The 50 best-selling music artists of all time

Theo Wargo/GettyTaylor Swift.
  • The best-selling musicians of all time include pop sensations like Taylor Swift, rock legends like Metallica, and rap stars like Eminem.
  • We ranked the best-selling musicians of all time based on their total certified album units sold in the US according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Six weeks after Taylor Swift dropped her surprise album “Folklore,” it’s still No. 1 on the Billboard album chart. It’s the longest streak for an album since Drake’s “Views” in 2016.

It shows Swift’s popularity with audiences, but the pop star isn’t the highest-selling music artist ever. We turned to the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) list to find out who is. The list is based on total certified album units sold in the US (including streaming figures).

Swift has, however, jumped ahead of Bob Seger and Guns n’ Roses since “Folklore” debuted.

England’s greatest rock band holds the top spot on this all-time ranking of best-selling artists by album sales, and it looks untouchable on a list filled with a number of surprising appearances.

It’s somewhat shocking to find out, for instance, that smooth-jazz saxophonist Kenny G has sold more albums than Eminem, and that country star Garth Brooks has sold more than Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.

John Lynch contributed to a previous version of this post.

Check out the 50 best-selling music artists of all time by album sales:


50. Dave Matthews Band — 34.5 million units

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49. Britney Spears — 34.5 million units

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48. Bon Jovi — 34.5 million units

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47. Queen — 35 million units

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46. Def Leppard — 35.5 million units

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45. Bob Dylan — 36 million units

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44. Tupac Shakur — 36.5 million units

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43. Backstreet Boys — 37 million units

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42. Tim McGraw — 37.5 million units

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41. Rod Stewart — 38 million units

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40. Foreigner — 38 million units

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39. Simon & Garfunkel — 38.5 million units

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38. Chicago — 38.5 million units

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37. Eric Clapton — 40 million units

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36. Reba McEntire — 41 million units

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35. Santana — 43.5 million units

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34. Alan Jackson — 43.5 million units

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33. Guns N’ Roses — 44.5 million units

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32. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band — 44.5 million units

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31. Taylor Swift — 45 million units

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30. Eminem — 46.5 million units

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29. Alabama — 46.5 million units

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28. Kenny Rogers — 47.5 million units

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27. Shania Twain — 48 million units

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26. Kenny G — 48 million units

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25. Journey — 48 million units

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24. Neil Diamond — 49.5 million units

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23. Celine Dion — 50 million units

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22. U2 — 52 million units

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21. Fleetwood Mac — 54.5 million units

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20. Van Halen — 56.5 million units

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19. Whitney Houston — 59 million units

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18. Metallica — 63 million units

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17. Madonna — 64.5 million units

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16. Bruce Springsteen — 65.5 million units

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15. The Rolling Stones — 66.5 million units

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14. Mariah Carey — 66.5 million units

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13. Aerosmith — 66.5 million units

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12. Barbra Streisand — 68.5 million units

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11. George Strait — 69 million units

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10. Pink Floyd — 75 million units

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9. AC/DC — 75 million units

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8. Elton John — 79 million units

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7. Michael Jackson — 84 million units

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6. Billy Joel — 84.5 million units

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5. Led Zeppelin — 111.5 million units

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4. Eagles — 120 million units

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3. Elvis Presley — 146.5 million units

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2. Garth Brooks — 156 million units

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1. The Beatles — 183 million units

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