Who are the world’s best-selling music artists?

I got into an argument with a friend today about how many records Nine Inch Nails have sold to date. He said they were not in the echelon of artists who sold the most mucho wax and plastic. I was surprised to discover he was totally correct. Wikipedia was my teacher as usual. Take a look at this chart:

So besides the fact that Trent and co. are no where to be found on the list there were some interesting surprises. Does anyone know who Alla Pugacheva is? Apparently she is one of Russia’s biggest acts and sits with the the sales numbers of the Madonna, Cher, and Celine Dion. I was also happily surprised to see my fav band Depeche Mode high up on the list in the realm of Genesis, George Michael, Dolly Parton and even the Eagles. Who knew!

So looking at that list is there any band/artist you are shocked to see have sold so many records? Is there anyone you thought were super big time and they are not on the list?

photo credit: maol

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Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to: thehorrorist.com

17 thoughts on “Who are the world’s best-selling music artists?”

  1. alla pugacheva!
    got turned on to the freak phenomena
    of new russian folk pop in berlin @ russen disko night,
    truly the most insane branch of popular music on the planet.
    great stuff, right clickers!

  2. Would’ve never thought that a-ha has so far outsold so many popular artists. I mean, the video was cool and all, but…

    (just kidding, all you a-ha fans out there)

  3. I am impressed at how many records people like a-ha, or the Village People, have sold. I guess I underestimate how truly popular they must have been at the time.

  4. jonathan – its Amoeba Records http://www.amoeba.com/

    They’re in California. There’s 3 but this one looks like the one in San Fran..I was just there in August (visiting, I live in New Jersey) and I will say it could be the greatest store I’ve even entered in my life. The girl i was there visiting kept saying “Um how much longer are we going to be here?”

  5. Very surprised to see that a-ha’s bigger than Nat King Cole, Barbra Streisand, Bruce Springsteen, Duran Duran, James Brown, The Police & The Spice Girls.

    Call me skeptical & somebody edit the page to pop The Horrorist in there with a-ha.

  6. Well, I know they made most of their money from touring and not from record sales, but how can the Rolling Stones not be up there? Something fishy about this list.

  7. Yea the rolling stones have sold an estimated 200 millions, so they should be in the list.
    As far as I know NIN are more into the 20 millions area.

  8. While I love Wikipedia and consult it often, I wouldn’t take it the definitive word on a topic like this. I’m a huge NIN fan, but I wouldn’t expect NIN to gross in the top sales range. Looking at the list, there isn’t a lot of edgy music represented. Artists with long careers or pop stars who inspire adoration of young teens seem to have a better chance of high sales.

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