CSPC the best selling artists of all-time
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Setting up accurate best selling artists lists

For decades, marketing tricks from labels and lack of education from media led to various myths about the best selling artists of all-time getting repeated so often that the general public assumed it was true.

Today, the same lack of education on the matter continues to be a pain for accuracy lovers. Most of these lists floating around online are either a flat list of RIAA certifications, which are given only on-request, sparsely for many artists, and relate to the US only, or a mere sum of all certifications from all countries, adding together apples and oranges by mixing distinct formats and different national streaming conversion methods.

To solve this flawed answers, we introduced several years ago the Commensure Sales to Popularity Concept (CSPC).

If you are not familiar with this concept, it consists in retrieving sales figures from every format and weighting them on par with album sales. That’s what we call equivalent album sales, or simply CSPC units.

In doing so, we grant that comparisons between artists from different periods make sense, unlike lists based on raw records totals.

The method also secures that the same formula is applied to all artists, avoiding issues related to the varying conversion rate used for streaming in different markets as well as by most labels on their communications.

When applying this concept to an artist, our team go into the tank, analyzing all data available, from charts, certifications, internal reports, or official scanning systems. Through the years, we developed various methods to fill the holes, backing all numbers on meaningful indicators. In-between, we also undercover thousands of receipts.

To make everything as transparent as it gets, all figures for sales have been detailed on each artist article, available through the link under their name. Dates of updates, both for sales and for streams, are shown too.

The column ‘Other LPs’ includes long formats made of already released material like greatest hits compilations, box sets, live records, bootlegs, and music videos.

Digital singles include both downloads and ringtones. Streaming units include both audio and video streams.


An ongoing process

Obviously, digging into the catalog of an artist takes time. It would be easy to simply copy/paste RIAA’s most certified artists list in a minute, in our case the largest discographies require several weeks of study, with several people involved.

Most top selling artists have been studied by now, but some are still missing. The main ones are Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond and Eric Clapton.

These omissions are listed on this page, which enables users to vote for the next pick. As soon as a new CSPC article is released, the leader of the requests list gets treated. You can vote too.


The automatic update of streams

As part of our process to get all artists treated at the same time, we have been implementing tools to automatically keep numbers up to date every day whenever it is possible.

As we also developed a tool to retrieve updated Spotify streams by artist, we are able to increase accordingly the streaming units of artists part of our all-time best selling artists leaderboard.

For further details, feel free to use the comment section.



Top CSPC – the best selling artists of all-time

The below table presents the best selling artists of all-time using the below ratios.

