How well do you know the players in the recording industry?

Online label manufacturer 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):

  1. The Beatles – 178 million sold.
  2. Garth Brooks – 148 million sold.
  3. Elvis Presley – 136 million sold.
  4. Led Zeppelin – 111.5 million sold.
  5. Eagles – 101 million sold.
  6. Billy Joel – 82.5 million sold.
  7. Michael Jackson – 81 million sold.
  8. Elton John – 78 million sold.
  9. Pink Floyd – 75 million sold.
  10. AC/DC – 72 million sold.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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