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.
Music recording sales, commonly called record sales, are activities related to selling albums, singles, or music videos through record shops or online music store. Record sales reached the peak in 1999, when 600 million people spent an average of $64 in buying records, bringing a total of $40 billion sales of recorded music. Sales continued declining in the 21st century. The collapse of record sales also made artists rely on touring for most of their income.
An extended play record, often referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album or LP. Contemporary EPs generally contain a minimum of three tracks and maximum of six tracks, and are considered "less expensive and time-consuming" for an artist to produce than an album. An EP originally referred to specific types of vinyl records other than 78 rpm standard play (SP) and LP, but it is now applied to mid-length CDs and downloads as well.
A compilation album comprises tracks, which may be previously released or unreleased, usually from several separate recordings by either one or several performers. If by one artist, then generally the tracks were not originally intended for release together as a single work, but may be collected together as a greatest hits album or box set. If from several performers, there may be a theme, topic, time period, or genre which links the tracks, or they may have been intended for release as a single work—such as a tribute album. When the tracks are by the same recording artist, the album may be referred to as a retrospective album or an anthology.
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.
21 is the second studio album by English singer-songwriter Adele. It was released on 24 January 2011 in Europe and on 22 February 2011 in North America by XL Recordings and Columbia Records. The album was named after the age of the singer during its production. 21 shares the folk and Motown soul influences of her 2008 debut album 19, but was further inspired by the American country and Southern blues music to which she had been exposed during her 2008–09 North American tour An Evening with Adele. Composed in the aftermath of the singer's separation from her then partner, the album typifies the near dormant tradition of the confessional singer-songwriter in its exploration of heartbreak, self-examination, and forgiveness.
Come Away with Me is the debut studio album by American recording artist Norah Jones, released on February 26, 2002 by Blue Note Records. Recording sessions took place at Sorcerer Sound Studio in New York City and Allaire Studios in Shokan, New York.
The music industry consists of the companies and individuals that earn money by creating new songs and pieces and selling live concerts and shows, audio and video recordings, compositions and sheet music, and the organizations and associations that aid and represent music creators. Among the many individuals and organizations that operate in the industry are: the songwriters and composers who create new songs and musical pieces; the singers, musicians, conductors and bandleaders who perform the music; the companies and professionals who create and sell recorded music and/or sheet music ; and those that help organize and present live music performances.
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.
Music Canada is a Toronto-based, non-profit trade organization that was founded 9 April 1963 to represent the interests of companies that record, manufacture, produce, promote and distribute music in Canada. It also offers benefits to some of Canada's leading independent record labels and distributors.
Pink Floyd were an English rock band formed in London in 1965. They emerged from London's underground music scene during the late 1960s, and became one of the most commercially successful and influential groups in popular music history. Initially gaining a following as a psychedelic rock band, they subsequently became a leading band of the progressive rock genre and were distinguished for their extended compositions, sonic experimentation, philosophical lyrics, and elaborate live shows.
The Wall is the eleventh studio album by English rock band Pink Floyd, released 30 November 1979 on Harvest and Columbia Records. It is a rock opera that explores Pink, a jaded rockstar whose eventual self-imposed isolation from society is symbolised by a wall. The album was a commercial success, topping the US charts for 15 weeks, and reaching number three in the UK. It initially received mixed reviews from critics, many of whom found it overblown and pretentious, but later came to be considered one of the greatest albums of all time.
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
Michael Joseph Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. Dubbed the "King of Pop", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest entertainers. Jackson's contributions to music, dance, and fashion, along with his publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.
Thriller is the sixth studio album by American singer Michael Jackson, released on November 30, 1982, in the United States by Epic Records and internationally by CBS Records. It explores genres similar to Jackson's previous album, Off the Wall (1979), including pop, post-disco, rock and funk. Recording took place from April to November 1982 at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, with a production budget of $750,000.
Céline Marie Claudette Dion is a Canadian singer. Born into a large family from Charlemagne, Quebec, she emerged as a teen star in her homeland with a series of French-language albums during the 1980s. She first gained international recognition by winning both the 1982 Yamaha World Popular Song Festival and the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest, where she represented Switzerland. After learning to speak English, she signed on to Epic Records in the United States. In 1990, Dion released her debut English-language album, Unison, establishing herself as a viable pop artist in North America and other English-speaking areas of the world.