  • Studio Album: sales of the original album
  • Other LPs: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album
  • Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (added to CSPC total with a ratio 3/10 for 2-tracks, 5/10 for EPs and Maxis)
  • Digital Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10 for CSPC total)
  • Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500 for Audio stream and 1/11750 for Video stream)
#PICArtistTotal CSPCStudio Albums SalesOther LPs SalesPhysical Singles SalesDigital Singles SalesSales UpdateStreams EAS (Update)
1TheThe Beatles416,582,000160,650,000203,392,000116,080,00035,230,00003/01/1712,432,000
(11/25/21)
2MichaelMichael Jackson331,204,000182,600,000101,997,00079,350,00079,930,00009/27/1710,812,000
(11/25/21)
3ElvisElvis Presley316,930,00053,150,000212,309,000135,210,00037,470,00009/01/185,289,000
(11/10/21)
4QueenQueen270,533,00090,230,000139,348,00049,960,00059,650,00001/25/2017,016,000
(11/25/21)
5MadonnaMadonna244,357,000146,450,00064,420,00075,210,00042,100,00008/13/174,609,000
(11/25/21)
6TheThe Rolling Stones241,161,000113,800,00092,495,00072,770,00046,200,00012/03/166,104,000
(11/20/21)
7PinkPink Floyd234,246,000169,600,00052,025,0008,800,00023,360,00006/18/176,477,000
(11/21/21)
8LedLed Zeppelin204,465,000141,500,00051,200,0006,350,00032,030,00008/08/165,052,000
(11/23/21)
9EltonElton John201,667,00088,630,00082,400,00065,340,00026,250,00002/05/187,097,000
(11/24/21)
10U2U2198,357,000127,100,00053,051,00022,550,00040,500,00008/31/165,366,000
(11/23/21)
11AC/DCAC/DC196,727,000132,470,00049,349,0007,200,00033,450,00002/20/187,730,000
(11/24/21)
12CélineCéline Dion196,453,000136,200,00040,424,00039,290,00026,660,00009/28/214,044,000
(11/25/21)
13EminemEminem194,137,00098,650,00026,493,00014,320,000205,790,00006/22/2133,782,000
(11/25/21)
14RodRod Stewart & Faces189,283,000100,150,00066,819,00055,220,00017,420,00011/23/193,126,000
(11/21/21)
15EaglesEagles173,854,00065,425,00096,732,00016,630,00020,440,00012/20/173,643,000
(11/21/21)
16MariahMariah Carey172,528,000116,100,00031,228,00036,890,00050,130,00004/28/176,614,000
(11/25/21)
17MetallicaMetallica160,840,000121,260,00020,164,00015,480,00040,770,00002/13/198,656,000
(11/22/21)
18ABBAABBA160,281,00045,300,00091,491,00054,400,00017,870,00011/02/164,490,000
(11/17/21)
19BruceBruce Springsteen159,757,000103,400,00042,176,00021,010,00025,420,00007/07/174,066,000
(11/22/21)
20BeeBee Gees159,711,00075,525,00056,477,00072,790,00017,230,00004/09/173,287,000
(11/23/21)
21WhitneyWhitney Houston155,510,000113,600,00017,175,00049,520,00034,250,00005/04/174,740,000
(11/25/21)
22BarbraBarbra Streisand153,093,00091,370,00049,714,00035,250,0003,680,00003/16/18881,000
(11/11/21)
23PhilPhil Collins149,930,00093,780,00039,905,00029,910,00022,690,00004/11/183,869,000
(11/22/21)
24FleetwoodFleetwood Mac149,324,00084,550,00046,392,00026,060,00032,030,00010/21/215,760,000
(11/13/21)
25BillyBilly Joel149,283,00091,400,00040,235,00036,900,00021,000,00011/03/213,428,000
(11/23/21)
26BonBon Jovi148,119,00089,450,00039,176,00027,980,00038,450,00011/16/165,331,000
