Most successful artists by decade

Most Successful Artists By Decade

Since the summer of 2016 dozens of artists have been analyzed using the CSPC method.

Some of them destroyed the competition during a short time thanks to only one album, while others have proven longevity through the years.

In the end though, who has really dominated each of the last six decades? Is it the former or the latter kind of artists? You will find the answer in the list below!

The figures written here are not the equivalent album sales during the decade, but the equivalent album sales up to date from all the material released during that decade by an artist.

Please keep in mind some artists with strong results in several decades haven’t been studied so far, e.g. Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, The Police or Nicki Minaj. All figures reflect the value as collected at the time of the artist’s respective articles. The list of studied artists is available here.

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

Most successful artists by decade

1. Elvis Presley127,149,000

1. Beatles376,924,000
2. Elvis Presley131,658,000
3. Rolling Stones110,801,000
4. Simon & Garfunkel89,796,000
5. Bob Dylan72,934,000
6. The Doors72,455,000
7. Led Zeppelin57,592,000
8. Creedence Clearwater Revival52,246,000
9. Barbra Streisand31,384,000
10. Johnny Hallyday29,793,000
11. Bee Gees27,358,000
12. Pink Floyd21,773,000
13. Cher14,854,000
14. Fleetwood Mac14,807,000
15. Jackson 5 & The Jacksons13,281,000

1. Pink Floyd171,695,000
2. Eagles163,422,000
3. Led Zeppelin138,828,000
4. Queen129,623,000
5. Elton John129,344,000
6. Abba125,972,000
7. Rod Stewart & Faces108,674,000
8. Bob Marley107,997,000
9. Bee Gees104,914,000
10. Fleetwood Mac95,398,000
11. Rolling Stones73,368,000
12. Billy Joel72,103,000
13. David Bowie68,914,000
14. AC/DC67,824,000
15. Paul McCartney65,482,000
16. Black Sabbath62,946,000
17. Aerosmith60,765,000
18. Supertramp58,979,000
19. Barbra Streisand57,359,000
20. Elvis Presley54,499,000

1. Michael Jackson181,681,000
2. Madonna131,613,000
3. Phil Collins119,105,000
4. U2111,861,000
5. Queen107,789,000
6. Prince93,149,000
7. AC/DC84,857,000
8. Bruce Springsteen82,382,000
9. Bon Jovi79,146,000
10. George Michael & Wham!69,617,000
11. Dire Straits67,720,000
12. Metallica64,948,000
13. Billy Joel62,280,000
14. Journey61,102,000
15. Guns N’ Roses58,419,000
16. Whitney Houston56,494,000
17. Bryan Adams46,495,000
18. Barbra Streisand43,186,000
19. Rolling Stones37,912,000
20. Elton John37,330,000

1. Celine Dion160,090,000
2. Mariah Carey144,462,000
3. Garth Brooks108,309,000
4. Whitney Houston88,381,000
5. Nirvana80,179,000
6. Michael Jackson78,755,000
7. Metallica75,261,000
8. Backstreet Boys74,905,000
9. Madonna66,562,000
10. Shania Twain65,863,000
11. Guns N’ Roses56,524,000
12. Red Hot Chili Peppers55,552,000
13. Alanis Morissette50,237,000
14. Oasis47,347,000
15. Spice Girls47,339,000
16. Green Day44,616,000
17. Cranberries42,810,000
18. U242,021,000
19. TLC38,447,000
20. Bon Jovi37,185,000

1. Eminem123,624,000
2. Linkin Park67,608,000
3. Coldplay66,326,000
4. Britney Spears62,135,000
5. Beyoncé50,503,000
6. Pink48,326,000
7. Norah Jones48,153,000
8. Robbie Williams47,775,000
9. Nickelback46,375,000
10. Black Eyed Peas45,631,000
11. Alicia Keys43,142,000
12. Michael Bublé42,346,000
13. Ayumi Hamasaki40,263,000
14. U238,338,000
15. Madonna37,931,000
16. Avril Lavigne36,931,000
17. Rihanna36,818,000
18. Lady Gaga34,991,000
19. Usher34,775,000
20. Shakira34,227,000

1. Adele73,356,000
2. Ed Sheeran61,066,000
3. Justin Bieber60,072,000
4. Taylor Swift55,950,000
5. Rihanna55,886,000
6. Bruno Mars52,339,000
7. Drake52,256,000
8. One Direction44,466,000
9. BTS40,695,000
10. Eminem38,691,000
11. Maroon 537,803,000
12. Katy Perry35,012,000
13. Ariana Grande33,108,000
14. The Weeknd32,342,000
15. Coldplay28,500,000
16. Lady Gaga27,496,000
17. Kendrick Lamar26,660,000
18. Imagine Dragons24,676,000
19. Beyoncé23,194,000
20. Michael Bublé19,821,000

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Pearl Jam sold more albums than Nirvana. Pearl Jam sold 85 million records in the 90’s and are most commercially successful rock band of the 90’s. No offense, you lost me!


Hi Joe!

As mentioned in the introduction, the lists only cover artists that we digged into. It’s not the case of Pearl Jam so far. If you want to see them studied, you can vote for the band here.

Michael Arnold

Wow! What?! No Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, No Roots, No Snoop, Dre, DMX, Nas? These were major, major players. These were major influencers of their time and times to come. Really, no Nas? Inexcusable. Unequivocally!

Peppa Pig

Can we get a 2020s update?


Nicki Minaj should be in the Top 10 or 20 for the 2010s depending on how you factor in her numbers.



Last edited 3 months ago by BTSFan

mmm You’re a Madonna fan


lol, almost everyone in this world is a fan of Madonna. She is a legend of one-name.


How was Janet the second most successful artist of the 90´s according to billboard but shes not even on that list?


Because Billboard are incorrect and feed false information. This list will be the most accurate.


right?? it makes no sense, Janet was huge


Billboard only reflects the US where she was much bigger than elsewhere. And their artist lists aren’t even based on sales but rather chart points.


Wheres little mix? They have sold 50 million? They were literally given a plaque for 30 million too like 3 years ago…..


Bruh where is Jimi Hendrix!?? I heard that he was the most paid artist at his time in the 60s.


I don’t think he’s in the major league of sellers, but he would definitely be an interesting study

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