This list of the top 10 most successful Artists/Bands of all time will be correlating with the amount of units that the certain act sold. Although the exact amount cannot be 100% verified, the statistics shown next to each act are near accurate.
These acts are all known by most of the public and will continue to be known for the near future. Some of these acts are breakouts and some had to really work their way up the corporate ladder to get to the position as musical stars.
A couple of these performers stories show that they had to really fight for their position or for a record deal. Where as others proved to show that anybody with a talent can be picked up once they are known to the wider public.
Most of our acts are either English or American, and this is probably because the mainstream music market belongs in both the U.K. and the U.S. As data shows that the majority of the music bought in the U.K. and U.S. was made inside both of the countries and not elsewhere.
21 million songs are downloaded every day from the iTunes store and at least 60% of this market is from the U.K. and U.S. This shows how big the market share is within these two worldwide leaders. The iTunes store has a 29% market share of the whole music market, which makes it the biggest market share holder as a company.
So if you are looking to break out into the mass market of music then you need to get your music onto iTunes for mass exposure. Throughout this list, the acts have sold over 2.9 billion units. This equates to nearly 2/10th of all music downloaded in the last two decades. That just shows how massive some of these artists and acts are and were.
Let’s get started with number 10 on our list:
10. Whitney Houston
Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born in 1963 in Newark, New Jersey. According to the Guinness World Records Houston is the most awarded female act of all time. She released six studio albums, one holiday album and three film soundtrack albums. All of her albums have Diamond, Multi-Platinum, Platinum or Gold certification. Houston has sold over 170 million records worldwide and will always be remembered as one of the Queens of pop.
9. Celine Dion
Celine Dion was born in Quebec, Canada in 1968. Dion was a teen sensation with French singing and later went on to release her first album called Unison. From there Dion went on to release 40 studio and live albums and sold more than 160 million claimed units. Dion is also famous for singing the Titanic theme tune which has sold 2 million singles.
8. Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey was born in 1969 in Huntington, New York. Carey became known when she released her first self-titled debut album in 1990. The album went multi platinum and released four consecutive number one singles. When signing to Columbia Records, Carey followed up her debut album with Emotions, Music Box and Merry Christmas. After releasing those albums she became Columbia Records most successful act. In 2000, Carey signed to Virgin Records for $100 million. Very soon after that, Carey was taken into medical care with severe exhaustion. She was bought out by Island Records and went on to have a successful album called The Emancipation of Mimi. She has been acting recently and dubs herself as a philanthropist. She has sold over 175 million units.
7. Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd founded in 1965 with four initial members. Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright started playing as a band at college and went into the London underground scene during the late 1960’s. Their career as a band lasted for around 30 years, and they finally split up but reunited for Live 8. They sold around 200 million units and this has given them the 7th spot on our list. They released 14 studio albums and went on 12 live international tours.
6. Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin formed in London, England in 1968. The main four members were Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham. Their careers together lasted 12 years (without small reunions) and the band went on to sell 220 million units. They released nine studio albums and three official live albums. They have been credited as the 2nd most successful rock band in the U.S. after The Beatles.
5. Elton John
Reginald Kenneth Dwight A.K.A Elton John’s career has spanned over five decades. Born in 1947 in Middlesex, England, John started playing the piano at the age of 3. Both of his parents could see the talent that their son had which later led to John getting a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. Throughout his time in the music industry, John has sold 300 million records and has had over 50 top 40 singles in the charts. In Billboard he was ranked as the number 3 male solo artist of all time and he ranks at number 5 on our most successful due to the amount of units sold.
Madonna Louise Ciccone was born in Bay City, Michigan in 1958. At a young age, she moved to New York City to pursue a career in modern dance. By chance she was spotted and signed to an affiliate record label of the Warner Bros. Records. She released her self-titled debut album in 1982 and has since gone on to create 26 studio albums and sold an estimated 305 million records. Madonna is now a director and a philanthropist known for her work in Africa.
3. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson is our third most successful artist. The King of Pop career spanned 45 years and resulted in over 350 million claimed unit sales. Although he won around 390 international awards, MJ did not beat our higher selling artists. His documentary This Is It became the highest grossing documentary and concert movie of all time generating $260 million worldwide. Shortly after filming the documentary of his live tour, Jackson passed away. He suffered a cardiac arrest and died in bed. His family still believe that the death is unexplained and there are also many conspiracy theories about his passing.
2. Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was born in 1935 and at just 19 years old he started working with Sun Records. It was at Sun Records where Presley started writing Rhythm and Blues mixed with Country music. “Heartbreak Hotel” was Presley’s first single and went straight to number 1 in the U.S. charts. Presley went on to release over 150 albums/singles throughout his career and has sold an estimate of 500 million units. Elvis passed away in 1977 but his memory will be around for a very long time due to his thriving success.
1. The Beatles
The Beatles were an English pop group from Liverpool. Forming in 1960, the four band members were Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They signed to EMI’s Parlophone label through their producer George Martin. Ever since they signed to EMI their careers never lost momentum. In total The Beatles claimed to have sold over 600 million units and had a very successful decade as a group. They won 14 international awards, all within the space of 10 years together. They are hailed as the most successful band ever and the statistics back them up.