(11/25/21)
27SantanaSantana144,871,00089,465,00046,265,00015,380,00016,560,00008/04/202,121,000
(11/23/21)
28GarthGarth Brooks144,352,00081,605,00062,341,000950,00090,00001/05/19106,000
(08/08/21)
29BobBob Dylan144,248,00083,350,00047,870,00017,680,00030,410,00010/23/163,163,000
(11/23/21)
30BobBob Marley139,893,00043,075,00081,593,0009,980,00033,690,00011/21/177,177,000
(11/23/21)
31PrincePrince133,259,00086,580,00027,141,00042,910,00029,590,00010/04/182,227,000
(11/25/21)
32AerosmithAerosmith132,347,00071,710,00048,158,00015,500,00025,550,00006/01/183,996,000
(11/25/21)
33DavidDavid Bowie129,266,00071,500,00036,023,00044,200,00019,830,00001/11/175,507,000
(11/25/21)
34SimonSimon & Garfunkel125,444,00037,820,00075,732,00023,830,00014,350,00005/11/182,591,000
(11/25/21)
35StevieStevie Wonder122,630,00065,605,00028,070,00065,320,00034,490,00003/17/214,106,000
(11/25/21)
36GunsGuns N' Roses122,180,00086,360,00020,134,00011,900,00037,210,00003/01/186,534,000
(11/24/21)
37TheThe Doors116,099,00051,980,00055,480,00013,860,00011,100,00003/03/192,816,000
(11/15/21)
38PaulPaul McCartney111,311,00061,670,00027,441,00057,970,00011,250,00012/13/183,121,000
(11/13/21)
39DireDire Straits110,485,00071,730,00031,635,0008,380,00010,900,00003/23/182,971,000
(10/14/21)
40GeorgeGeorge Michael & Wham!108,115,00060,200,00026,150,00049,880,00016,770,00005/07/174,286,000
(11/25/21)
41BritneyBritney Spears107,464,00068,595,00011,460,00018,600,00083,030,00004/28/199,375,000
(11/25/21)
42TaylorTaylor Swift107,036,00049,570,0004,810,000280,000159,420,00005/25/2128,656,000
(11/25/21)
43DrakeDrake106,027,00015,525,00080,00040,000169,530,00007/02/2164,979,000
(11/25/21)
44RihannaRihanna103,883,00033,480,0001,215,0003,600,000257,560,00006/02/2129,889,000
(11/25/21)
45ColdplayColdplay102,661,00060,160,0006,090,0002,060,00095,110,00006/07/2121,517,000
(11/24/21)
46VanVan Halen101,410,00079,620,00014,065,00010,450,00016,810,00012/14/202,064,000
(08/09/21)
47TheThe Police98,228,00046,370,00040,183,00023,810,00011,300,00006/06/202,825,000
(09/27/21)
48BackstreetBackstreet Boys97,280,00058,900,00025,685,00018,010,00022,550,00002/09/173,909,000
(11/25/21)
49RedRed Hot Chili Peppers96,957,00061,870,00016,881,0004,800,00044,400,00003/29/1810,107,000
(11/25/21)
50NirvanaNirvana93,687,00045,000,00037,650,0004,190,00023,250,00007/09/176,292,000
(11/03/21)
51DeepDeep Purple92,549,00045,485,00040,666,00012,180,0009,200,00008/18/211,270,000
(11/16/21)
52AdeleAdele92,186,00059,860,0003,828,000550,00099,250,00010/15/2113,443,000
(11/25/21)
53NeilNeil Young92,136,00065,210,00021,443,0007,100,00011,870,00005/15/211,565,000
(09/02/21)
54CreedenceCreedence Clearwater Revival91,844,00033,135,00045,489,00022,570,00014,600,00001/31/194,260,000
(11/23/21)
55R.E.M.R.E.M.89,703,00066,685,00016,347,0008,280,00011,920,00009/24/212,397,000
(11/12/21)
56JustinJustin Bieber89,446,00019,810,0007,120,000540,000110,890,00008/04/1945,720,000
(11/25/21)
57EnyaEnya88,215,00065,480,00017,069,0005,250,0009,610,00002/25/182,648,000
(11/24/21)
