Top artists over a period

It’s almost impossible to spend a day without hearing music. We hear music at the shop, on the radio, on TV ads, through a movie’s soundtrack, when we go to parties, to a pub, etc. and of course, when we play it directly. With that, songs and artists end up being deeply connected to a period of our life.

That’s why music is so generational, and why we are so attached to the ones that we loved during our teenage years.

The table below reflects the value of all the music released by an artist during a period that you can select. The figures are given in EAS (equivalent album sales).

By value, we mean the commercial value, with sales powered by the recorded material. There are plenty of lists online dealing with the greatest records of a period or another. Here, we don’t try to rank the artistical value of artists. We care only about the factual elements!

If you are interested in the technical details of the data, head to the bottom of the page as the Q&A section may address your questions.

How to exploit the data

By period

There are many ways to exploit the table below.

The first one relies on your personal experience. As music is so related to the generation you belong to, try filtering years when you were 12 to 18, and then 18 to 25. This will be an instant throwback, reading the names of the ones that felt so immensely popular back during those beloved periods of our lives.

Another way to see things relates to your favorite artist. Are you a fan of the Beatles? If yes, just filter 1963 to 1970. ABBA? Try 1973 to 1981. Nirvana? Check 1989 to 1994. Taylor Swift? Filter 2006 to 2023. With this view, you can get a better representation of how popular your favorite artist really is, and how it competes with others artists of the same generation.

Then, of course, we can filter the data on a fixed period, reflecting a decade (as we did in this post), half-decades, quarters of century, etc.

By gender

On top of the period filter, you can also focus on a single gender. Which female artists dominated the 90s? Which boy band were still there in the 00s?

The data can answer these questions and many more!

Top artists (EAS) over a period of time – Results

From: To:

Record breaking eras

Below are record holders for the biggest sales generated in a N-years rolling period.

As nobody else ever sold over 400 million equivalent album sales, no matter how many years we look for over a rolling period, the Beatles‘ 8 years spell from 1963 to 1970 will remain unmatched.

Among solo artists, big hitters obviously involve Michael Jackson, who generated 183 million sales over a 6-years span from 1982 to 1987.

The 6-years span is an interesting view as, due to generations, it tends to be how long hey-days of artists last. Below are the owners of the most successful 6-years spans, with 25 of them topping 100 million:

  1. 331 million, the Beatles, 1964-1969
  2. 183 million, Michael Jackson, 1982-1987
  3. 182 million, Elvis Presley, 1956-1961
  4. 163 million, Led Zeppelin, 1966-1971
  5. 155 million, Queen, 1975-1980
  6. 149 million, the Eagles, 1971-1976
  7. 143 million, Celine Dion, 1993-1998
  8. 136 million, ABBA, 1975-1980
  9. 134 million, AC/DC, 1975-1980
  10. 134 million, Eminem, 1999-2004
  11. 124 million, Elton John, 1970-1975
  12. 123 million, Mariah Carey, 1990-1995
  13. 122 million, the Beach Boys, 1962-1967
  14. 117 million, Guns N’ Roses, 1986-1991
  15. 115 million, Madonna, 1984-1989
  16. 114 million, the Doors, 1967-1972
  17. 113 million, the Rolling Stones, 1964-1969
  18. 110 million, Pink Floyd, 1970-1975
  19. 108 million, Garth Brooks, 1988-1993
  20. 106 million, U2, 1983-1988
  21. 105 million, BTS, 2015-2020
  22. 103 million, Bob Marley, 1973-1978
  23. 101 million, Jimi Hendrix, 1966-1971
  24. 101 million, the Bee Gees, 1974-1979
  25. 100 million, the Police, 1978-1983

Fun fact: the only artist to generate over 100 million in sales from two completely distinct 6-years spans is Michael Jackson. He did it in 1979-1984 (154 million) and then again in 1986-1991 (110 million).

Top artists (EAS) over a period of time – Q&A

I can’t find my artist, why?

Some artists are missing because their analysis has not been done yet. The complete list is available here.

Want to see your favorite artist covered?
Vote for them in our requests leaderboard!

My artist’s total EAS is different here from the Top artists (EAS) list. Why?

Minor songs’ metadata like year or feature status can be wrong, which leads to slight differences with the overall top selling artists list. In this case, the latter has the valid information.

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