Top 10 Best-selling 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.

Note: This ranking only ranks the individually best-selling music artists. Check out the Top 10 best music bands right here.

The 10 Best-Selling Solo Music Artists of all Time

best selling music artists

1. Elvis Presley

elvis presley best-selling music artists singer

Elvis Presley, hailed as 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

Alongside Elvis, Michael Jackson a.k.a. the ‘King of Pop’ is the only 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

If Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, then Madonna is the Queen of Pop. At the same time, Madonna Ciccone (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 four decades. And since her career is still very much ongoing, she may very well make it to five.


4. Elton John

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
Photo credit: EJ Hersom

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


6. Eminem

eminem - sixth of the best-selling music artists


7. Taylor Swift

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


8. Whitney Houston

Black History Month Spotlight: Whitney Houston


9. Mariah Carey


10. Celine Dion


The 10 Best-Selling Music Artists of All Time
(at a glance)

(as of December 2019)

Top 10 Best-Selling Music Artists of All Time
1. ELVIS PRESLEY
~ 1.5 billion units sold
2. MICHAEL JACKSON
~ 1 billion units sold
3. MADONNA
~ 340 million units sold
4. ELTON JOHN
~ 305 million units sold
5. RIHANNA
~ 271 million units sold
6. EMINEM
~ 227 million units sold
7. TAYLOR SWIFT
~ 212 million units sold
8. WHITNEY HOUSTON
~ 205 million units sold
9. MARIAH CAREY
~ 202 million units sold
10. CELINE DION
~ 175 million units sold

Top 10 Best-Selling Music Artists based on number of total albums and singles (units) sold.

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