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 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 (as of May 2021)

1950s
1. Elvis Presley127,149,000

1960s
1. The Beatles376,924,000
2. Elvis Presley131,658,000
3. The 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. Stevie Wonder17,580,000
14. Santana16,834,000
15. Cher14,854,000
16. Cher14,854,000
17. Fleetwood Mac14,807,000
18. Jackson 5 & The Jacksons13,281,000
19. Buffalo Springfield11,061,000
20. David Bowie8,481,000

1970s
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. Santana75,660,000
12. The Rolling Stones73,368,000
13. Billy Joel72,103,000
14. David Bowie68,914,000
15. AC/DC67,824,000
16. Paul McCartney65,482,000
17. Stevie Wonder63,036,000
18. Black Sabbath62,946,000
19. Aerosmith60,765,000
20. Supertramp58,979,000
21. Barbra Streisand57,359,000
22. Elvis Presley54,499,000
23. Neil Young53,662,000
24. John Lennon47,679,000
25. Michael Jackson46,469,000

1980s
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. The Police64,978,000
13. Metallica64,948,000
14. Billy Joel62,280,000
15. Journey61,102,000
16. Van Halen60,076,000
17. Guns N’ Roses58,419,000
18. Whitney Houston56,494,000
19. Sade46,991,000
20. Bryan Adams46,495,000
21. Barbra Streisand43,186,000
22. The Rolling Stones37,912,000
23. Elton John37,330,000
24. Stevie Wonder36,782,000
25. David Bowie35,564,000

1990s
1. Céline 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. The Cranberries42,810,000
18. U242,021,000
19. TLC38,447,000
20. Sting37,855,000
21. Bon Jovi37,185,000
22. Bryan Adams36,037,000
23. Aerosmith35,248,000
24. Santana33,069,000
25. Enya31,849,000

2000s
1. Eminem123,624,000
2. Linkin Park67,608,000
3. Coldplay66,326,000
4. Britney Spears62,135,000
5. Beyoncé50,503,000
6. P!nk48,326,000
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 Gaga35,949,000
19. Usher34,775,000
20. Shakira34,227,000
21. Justin Timberlake33,379,000
22. Green Day32,386,000
23. Taylor Swift29,445,000
24. Miley Cyrus28,856,000
25. Evanescence28,339,000

2010s
1. Adele73,356,000
2. Justin Bieber66,066,000
3. Taylor Swift64,282,000
4. Ed Sheeran61,066,000
5. Rihanna55,886,000
6. BTS55,749,000
7. Bruno Mars52,339,000
8. Drake52,256,000
9. One Direction44,466,000
10. Eminem38,691,000
11. Maroon 537,803,000
12. Katy Perry35,012,000
13. The Weeknd34,942,000
14. Ariana Grande33,108,000
15. Lady Gaga30,122,000
16. Post Malone28,844,000
17. Coldplay28,500,000
18. Kendrick Lamar26,660,000
19. Imagine Dragons24,676,000
20. Selena Gomez23,749,000
21. Beyoncé23,194,000
22. Michael Bublé19,821,000
23. Shawn Mendes17,365,000
24. Billie Eilish16,709,000
25. Sam Smith16,045,000

2020s
1. BTS16,701,000
2. Taylor Swift7,851,000
3. The Weeknd4,070,000
4. Justin Bieber3,462,000
5. Dua Lipa2,884,000
6. Lady Gaga2,249,000
7. Selena Gomez1,958,000

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Akhil

Wonder why Michael Jackson is not listed in the 2000s even if he has sold 35 million in 2009 alone? https://www.today.com/id/wbna37957972

Martin

I’d take that 35m with a pinch of salt.

As for him missing, the totals are based on sales, from products released in those decades, not contemporary and catalogue sales, in those decades. So, his sales of say Dangerous, in 2009 or any year, go towards his decade total for the 90s.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin
Joe

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!

MJD

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?

Chad

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

BTSFan

BTS LEGENDS

Last edited 1 year ago by BTSFan
alex

mmm You’re a Madonna fan

certificationaccess

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

Adam

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

Tony

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

Manuk

right?? it makes no sense, Janet was huge

Al

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.

Saz

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

Rando

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

Al

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

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