This is a list of the world's best-selling albums of recorded music. To appear on the list, the figure must have been published by a reliable source and the album must have sold at least 20 million copies. This list can contain any types of album, including studio albums, extended plays, greatest hits, compilations, various artists, soundtracks and remixes. The figures given do not take into account the resale of used albums.
All albums included on this list have their available claimed figures supported by at least 30% in certified copies. The percentage amount of certified sales needed increases the newer the album is, so albums released before 1975 are only expected to have their claimed figures supported by at least 30% in certified copies. However, newer albums, such as 21 and Come Away with Me , are expected to have their claimed figures supported by at least 70% in certified copies. Certified copies are sourced from available online databases of local music industry associations. This is the reason why albums that would otherwise make the list, such as The Sound of Music , In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida , Parallel Lines , Spirits Having Flown , Private Dancer , Janet , Believe , Bolo Ta Ra Ra.. , Human Clay , Laundry Service and Back to Black , have not been included.
As a result of the methodology that the American and Canadian certification-awarding bodies (the RIAA and Music Canada respectively) use, each disc in a multi-disc set is counted as one unit toward certification, leading to many double albums on the list—such as Pink Floyd's The Wall and the Beatles' The Beatles —being certified with a number double the number of copies sold there. Such albums have the certifications for the number of copies (not discs) shipped indicated. Conversely, the American certification level for double albums that fit onto one compact disc, such as the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack reflect the actual number of copies sold. In 2016, RIAA included streaming in addition to track sales and album sales based on the concept of album-equivalent unit for certification purposes, and certification therefore no longer reflects shipment alone.For example, in the update of the certification for Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) by the Eagles in August 2018, the album was certified 38× Platinum (increasing from the previous 29× Platinum certification in 2006) based on the new criteria, making it then the album with the highest certification in the United States.
Michael Jackson's Thriller , estimated to have sold 66 million copies worldwide, is the best-selling album. million copies, these sales figures are unreliable. Jackson also currently has the highest number of albums on the list with five, Celine Dion has four, while Whitney Houston, The Beatles and Madonna each have three.Although sales estimates for Thriller have been as high as 120
Groupings are based on different sales benchmarks, the highest being for claims of at least 40 million copies, and the lowest being for claims of 20–29 million copies. Albums are listed in order of number of copies sold and thereafter by the artist's first name. Markets' order within the table is based on the number of compact discs sold in each market, largest market at the top and smallest at the bottom.
|Greatest hits and compilations|
*All sales figures are shown in millions
|Artist||Album||Released||Genre|| Total certified copies |
(from available markets)*
|Michael Jackson||Thriller||1982||Pop, post-disco, funk, rock||66|
|AC/DC||Back in Black||1980||Hard rock||50|
|Meat Loaf||Bat Out of Hell||1977||Hard rock, glam rock, progressive rock||50|
|Pink Floyd||The Dark Side of the Moon||1973||Progressive rock||45|
|Whitney Houston / Various artists||The Bodyguard||1992||R&B, soul, pop, soundtrack||45|
|Eagles||Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)||1976||Country rock, soft rock, folk rock||42|
|Bee Gees / Various artists||Saturday Night Fever||1977||Disco||40|
|Fleetwood Mac||Rumours||1977||Soft rock||40|
|Shania Twain||Come On Over||1997||Country, pop||40|
|Various artists||Grease: The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture||1978||Rock and roll||38|
|Led Zeppelin||Led Zeppelin IV||1971||Hard rock, heavy metal, folk rock||35|
|Michael Jackson||Bad||1987||Pop, rhythm and blues, funk and rock||35|
|Alanis Morissette||Jagged Little Pill||1995||Alternative rock||33|