58BryanBryan Adams88,201,00042,260,00030,518,00032,090,00017,250,00003/23/193,209,000
(11/25/21)
59IronIron Maiden87,887,00056,820,00025,526,0004,640,0007,100,00011/12/212,830,000
(11/19/21)
60LinkinLinkin Park87,671,00048,350,00014,500,0003,210,00073,710,00006/04/1712,802,000
(11/25/21)
61GreenGreen Day86,968,00058,250,00013,567,0003,050,00044,600,00003/11/177,547,000
(10/30/21)
62BeyonceBeyonce84,342,00033,430,0004,431,0004,070,000166,890,00005/02/1820,227,000
(11/25/21)
63ShaniaShania Twain81,845,00063,200,00011,259,00013,130,00010,700,00012/05/161,842,000
(11/20/21)
64JourneyJourney81,312,00040,250,00031,623,0008,090,00029,770,00009/13/192,548,000
(09/04/21)
65BTSBTS81,007,00027,935,0009,361,0003,630,00036,110,00005/20/2137,199,000
(11/25/21)
66StingSting80,080,00052,360,00017,720,00016,010,00014,160,00006/14/202,811,000
(11/16/21)
67BlackBlack Sabbath78,684,00046,280,00027,467,0003,300,00011,280,00003/08/202,215,000
(11/24/21)
68JanetJanet Jackson77,991,00050,500,00012,175,00040,640,00013,350,00004/17/171,123,000
(11/25/21)
69EdEd Sheeran77,010,00023,160,0001,343,000180,00084,500,00010/30/2139,779,000
(11/25/21)
70RobbieRobbie Williams76,428,00046,500,00021,770,00011,960,00013,860,00012/15/192,474,000
(10/20/21)
71JohnnyJohnny Hallyday75,882,00026,740,00035,156,00043,740,0001,430,00001/01/18651,000
(09/04/21)
72SadeSade75,267,00051,560,00018,565,0006,270,00011,140,00007/01/201,589,000
(11/24/21)
73MaroonMaroon 573,974,00026,050,0002,138,0001,600,000149,190,00012/02/1922,888,000
(11/24/21)
74JohnJohn Lennon73,766,00031,420,00030,759,00026,780,00012,160,00010/16/181,729,000
(11/24/21)
75CherCher73,464,00034,825,00021,889,00046,220,0009,630,00008/30/171,440,000
(11/24/21)
76SupertrampSupertramp71,847,00048,540,00017,999,00010,070,0006,830,00008/13/191,262,000
(10/13/21)
77LadyLady Gaga71,592,00031,215,0004,790,0001,570,000128,860,00012/18/2015,785,000
(11/25/21)
78P!nkP!nk69,333,00037,025,0008,906,0007,270,00081,150,00010/15/179,048,000
(11/25/21)
79MichaelMichael Buble66,196,00047,800,0006,344,000770,00035,400,00012/11/166,511,000
(11/21/21)
80ShakiraShakira65,191,00034,780,0006,620,0008,460,00056,350,00006/21/1812,802,000
(11/25/21)
81UsherUsher65,189,00036,160,0002,201,00012,040,00093,610,00009/04/179,174,000
(11/25/21)
82BrunoBruno Mars63,899,00017,375,00040,000250,000149,580,00006/27/1923,973,000
(11/25/21)
83MeatMeat Loaf62,314,00048,300,0009,565,00010,850,0003,900,00006/16/18610,000
(10/28/21)
84OasisOasis62,108,00041,050,00010,046,00011,420,00018,800,00012/06/174,767,000
(11/03/21)
85AyumiAyumi Hamasaki61,484,00021,810,00019,339,00025,980,00046,480,00009/27/19814,000
(11/25/21)
86Crosby,Crosby, Stills & Nash60,836,00034,420,00021,902,0008,380,0008,310,00005/15/21759,000
(05/15/21)
87JacksonJackson 5 & The Jacksons59,012,00026,400,00019,027,00031,160,00013,720,00009/26/172,179,000
(11/25/21)
88AlanisAlanis Morissette57,715,00047,065,0006,951,0003,340,0009,080,00006/05/181,335,000
(11/24/21)
89BlackBlack Eyed Peas57,714,00033,350,000251,0006,590,000103,960,00008/03/176,542,000
(11/25/21)
