Top 10 Best-selling Solo Music Artists of all Time

They have each sold hundreds of millions of records and have each contributed to the world of music in their own unique ways. The music business is constantly changing. But it always produces certain best-selling music artists who are just special and manage to captivate listeners all around the world, regardless of background, gender or age. The following list shows you the top 10 best-selling solo music artists of all time. The ranking is based on certified record sales of singles and albums in markets that release these official certification numbers.

best selling music artists

The 10 Best-Selling Solo Music Artists of all Time

(as of September 2019)

1.5 billion units sold
1 billion units sold
340 million units sold
305 million units sold
271 million units sold
227 million units sold
212 million units sold
205 million units sold
202 million units sold
175 million units sold

1. Elvis Presley

elvis presley best-selling music artist singer

Active years: 1954 – 1977
Main genre: Rock and Roll
Best-selling album: Elvis’ Christmas Album (1957)
Best-selling single: It’s Now or Never (1960)

The King of Rock ‘n Roll is also the best-selling music artist of all time. Elvis Presley sold an estimated 1.5 billion records to date. Most of them after his death in 1977. It wasn’t only his music that made Elvis stand out, but he also revolutionized the way musicians act on-stage and are perceived off-stage. Elvis isn’t just a music legend, but also a cultural phenomenon that is revered by million of people around the world even still today.

2. Michael Jackson

michael jackson second best selling

Active years: 1964 – 2009
Main genre: Pop
Best-selling album: Thriller (1982)
Best-selling single: Billie Jean (1983)

Alongside Elvis, the King of Pop is the other solo artist to have sold more than a billion records worldwide. Michael Jackson first started out as one of the ‘Jackson 5’, but really became a world megastar as a solo artist. Much like Elvis, Michael Jackson defined an entire generation and changed the music world forever. His album ‘Thriller’ is still the best-selling album in history.

3. Madonna

madonna best selling female music artist singer

Active years: 1979 – present
Main genre: Pop
Best-selling album: The Immaculate Collection (1990)
Best-selling single: Hung Up (2005)

If Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, then Madonna is the Queen of Pop. At the same time, Madonna Cicone (her full name) is also the best-selling female solo music artist of all time. Madonna is also one of the few artists that manged to stay relevant and successful throughout 4 decades. And since her career is still very much ongoing, she may very well make it 5.

4. Elton John

 elton john best british singer

Active years: 1964 – present
Main genre: Pop
Best-selling album: Greatest Hits (1974)
Best-selling single: Candle in the Wind (1997)

With more than 300 million records sold, Elton John is the world’s best-selling non-American music artist. The British singer and songwriter started out in the 1960s, but has stayed successful until today. His single ‘Candle in the Wind’ from 1997, meant as a tribute to Lady Diana who tragically died in a car accident that year, is still the fourth best-selling single in music history.

5. Rihanna

rihanna most successful non-american singer

Active years: 2005 – present
Main genre: R&B
Best-selling album: Good Girl Gone Bad (2007)
Best-selling single: Work (2016)

Having only started her career in 2005 but already selling more than 200 million records worldwide, Rihanna can be seen as perhaps the fastest risen music star in the world. The Barbados native is also the most successful non-American born female singer of all time. And considering Rihanna Fenty (her full name) is only in her 30s, a lot more can be expected for her career.

6. Eminem

Image result for eminem

Active years: 1996 – present
Main genre: Hip Hop
Best-selling album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Best-selling single: Love the Way You Lie (2010)

7. Taylor Swift

Image result for taylor swift
Credit: Eva Rinaldi / CC BY-SA 2.0

Active years: 2006 – present
Main genre: Pop
Best-selling album: 1989 (2014)
Best-selling single: Blank Space (2014)

8. Whitney Houston

Black History Month Spotlight: Whitney Houston

Active years: 1977 – 2012
Main genre: R&B
Best-selling album: Whitney Houston (1985)
Best-selling single: I Will Always Love You (1992)

9. Mariah Carey


Active years: 1988 – present
Main genre: R&B
Best-selling album: Music Box (1993)
Best-selling single: All I Want for Christmas Is You (1994)

10. Celine Dion


Active years: 1981 – present
Main genre: Pop
Best-selling album: Falling Into You (1996)
Best-selling single: My Heart Will Go On (1997)

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