|Michael Jackson||Dangerous||1991||New jack swing, R&B and pop||32|
|Celine Dion||Falling into You||1996||Pop, soft rock||32|
|Eagles||Hotel California||1976||Soft rock||32|
|The Beatles||Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band||1967||Rock||32|
|Various artists||Dirty Dancing||1987||Pop, rock, R&B||32|
|Madonna||The Immaculate Collection||1990||Pop, dance||31|
|Celine Dion||Let's Talk About Love||1997||Pop, soft rock||31|
|ABBA||Gold: Greatest Hits||1992||Pop, disco||30|
|The Beatles||Abbey Road||1969||Rock||30|
|Bruce Springsteen||Born in the U.S.A.||1984||Heartland rock||30|
|Dire Straits||Brothers in Arms||1985||Roots rock, blues rock, soft rock||30|
|James Horner||Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture||1997||Film score||30|
|Nirvana||Nevermind||1991||Grunge, alternative rock||30|
|Pink Floyd||The Wall||1979||Progressive rock||30|
|Guns N' Roses||Appetite for Destruction||1987||Hard rock||30|
*All sales figures are shown in millions
|Bon Jovi||Slippery When Wet||1986||Hard rock, glam metal||28|
|Mariah Carey||Music Box||1993||Pop, R&B||28|
|Linkin Park||Hybrid Theory||2000||Nu metal, rap metal, alternative metal||27|
|Eminem||The Eminem Show||2002||Hip hop||27|
|Norah Jones||Come Away with Me||2002||Jazz||27|
|Eric Clapton||Unplugged||1992||Acoustic rock, acoustic blues||26|
|Bob Marley & The Wailers||Legend: The Best of Bob Marley & The Wailers||1984||Reggae||25|
|Phil Collins||No Jacket Required||1985||Pop rock||25|
|Madonna||True Blue||1986||Pop, dance||25|
|Simon & Garfunkel||Bridge over Troubled Water||1970||Folk rock||25|
|U2||The Joshua Tree||1987||Rock||25|
|Prince and The Revolution||Purple Rain||1984||Pop rock, new wave, R&B||25|
|Britney Spears||...Baby One More Time||1999||Pop||25|
|George Michael||Faith||1987||Pop, R&B, funk, soul||25|
|Elton John||Greatest Hits||1974||Pop||24|
|Backstreet Boys||Backstreet's Back / Backstreet Boys||1997||Pop||24|
|Ace of Base||Happy Nation/The Sign||1993||Pop||23|
|Celine Dion||All the Way... A Decade of Song||1999||Pop||22|
|Madonna||Like a Virgin||1984||Pop, dance||22|
|Whitney Houston||Whitney Houston||1985||Pop, R&B||22|
|Oasis||(What's the Story) Morning Glory?||1995||Britpop, rock||22|
|Adele||25||2015||Soul, pop, R&B||22|
|Michael Jackson||HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I||1995||R&B, pop and hip hop||22|
|Ricky Martin||Ricky Martin||1999||Pop, dance-pop and Latin pop||22|
|Eminem||The Marshall Mathers LP||2000||hip-hop||21|
|Bon Jovi||Cross Road||1994||Hard rock, glam metal||21|
|Michael Jackson||Off the Wall||1979||Disco, pop, funk and R&B||20|
|Boston||Boston||1976||Arena rock, hard rock||20|
|Britney Spears||Oops!... I Did It Again||2000||Pop||20|
|Celine Dion||The Colour of My Love||1993||Pop||20|
|Def Leppard||Hysteria||1987||Hard rock, glam metal||20|
|Elvis Presley||Elvis' Christmas Album||1957||Christmas, pop, gospel, rock and roll||25|
|Green Day||Dookie||1994||Pop punk, punk rock, alternative rock||20|
|Lionel Richie||Can't Slow Down||1983||Pop, R&B, soul||20|
|Mariah Carey||Daydream||1995||Pop, R&B||20|
|Shania Twain||The Woman in Me||1995||Country, pop||20|
|Supertramp||Breakfast in America||1979||Progressive rock, art rock||20|
|Tracy Chapman||Tracy Chapman||1988||Folk rock||20|
|Various artists||Flashdance: Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture||1983||Electro, synthpop||20|
|Whitney Houston||Whitney||1987||Pop, R&B||20|
The inclusion or exclusion of items from this list or length of this list is disputed.July 2013)(
|Year record set||Artist||Album||Record setting sales (millions)||Total sales (millions)||Ref(s)|
|1945||Various Artists||Oklahoma! (78 rpm album)||0.5||1.0|
|1956||Various Artists||Oklahoma! (LP album)||1.75||2.5|
|1956/1957||Various Artists||My Fair Lady||2||5|
|1960||Various Artists||South Pacific||2.25||3|
|1963||Vaughn Meader||The First Family||4||7.5|
|1968||Various Artists||The Sound of Music||8 WW|
|1975/1976||Various Artists||The Sound of Music||10–15 SM-T|
|1976||Carole King||Tapestry||13.5 SM-T||25|
|1979||Bee Gees/Various Artists||Saturday Night Fever||25–27||40|
The charts of the best-selling albums by year in the world are compiled by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry annually since 2001. These charts are published in their two annual reports, the Digital Music Report and the Recording Industry in Numbers. Both the Digital Music Report and the Recording Industry in Numbers were replaced in 2016 by the Global Music Report.