90EnriqueEnrique Iglesias57,597,00033,900,0005,300,0008,900,00050,110,00009/27/168,210,000
(11/23/21)
91ChristinaChristina Aguilera56,227,00030,400,0004,375,00012,740,00069,950,00003/18/177,137,000
(11/01/21)
92NickelbackNickelback56,078,00040,500,0001,824,0003,020,00057,280,00006/28/174,256,000
(11/20/21)
93OneOne Direction54,423,00023,900,0006,350,000120,00057,000,00005/14/1715,586,000
(11/25/21)
94KatyKaty Perry52,908,00015,880,000300,000870,000135,430,00006/16/1916,153,000
(11/25/21)
95OzzyOzzy Osbourne52,358,00039,370,0007,483,0003,760,00015,180,00003/12/202,075,000
(11/20/21)
96PaulPaul Simon52,105,00034,390,00011,598,00012,820,0003,740,00005/10/181,711,000
(10/06/21)
97JustinJustin Timberlake51,981,00023,490,0001,480,0005,330,000102,090,00002/09/1810,098,000
(11/25/21)
98NorahNorah Jones51,919,00043,550,0002,825,000300,00018,600,00011/04/162,764,000
(11/24/21)
99TracyTracy Chapman51,782,00043,760,0003,519,0003,480,00012,490,00006/25/191,584,000
(11/18/21)
100AliciaAlicia Keys50,973,00032,960,0002,524,0003,690,00057,750,00011/19/165,719,000
(11/25/21)
101ArianaAriana Grande50,331,0006,005,000681,000110,00055,140,00009/27/2135,339,000
(11/25/21)
102BostonBoston50,300,00041,330,0004,803,0005,640,0009,540,00006/01/191,045,000
(11/24/21)
103SpiceSpice Girls49,614,00037,050,0004,349,00020,020,0005,200,00003/23/171,429,000
(11/25/21)
104Destiny'sDestiny's Child48,141,00033,010,0005,800,00011,120,00022,320,00005/02/182,648,000
(11/25/21)
105MileyMiley Cyrus48,044,00023,050,0002,365,000250,00070,530,00012/06/2011,974,000
(11/25/21)
106TheThe Weeknd46,764,0005,235,0003,035,00080,00044,270,00009/10/2027,256,000
(11/25/21)
107CranberriesCranberries46,112,00037,650,0003,710,0004,120,0008,210,00001/25/182,285,000
(11/19/21)
108AvrilAvril Lavigne45,771,00032,290,0001,206,0003,510,00046,160,00002/10/183,930,000
(11/25/21)
109NSYNCNSYNC45,066,00037,930,0002,669,0006,980,0005,110,00002/09/181,607,000
(11/25/21)
110JenniferJennifer Lopez44,645,00026,120,0004,811,00010,760,00036,810,00006/24/184,965,000
(11/25/21)
111MannheimMannheim Steamroller44,147,00033,305,00010,344,00040,0002,410,00012/24/20116,000
(08/09/21)
112FooFoo Fighters42,764,00026,750,0006,207,0001,430,00026,610,00010/10/175,387,000
(11/21/21)
113TLCTLC40,976,00032,195,0001,920,00013,120,0008,350,00004/07/191,672,000
(11/15/21)
114TakeTake That39,137,00019,930,00014,016,0009,210,00010,240,00012/15/19857,000
(09/27/21)
115KellyKelly Clarkson37,182,00021,600,0001,460,0002,200,00062,010,00005/23/184,159,000
(11/25/21)
116KylieKylie Minogue36,882,00020,320,0007,103,00019,720,00012,150,00004/16/181,719,000
(11/25/21)
117BadBad Bunny36,513,000184,000003,910,00007/24/2135,742,000
(11/25/21)
118ImagineImagine Dragons35,551,0007,960,000371,00030,00045,410,00009/19/1820,398,000
(11/25/21)
119NoNo Doubt35,412,00025,730,0006,058,0004,910,0006,080,00003/29/201,240,000
(11/25/21)
120KendrickKendrick Lamar34,287,0005,725,00050,000032,650,00004/12/1923,614,000
(11/22/21)
121PostPost Malone34,020,0001,720,00010,00040,00014,640,00011/26/2030,081,000
(11/25/21)
