Winehouse22,700,000 (as of Sep 2016)
71. Ed Sheeran19,790,000 (as of Jan 2018)
72. Renaud19,200,000 (as of Nov 2017)
73. Bruno Mars17,375,000 (as of Oct 2017)
74. Katy Perry15,960,000 (as of Mar 2018)
75. Gorillaz15,770,000 (as of May 2017)
76. Aaliyah15,375,000 (as of Feb 2017)
77. Drake14,775,000 (as of Aug 2017)
78. Lana Del Rey8,500,000 (as of Aug 2017)
79. Sam Smith6,525,000 (as of Oct 2017)
80. Fergie6,450,000 (as of Jul 2017)
81. Kendrick Lamar5,725,000 (as of Jan 2018)
82. Selena Gomez5,705,000 (as of Nov 2017)
83. Ariana Grande4,195,000 (as of Nov 2017)
84. The Weeknd4,150,000 (as of Dec 2016)
85. Demi Lovato4,075,000 (as of May 2017)
86. Lorde3,300,000 (as of Jun 2017)
87. Macklemore (& Ryan Lewis)3,260,000 (as of Nov 2017)
88. Will.i.am950,000 (as of Jul 2017)

2.4 5 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I believe everything in Guinness World Book of Records.


According to Guinness World Records,Julio Iglesias had sold over 250m albums worldwide by 2006.


So you really believe everything you read?


Where is Robbie Williams? He has sold more than 50M albums.


Hey MJD,

Great list, but I was just wondering how both Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé’s numbers increased so much over the last 18 months. In their Dec 2016 article, you have Beyoncé at 33,45M and DC at 32,85M, but now Beyoncé is at 35,5 and DC heavily increased to 37,95M.


Hi Isaiah!

Figures remain unchanged. The figures you quote from Dec 2016 refer to studio albums only, this article includes compilations / lives albums too.


Hey MJD why is the Dream Girls soundtrack not included? Also have you changed your methodology for tracking album and single sales in your recent update for every artist? thanks 🙂


Would you be able to add this list to the useful links section and update it as new artists are studied?


I love this list more because I couldn’t accept that U2 and Elton John ranked higher than Celine Dion on the EAS rankings list.


What really surprises me is that MJ is #2 in the world with so few releases . Many acts have released 2-3 times as many albums and still aren’t as high in sales. Totally insane


It’a crazy how many years he took to release a new album between one and another and the hype never slowed down. Definitly the most sucessful act of all time.


Well done Madonna! What an achievement and one in the eye for all the obvious incorrect hype surrounding Mariah Careys stats! I always knew they blew smoke up her backside! When you look at her sales outside of the US and chart performance, she could never have outsold Madonna. In the UK (third largest music market!) Carey only has 3 number 1 albums and singles!!! Madonna by comparrison has 13 number 1 albums (9 over 1M each!) and 13 number 1 singles!! Its repeated globally… i like Mariah, but she was never a global phenomenon like Madonna

Lee Watkins

As a twist on this topic I would love to see the Best Selling Album Artists outside of the USA. It would be interesting to see how it would change, I’d imagine artists like Queen and ABBA would benefit the most. One artist who would most probably make the Top30 on purely American sales would be Garth Brooks, any plans to work on his sales figures MJD?


Hi Lee Watkins!

I already aimed to work on Garth Brooks, but at the moment it isn’t possible. In fact, his discography is still unavailable on both YouTube and Spotify, so we can’t re-assign sales of his compilations / music videos into his original albums!


Where is Ace Of Base, though? They sold 23 million of their first album and then roughly 8-10 million of the next three.