Perhaps unsurprisingly, British rock band The Beatles topped the list of best-selling artists worldwide with 183 million certified units sold. Garth Brooks is second with more than 157 million units sold, followed by Elvis Presley with 139 million units sold. All of the artists that made the top 20 list are internationally recognized for their contributions to music, from British pop icon Elton John to American rock legends like Metallica.
What do top-selling artists have in common?
Artists in the top 20 of the certified sales charts around the world have made their mark on music in unique ways. It is worth noting, however, that many of the artists on the list achieved fame and success several decades ago and have been fortunate enough to leave a lasting impression. Most of the musicians on the list were born in the United States or the United Kingdom and began their musical careers in the 1960s or 1970s.
The music of the 1960s is often seen as revolutionary, with politicized songs by the likes of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez gaining tremendous popularity and psychedelic rock becoming one of the musical hallmarks of the era. British psychedelic/progressive rock band Pink Floyd, as well as rock groups The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, all formed in London in the 1960s, as did The Beatles, who began their careers in Liverpool earlier in the decade.
Which artists are still active today?
As of 2022, only a few of the artists who made the list are still active. The American band Eagles toured regularly throughout their long career.
Unfortunately, however, some of the world's best-selling musicians have passed away, including Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson. Certain groups are still musically active, but few have retained their original line-up. Australian rock 'n' roll band AC/DC have gone through several line-up changes over the years, most recently frontman Brian Johnson being replaced by Guns n' Roses frontman Axl Rose.