122AmyAmy Winehouse33,255,00023,180,0002,411,000580,00021,660,00007/19/194,241,000
(11/25/21)
123DidoDido31,117,00026,630,000420,0005,320,0006,210,00002/18/191,539,000
(11/11/21)
124EvanescenceEvanescence31,067,00022,440,0002,755,0002,170,00018,390,00006/30/192,463,000
(11/15/21)
125SelenaSelena Gomez31,008,0005,780,000270,00080,00041,610,00003/21/2118,688,000
(11/25/21)
126CarrieCarrie Underwood29,760,00018,050,000839,000500,00054,410,00009/09/182,560,000
(11/24/21)
127SamSam Smith29,409,0006,525,00025,000100,00032,700,00010/11/1717,924,000
(11/24/21)
128JamesJames Blunt28,800,00020,440,0001,020,0002,130,00023,090,00002/05/193,236,000
(11/25/21)
129BjörkBjörk26,008,00019,730,0004,372,0002,620,0003,460,00012/23/18601,000
(11/14/21)
130GorillazGorillaz25,180,00014,830,0001,240,0002,110,00019,000,00005/08/175,627,000
(11/25/21)
131BillieBillie Eilish25,167,0002,270,0002,00010,0005,920,00007/04/2021,985,000
(11/25/21)
132ShawnShawn Mendes24,692,0002,630,000120,00040,00020,330,00010/08/1918,881,000
(11/23/21)
133JuiceJuice Wrld23,424,000623,000003,010,00008/13/2122,348,000
(11/24/21)
134LanaLana Del Rey23,417,0007,950,000565,000210,00020,200,00008/24/1711,809,000
(11/25/21)
135FugeesFugees22,604,00017,310,0001,348,0007,160,0005,240,00002/18/211,011,000
(09/04/21)
136ArcticArctic Monkeys22,248,00010,340,000302,000560,00012,870,00005/14/189,508,000
(11/25/21)
137RenaudRenaud22,238,00013,230,0007,667,0002,660,000690,00011/01/17439,000
(08/07/21)
138DuaDua Lipa22,019,000945,0006,00020,0007,020,00001/05/2120,009,000
(11/25/21)
139Ms.Ms. Lauryn Hill21,807,00015,610,0001,734,0003,660,0007,670,00002/18/212,215,000
(11/18/21)
140AviciiAvicii21,631,0002,200,000170,000250,00036,700,00004/25/1813,681,000
(11/13/21)
141DemiDemi Lovato21,457,0004,480,00035,00050,00035,890,00010/09/1811,543,000
(11/24/21)
142GwenGwen Stefani20,229,00012,060,000154,0003,130,00029,040,00004/12/202,720,000
(11/25/21)
143AaliyahAaliyah18,264,00012,200,0003,174,0006,350,0003,050,00002/14/17526,000
(11/25/21)
144BlackpinkBlackpink18,127,0003,005,0001,069,000350,00012,880,00008/28/2112,017,000
(11/03/21)
145CardiCardi B17,857,000361,000020,00012,140,00009/07/2115,670,000
(11/25/21)
146MacklemoreMacklemore17,244,0003,225,00045,00080,00039,270,00011/07/178,060,000
(11/12/21)
147FergieFergie14,432,0006,450,00025,000750,00036,900,00007/12/172,197,000
(10/15/21)
148LittleLittle Mix13,471,0003,670,0000130,00012,020,00002/02/207,959,000
(11/25/21)
149Will.i.amWill.i.am12,800,000950,0000750,00053,300,00007/20/173,631,000
(11/13/21)
150LordeLorde12,244,0003,300,000100,000019,250,00006/22/175,957,000
(11/10/21)
151HarryHarry Styles11,960,0002,820,000010,0003,480,00007/15/218,617,000
(11/25/21)
152BuffaloBuffalo Springfield11,104,0002,885,0006,698,0001,980,0003,550,00005/15/21401,000
(09/02/21)
153DojaDoja Cat9,954,00096,000010,0001,650,00008/25/219,606,000
(11/25/21)
154LewisLewis Capaldi7,661,000738,0003,00040,0003,420,00008/31/216,394,000
(11/23/21)
155LilLil Nas X7,602,00048,000003,220,00009/29/217,070,000
(11/25/21)
156OliviaOlivia Rodrigo6,729,000485,0001,0000900,00008/24/216,107,000
(11/25/21)