Units sold include physical copies and digital downloads.
|2001||Hybrid Theory||Linkin Park||8.5|
|2002||The Eminem Show||Eminem||13.9|
|2003||Come Away with Me||Norah Jones||18.0|
|2006||High School Musical||Various Artists||7.0|
|2007||High School Musical 2||6.0|
|2008||Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends||Coldplay||6.8|
|2009||I Dreamed a Dream||Susan Boyle||8.3|
|2013||Midnight Memories||One Direction||4.0|
|2018||The Greatest Showman||Various Artists||3.5|
|2019||5x20 All the Best!! 1999–2019||Arashi||3.3|
The discography of English musician Paul McCartney consists of 25 studio albums, four compilation albums, eight live albums, 37 video albums, two extended plays, 99 singles, seven classical albums, two electronica albums, two box sets, and 74 music videos. Before his career as a solo artist, McCartney enjoyed success as a member of the rock band the Beatles. After their break-up in 1970, McCartney released his eponymous debut album McCartney, the 1971 single "Another Day" and Ram with wife Linda McCartney, all of which were commercial successes, with the latter being supported by his first number one single "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey". After Ram, the duo formed Wings and recorded music until 1981.
The discography of Iron Maiden, an English heavy metal band founded in 1975 by bassist Steve Harris, includes sixteen studio albums, as well as numerous live albums, compilations, EPs, singles, video albums, music videos, and box sets. After several personnel changes, they released their self-titled debut album in 1980 with vocalist Paul Di'Anno, guitarists Dave Murray and Dennis Stratton, and drummer Clive Burr, quickly becoming one of the leading proponents of the new wave of British heavy metal movement.
The discography of American singer Whitney Houston (1963–2012) consists of seven studio albums, six compilations, two soundtrack albums, five box sets, six extended plays, and 57 singles. In 1985, Houston released her self-titled debut album. It spent 14 weeks at No.1 on the Billboard 200 and was certified 13x platinum (Diamond) by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), with global sales of 22 million copies. The album produced four US top 5 singles, including three Billboard Hot 100 No.1 singles. In 1987, Houston released her second album Whitney. The album debuted at No.1 on the Billboard 200 and was supported by four US number-one singles: "I Wanna Dance with Somebody ", "Didn't We Almost Have It All", "So Emotional", and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go", which established an unprecedented seven consecutive No.1 hits by a performer. Whitney was certified Diamond by the RIAA and topped the charts in numerous countries, having sold in excess of 20 million copies worldwide. Houston's third studio album, I'm Your Baby Tonight (1990), peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 chart and yielded two number-one singles; "I'm Your Baby Tonight" and "All the Man That I Need", selling 10 million units worldwide. In February 1991, Houston released "The Star Spangled Banner" performance from Super Bowl XXV as a single, becoming the highest-charting rendition of the national anthem on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Barbadian singer Rihanna has released eight studio albums, two compilation albums, two remix albums, one reissue, and 71 singles. Since the beginning of her career in 2005, Rihanna has sold over 250 million records and singles, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time. She has released seven Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified platinum and multi-platinum albums in the United States, that have totalled sales of over 10 million copies in the country. Fourteen of Rihanna's singles have reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, giving her the fourth most number-one singles on the chart. She is the only artist that produced number-one singles on the Hot 100 chart from seven consecutive albums.
American singer Madonna has released 14 studio albums, three soundtrack albums, five live albums, six compilation albums, and 35 other limited releases. In 1982, Madonna signed a recording contract with Sire Records, a label owned by Warner Bros. Records. The first release under the label was her self-titled debut album, Madonna (1983). It peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200 and was certified five-time platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). She followed the debut album with Like a Virgin (1984), which became her first chart-topper in various countries and was certified diamond by the RIAA. Her third studio album, True Blue (1986), reached number one in then record-breaking 28 countries and was featured in the 1992 edition of Guinness World Records as the best-selling album by a woman of all time. During 1987, she released two albums that reached platinum status in the United States: the Who's That Girl soundtrack and her first remix compilation, You Can Dance. Madonna's fourth studio album, Like a Prayer (1989), made her the woman with most Billboard 200 number-one albums of the 1980s.
