The Top-Selling Artists of All Time: You’ll be Surprised Who Made the Top 50. Take This Quiz.

Beatles on top, Elvis, Zeppelin and Eagles in the top five. The usual suspects, right? Well, let me just ask these questions. (No fair scrolling down for the answers. At least give it your best shot first.)

1. Who has sold more records, Garth Brooks or Michael Jackson?

2. Has AC/DC sold more records than Billy Joel?

3. Would you put your money on Barbra Streisand or the Rolling Stones as the bigger seller?

4. To the nearest ten million, tell me how many records Kenny G has sold.

5. Pick a winner from these three: Guns ‘N Roses, Alabama or Kenny Rogers?


1. Garth Brooks by a substantial margin: 148 million to 81 million. I know!

2. Billy Joel: 82.5 million to 78 million.

3. Babs by a nose: 68.5 million to 66.5 million.

4. 50 million (the actual number is around 48 million)

5. Score them like this: Kenny Rogers (47.5 million), Alabama (46.5 million), GnR (44.5 million).

Have some fun with the rest of the list here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

One thought on “The Top-Selling Artists of All Time: You’ll be Surprised Who Made the Top 50. Take This Quiz.

  • September 15, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Caveats: covers only the US market and uses the dubious metric of RIAA certifications. This may be different in the age of Soundscan data, but there was a time that the record company or artists had to request a tally by the RIAA in order for the certification to be updated. To wit: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon was on the Billboard top 200 for 700+ weeks, but for most of that time was only showing up as a gold record (500,000 sales). EMI eventually got the tally trued up, but it sure seemed strange for an album that (so the story goes) had an entire CD plant in Germany dedicated to its production only showing up gold.


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