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, rock, R&B||66|
|Eagles||Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)||1976||Country rock, soft rock, folk rock||51|
|AC/DC||Back in Black||1980||Hard 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|
|Meat Loaf||Bat Out of Hell||1977||Hard rock, glam rock, heavy metal||43|
|Eagles||Hotel California||1976||Soft 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|
*All sales figures are shown in millions
|Artist||Album||Released||Genre|| Total certified copies |
(from available markets)*
|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||37|
|Michael Jackson||Bad||1987||Pop, funk, rock||35|
|Alanis Morissette||Jagged Little Pill||1995||Alternative rock||33|
|Celine Dion||Falling into You||1996||Pop, 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|
|Michael Jackson||Dangerous||1991||Rock, funk, pop||32|
|Celine Dion||Let's Talk About Love||1997||Pop, soft rock||31|
|ABBA||Gold: Greatest Hits||1992||Pop, disco||30|
|Madonna||The Immaculate Collection||1990||Pop, dance||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|
|Eminem||The Eminem Show||2002||Hip hop||27|
|Linkin Park||Hybrid Theory||2000||Nu metal, rap metal, alternative metal||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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Eminem||The Marshall Mathers LP||2000||hip-hop||21|
|Madonna||Like a Virgin||1984||Pop, dance||21|
|Bon Jovi||Cross Road||1994||Hard rock, glam metal||21|
|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|
|George Michael||Faith||1987||Pop, R&B, funk, soul||20|
|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|
|Michael Jackson||HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I||1995||Pop, pop rock, funk, R&B, new jack swing||20|
|Michael Jackson||Off the Wall||1979||Soul, disco, 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.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is the organisation that represents the interests of the recording industry worldwide. It is a non-profit members' organisation registered in Switzerland and founded in Italy in 1933. It operates a Secretariat based in London, with regional offices in Brussels, Hong Kong, and Miami.
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|
The complete discography of the English musician Paul McCartney consists of 25 studio albums, four compilation albums, seven 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 recorded his eponymous debut album McCartney (1970) and Ram (1971) with wife Linda McCartney. After Ram, the duo formed Wings and recorded music until 1981.
The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album is a soundtrack album from the film of the same name, released on November 17, 1992, by Arista Records. The album's first side features songs recorded by American singer Whitney Houston, who starred in the film, while side two features the work of various artists. Houston and Clive Davis were co-executive producers of the album.
American singer Britney Spears has released nine studio albums, seven compilation albums, 42 singles, nine promotional singles, and has made three guest appearances. In 1997, Spears signed a recording contract with American record label Jive Records in order to launch her career.
The discography of American pop vocal group Backstreet Boys consists of nine studio albums, 29 singles, one live album, three compilation albums and 32 music videos. Formed in Orlando, Florida in 1993, the group consists of Nick Carter, Brian Littrell, Kevin Richardson, A. J. McLean and Howie Dorough. Richardson left the group in 2006 to pursue other interests, but rejoined in 2012. The Backstreet Boys released their debut single "We've Got It Goin' On" in 1995, which peaked at number sixty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100. The single, however, entered the top ten in many European countries. Their debut album, Backstreet Boys, was released internationally in 1996, and was certified three times platinum in Europe, and diamond in Canada. In 1997, they released their second international album, Backstreet's Back, which continued their international success. At the same time, they released their second self-titled album in the United States. It peaked at number four and eventually became the tenth best-selling album of the 1990s.
American rapper Eminem has released ten studio albums, five compilation albums, five video albums, and 2 EPs. 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 six studio albums, five extended plays (EP), one live album, one compilation album, four video albums, 52 singles, 16 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. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Swift is the third best-selling digital singles artist in the US, totaling single certifications of 120 million downloads and streams. She is the first artist to have four albums sell over one million copies within first week of release on the Billboard 200, and has sold 32.7 million albums in the US. Her UK album and single sales stand at 3.29 million and 15.7 million, respectively.
American singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake has released five studio albums, two compilation albums, three extended plays, and 39 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), 30 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 five studio albums, one film soundtrack, one compilation album, two remix albums, three video albums, four EPs, thirty-one singles, and nine 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.
South Korea-based girl group Girls' Generation have released nine studio albums, two live albums, four extended plays (EPs), and twenty-eight singles. As of November 2012, Girls' Generation has sold over 4.4 million albums and 30 million digital singles. The group has sold over 1.74 million albums in South Korea as of May 2016, and 3.48 million records, including 944,805 physical singles and 1,899,579 albums in Japan as of January 2017.
Canadian recording artist Justin Bieber has released 4 studio albums, 2 compilation albums, three remix albums, 1 extended play, 52 singles, and six promotional singles.
Doo-Wops & Hooligans is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Bruno Mars, which was released on October 4, 2010 by Atlantic and Elektra Records. After the release of the EP It's Better If You Don't Understand (2010), Mars' writing and production team The Smeezingtons began working on the album with Needlz, Supa Dups and Jeff Bhasker as producers. Doo-Wops & Hooligans draws on a variety of influences. Lyrically, the album visualizes carefree optimism along with failed relationships, pain and loneliness. It was promoted primarily through the Doo-Wops & Hooligans Tour (2010–2012) and a number of television appearances. The album title was chosen to reflect simplicity and appeal to males and females.
American singer-songwriter Bruno Mars has released three studio albums, one EP, 27 singles and three promotional singles. To date, he has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him 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". As of 2018, the singer’s total single sales exceed 200 million singles worldwide. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), he is the sixth bestselling digital-single artist in the United States, with sales of 70.5 million. 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.
English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has released four albums, 13 extended plays, 39 singles, 16 singles as a featured artist, six promotional singles, one box set, and 51 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