American rapper Eminem has released eleven studio albums, five compilation albums, and one EP. His music has been released on record labels Web Entertainment and Interscope Records, along with subsidiaries Aftermath Entertainment, Goliath Artists and his own Shady Records. Eminem is the best-selling hip hop artist of all-time and the best-selling artist of the 2000s with US album sales at over 32.2 million during the decade. His worldwide albums and singles sales stand at 100 million. In his home country, he has earned 50 platinum album certifications and ten number one albums.
The Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana (FIMI) is an umbrella organization that keeps track of virtually all aspects of the music recording industry in Italy. It was established in 1992, when major corporate labels left the previously existing Associazione dei Fonografici Italiani (AFI). During the following years, most of the remaining Italian record labels left AFI to join the new organization. As of 2011, FIMI represents 2,500 companies operating in the music business.
American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has released seven studio albums, five extended plays (EP), two live albums, one compilation album, 55 singles, 19 promotional singles, and 44 music videos. With estimated sales of over 50 million albums and 150 million singles worldwide, Swift is one of the best-selling music artists. In the US, Swift is the third best-selling digital singles artist with 121 million certified units, is the first artist to have four albums sell over one million copies within the first week on the Billboard 200, and has sold 37.3 million albums. Her UK album and single sales stand at 3.34 million and 17 million, respectively.
American singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake has released five studio albums, two compilation albums, three extended plays, and 40 singles. Timberlake initially started his music career in 1995, as a member of boy band NSYNC. Following the group's hiatus in 2002, he released his solo debut studio album, Justified, in November that same year. The album was a commercial success and peaked at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart and additionally topped the charts in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Justified earned multiple multi-platinum certifications, including a triple platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and a sextuple platinum certification from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). It produced four singles: "Like I Love You", "Cry Me a River", "Rock Your Body" and "Señorita"; all performed well commercially, with two of them becoming top 5 hits on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and top two hits on the UK Singles Chart. "Rock Your Body" also reached number one in Australia.
American singer Katy Perry has released five studio albums, one live album, two extended plays (EP), 34 singles, and five promotional singles. Perry has been certified for 101 million digital singles and 6 million albums in the United States. She is also the fifth best selling digital singles artist in the US according to Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Throughout her career, Perry has sold over 18 million albums and 125 million singles globally. She currently holds the record for most 5-million-selling singles in the United States, with six of her singles selling over 5 million. Perry also holds the record for the most 6-million-selling songs, with three of her songs—"Firework", "Roar", and "Dark Horse"—selling over 6 million copies. All three have also received Diamond song certifications from the RIAA, making her the first artist to accomplish such a feat.
American singer Lady Gaga has released six studio albums, one film soundtrack, one compilation album, two remix albums, three video albums, four EPs, thirty-three singles, and twelve promotional singles. Gaga made her debut in August 2008 with the studio album The Fame, which peaked at number two in the United States, where it was subsequently certified triple Platinum, while topping the charts in Austria, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Its first two singles, "Just Dance" and "Poker Face", were both successful worldwide, reaching number one in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The album spawned three more singles: "Eh, Eh ", "LoveGame" and "Paparazzi". The latter reached the top ten in many countries worldwide, and number one in Germany.
Canadian singer Justin Bieber has released 5 studio albums, 3 compilation albums, three remix albums, 7 extended plays, 40 singles, and seven promotional singles.
American singer-songwriter Bruno Mars has released three studio albums, one EP, 27 singles and three promotional singles. With estimated sales of over 26 million albums and 200 million singles worldwide, Mars is one of the best-selling artists of all time. Six of his singles are among the best-selling singles of all time: in order of release date, "Just the Way You Are", "Grenade", "The Lazy Song", "When I Was Your Man", "Uptown Funk" and "That's What I Like". According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), he has sold 69.5 million copies in the United States. His first two albums have sold 5.04 million copies in the US alone. In 2012, Mars was named 2011's best selling music artist worldwide.
British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has released four studio albums, 17 extended plays, one video album, forty-two singles, including 17 singles as a featured artist, six promotional singles, one box set, and 71 music videos.
The lone #1 single from the 32-million selling Dangerous, “Black or White” spent seven weeks atop the Billboard charts.
The next two BSB albums ("Backstreet's Back" and "Millennium") enjoyed worldwide sales of 24 million copies each.
first time that a complete score of a Broadway musical was put on wax, by 1945 sales were at half a million
1 million copies were sold by 1958, 2.25 million by 1960, almost 3 million by 1963
...25 million copies sold worldwide by May 1, 1979