Swift’s popularity with fans is evident, yet she isn’t the artist with the most records sold. To figure out who is, we looked at the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) list. Based on total certified album units sold in the US, this list was created including streaming figures.
However, after the release of “Folklore,” Swift has overtaken both Bob Seger and Guns n’ Roses in popularity.
This all-time ranking of the best-selling musicians by record sales is topped by England’s finest rock band, and it appears untouchable on a list with a number of unexpected placements.
For example, it’s surprising to learn that country singer Garth Brooks has sold more records than Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, and that smooth-jazz saxophonist Kenny G has outsold rapper Eminem in album sales.
An earlier version of this essay included contributions from John Lynch.
1. Pink Floyd
The 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon spent a record-breaking 741 weeks on the Billboard chart between 1973 and 1988. Despite being Pink Floyd’s best-selling album globally, it comes in second with 17 million sales in the United States, after the double album The Wall 23 million.
In 1965, Syd Barrett (guitar, lead vocals), Nick Mason (drums), Roger Waters (bass guitar, vocals), and Richard Wright formed the band Pink Floyd (keyboards, vocals).
Before formally going by the name “Pink Floyd,” the band had already experienced numerous incarnations and aliases. The band was led by Barrett, who also oversaw the successful debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and the release of two chart-topping singles (1967).
Pink Floyd – The Wall (1982), a musical adaptation of The Wall, received two BAFTA Awards.
2. Billy Joel
Only two of Billy Joel‘s thirteen studio albums Cold Spring Harbor and Fantasies & Delusions have not achieved platinum status.
The Stranger, which has achieved 13x platinum sales, is his best-selling album. However, even that pales in comparison to the 23x platinum sales of his Greatest Hits, Volume I & Volume II.
Joel was honored by the Kennedy Center in 2013 for his contributions to American culture through the arts. Joel has had a great traveling career since the beginning of his solo career, doing live performances all over the world.
He was among the first musicians to perform a rock tour in the Soviet Union in 1987 after the nation’s rock music ban was relaxed. Following the release of River of Dreams, he mostly stopped writing and producing pop music, but he has continued to tour and frequently appears at Madison Square Garden.
3. Elton John
Due to the 2019 release of his biopic Rocketman, which follows the life of Elton John, his record sales of more than 200 million albums worldwide are anticipated to rise. In his illustrious career, John has released 30 studio albums, with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road topping the U.S. charts with 8 million copies sold.
Hercules, Sir Elton John CH CBE is a British vocalist, pianist, and composer who was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947.
John, who gained the moniker “the Rocket Man” following his popular song of the same name in 1972, has had a long and successful solo career, releasing 31 albums since 1969.
John has been working with lyricist Bernie Taupin since 1967, and both musicians and reviewers praise him for his work in the 1970s and his long-lasting influence on the music business. John’s music and stage presence have made a big difference in popular music.
4. The Beatles
The Beatles have sold 600 million albums as of 2019; 183 million of those sales were made in the United States alone. In April 1964, the band occupied the top five positions on the Billboard 100.
That accomplishment is probably never going to be matched. In that year, they earned $25 million, which is equivalent to more than $197 million now.
5. The Eagles
The Eagles’ 1976 album Their Greatest Hits 1971–1975 is the best-selling record in American history. With 45 million copies sold worldwide, it is one of the albums with the biggest sales with 29 million copies sold.
This album outsold Michael Jackson’s Thriller thanks to songs like “Take It Easy,” “Desperado,” “One of These Nights,” “Take It To The Limit,” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” The fact that the album was released before the band finished recording Hotel California only adds to how great this is.
6. Led Zeppelin
The 1971 album Led Zeppelin IV or Zoso is the ninth best-selling album of all time and the best-selling record for Led Zeppelin. The album has received a 23x platinum certification in the United States and is thought to have sold over 37 million copies overall.
The classic “Stairway to Heaven,” largely regarded as one of the finest rock songs ever recorded, serves as the album’s high point.
7. Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones’ greatest hits collection, Hot Rocks 1964–1971, which has sold 12 million copies in the U.S., is once again the album with the highest sales. With 6 million copies sold, Some Girls is their best-selling studio album.
Amazingly, with Blue & Lonesome in 2016, the Stones charted their 37th top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 chart.
8. Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen has continuously recorded since 1973 and has 19 studio albums to his credit. With 15 million copies sold, Born In The U.S.A. outsells all of his other studio albums combined, but Live/1975-85, his greatest hits collection, isn’t far behind with 13 million.
The Boss may eventually outsell Aerosmith in sales as he has just hinted at a new E Street Band record in 2020 that would be backed by a tour.
The fifth studio album by Metallica usually referred to as “The Black Album,” has sold more than 16 million copies in the United States, more than double the sales of their next best-selling record.
“Enter Sandman,” “The Unforgiven,” “Nothing Else Matters,” “Wherever I May Roam,” and “Sad but True” were the five singles that were made available.
Over 100 million albums by the band have been sold globally. Fun fact: The cassette version of the album sold close to 6 million copies.
10. Fleetwood Mac
Even though Fleetwood Mac’s entire career may go unnoticed by casual fans, their debut studio album was published in 1968. Future Games, the band’s sixth studio album, was the first to noticeably boost sales in the country.
With the arrival of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, the band’s 10th Fleetwood Mac and 11th albums, however, were what really cemented their status as household names. With over 13 million copies sold, Rumors continues to be their best-selling book.