Online label manufacturer www.data-label.co.uk compiled this list of the biggest record labels companies and their artists who have sold the most.
First, a list of the main record labels through history. The ones in bold are/were considered to be “major labels” through the latter part of the 20th century and/or today.
- Warner Music Group: Founded 1958. One of today’s major labels.
- EMI (UK): Founded 1931. Broken up in 2012.
- EMI (USA): Founded 1973. Acquired by Universal in 2012.
- Sony Music (known as CBS Records until January 1991): Founded 1929. Another major label of today/
- Universal Music Group (UMG) – Roots go back to 1934 as Decca Records. The largest of the major labels.
- BMG: Founded 1987. Assets sold to Sony.
- MCA Records: Founded 1967. Now part of Universal.
- Virgin Records: Founded 1972. Now part of Universal.
- Polygram Records: Founded 1962. Now part of Universal.
- Motown Records: Founded 1959. Now part of Universal.
- Island Records: Founded 1959. Now part of Universal.
- ABC Records: Founded 1955. Absorbed by MCA in 1979. Now part of Universal.
- Atlantic Records: Founded 1953. Now part of Warner.
- RCA Records: Founded 1901. Now part of Sony.
- Columbia Records: Founded 1887. Now part of Sony.
Top 10 most successful bands by record sales (well, the best estimates we have):
- The Beatles – 178 million sold.
- Garth Brooks – 148 million sold.
- Elvis Presley – 136 million sold.
- Led Zeppelin – 111.5 million sold.
- Eagles – 101 million sold.
- Billy Joel – 82.5 million sold.
- Michael Jackson – 81 million sold.
- Elton John – 78 million sold.
- Pink Floyd – 75 million sold.
- AC/DC – 72 million sold.