The 12 Best-Selling Male Artists of All Time

best-selling male artists

There’s no Suspicious Minds, Slim Shady or Smooth Criminal without some of the world’s biggest-selling male artists. Heck, we wouldn’t even have the Moonwalk or Yeezy trainers if it weren’t for the success of these singers and rappers.

So, which male artists have raked in all the success in music? And which superstars have sold more records than you can even imagine?

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Here, we present to you the 12 best-selling male artists of all time. Check out how many singles and albums they’ve sold over the decades and what has made their musical careers become a roaring success.

Information was derived from Wikipedia‘s Claimed Sales.

12. Chris Brown

Sales: 140 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Run It, Kiss Kiss
Best-Selling Album: 
Chris Brown

Chris Brown may be one of the most controversial celebrities of all time, but he’s also one of the most successful male artists in the world. The star rose to fame at the mere age of 19 and quickly impressed all with his inspiring vocals and impeccable dance moves. Although his bad boy behavior hits headlines now, there’s still no denying this superstar’s immense talent.

Albums Success

Since his career blossomed in 2007, Chris Brown has accumulated three number-one albums on the US Billboard 200 including F.A.M.E, Fortune and Indigo. His other albums have also triumphed such as Chris Brown, which reached number two on the US Billboard 200 and was certified double Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

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Exclusive was also certified double Platinum, while his eighth studio album Heartbreak on a Full Moon helped Brown become the first R&B male artist to go Gold in a week since Usher’s Confessions in 2004.

Singles Success

According to Billboard, Brown has the eighth most Hot 100 entries on the Billboard chart with 101 songs.

After he dropped Run It in 2007, Brown became the first male artist since 1997 to have his debut single top the chart, where it spent a month at. Say Goodbye, Turn Up the Music and Don’t Wake Me Up also became US top 10 singles.

Yeah 3x peaked within the top 10 in many countries around the world, while Billboard reports that Go Crazy spent 28 weeks at No. 1, breaking the record for the longest running No. 1 song on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.

Other Ventures

Other than singing and dancing, Chris Brown has dabbled in acting, too, starring in movies Stomp the Yard and Takers. The singer has taken home a Grammy for Best R&B Album (F.A.M.E), 15 BET Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, and six Soul Train Music Awards.

11. Phil Collins

Sales: 150 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Against All Odds, Sussudio, One More Night, Seperate Lives, A Groovy Kind of Love, Two Hearts, Another Day in Paradise
Best-Selling Album: 
No Jacket Required

This British singer and drummer originated in the rock band Genesis, but it was his solo endeavors that helped him become one of the top-selling male artists in the world. The pop and rock legend gained worldwide stardom in the 1980s and is one three artists (Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson) to sell 100 million records as both a solo artist and as part of a band.

Albums Success

Phil Collins has released a total of eight studio albums that have sold 33.5 million certified units in the US. While the iconic drummer has had six UK number-one albums (Face Value, No Jacket Required & others), only two albums have peaked atop of the US Billboard Hot 200 including No Jacket Required and …But Seriously.

No Jacket Required is Collins’ best-selling album of his career and has been certified Diamond in the US for sales over 10 million.

Singles Success

With a total of 150 million records sold worldwide, seven singles from Phil Collins’ song collection have reached the top spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 including Against All Odds, Separate Lives and A Groovy Kind of Love.

Other Ventures

When summing up Phil Collins’ career as part of the band Genesis as well as a solo artist, he has had more US top 40 singles than any other artist during the 1980s. The star is also the proud owner of eight Grammy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and one Academy Award. He also happens to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

10. Billy Joel

Sales: 150 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me, Tell Her About It, We Didn’t Start the Fire
Best-Selling Album: 
Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2

Pop-rock idol Billy Joel released his last successful album in 1993, and yet he remains popular enough to make it onto this list and famously regularly fill Madison Square Garden. Mainly known for his biggest tracks, Uptown Girl and The Longest Time, “The Piano Man” (nicknamed) is categorized as the tenth top-selling male artist of all time.

Albums Success

This world renowned singer-songwriter has released a total of 13 studio albums, six live albums, 16 compilation albums and 10 video albums. Four of his albums had major success in the US.; 52nd Street being his first album to reach No.1 on the Billboard 200 chart, while his 1985 compilation album, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2 is one of the best-selling albums in the United States.

Singles Success

Out of the 61 singles he’s released, Billy Joel has had 33 top 40 hits in the US. Uptown Girl and The Longest Time may be his best-known songs, but It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me, Tell Her About It, and We Didn’t Start the Fire are the only hits that peaked at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Other Ventures

“The Piano Man” has done voiceover work for the Disney film Oliver & Company, and he has also been nominated for 23 Grammy Awards, winning five of them. Joel is listed in the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1992) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1999) and currently frequently performs at Madison Square Garden.

9. Ed Sheeran

Sales: 150 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Shape of You, Perfect
Best-Selling Album: 
X

There’s no listening to the radio without hearing British singer Ed Sheeran. Heck, you can’t even go to a wedding without hearing a romantic Ed Sheeran track as the couple’s first dance song. With 84.5 million RIAA-certified units in the US, this popstar has dominated pop music with his mega hits ever since his rise to stardom in 2011.

Albums Success

A man of many talents, all four of Ed Sheeran’s albums have reached the number-one spot in the UK Albums Chart. + (Plus) sold over 100,000 copies in its first week, while his second album × (Multiply) went to No.1 in the US and became the second-best-selling album worldwide of 2015.

Sheeran’s third studio album ÷ (Divide) debuted at No. 1 in 14 countries, becoming the best-selling album worldwide of 2017.

Singles Success

“Teddy’s” (nicknamed) debut single, A Team had global success, reaching the top 10 in numerous countries, while future tracks including Shape of You and Castle on the Hill, broke international records by debuting in the top two spots of the charts. These tracks also made Sheeran the first artist to have two songs debut in the US top 10 in the same week.

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Divide was such a hit record, that every track reached the top 20 of the UK Singles Chart in the week of the album’s release, while Shape of You and Perfect, hit number-one in the US.

With a career of more than 10 years, overall, this superstar’s song sales have surpassed 18.9 million downloads in the United States as of July 2015.

Other Ventures

This leading man has four Billboard Awards, four Brit Awards and four Grammys which include Song of the Year (Thinking Out Loud) and Best Pop Solo Performance in 2016; Best Pop Solo Performance (Shape of You) and Best Pop Vocal Album (Divide).

Sheeran was dubbed the world’s best-selling artist of 2017, the Global Recording Artist of the Year, the Official Charts Company’s artist of the decade in 2019, and the second most-streamed artist of the decade in that same year.

8. Justin Bieber

Sales: 150 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Despacito, What Do You Mean, Sorry, Love Yourself, Stuck With U, Peaches
Best-Selling Album: 
Purpose

Love him or hate him, this teen idol is as expected, one of the most successful male artists ever. Justin Bieber has been pouring out music since the age of 16, and has since been dubbed the Prince of Pop. Although involved in various controversies, there’s no escaping this young boy’s talent and incredible music.

Albums Success

There’s a reason why this guy is so popular. Bieber became the youngest solo male artist to top the Billboard 200 chart in 47 years upon the release of his first studio album, My World 2.0. He was also the first male singer to have a Christmas album (Under the Mistletoe) debut at number-one in the US.

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The superstar’s four subsequent albums also landed at number-one in the Billboard 200 chart, with Believe topping the charts in 16 countries worldwide.

Changes made Biebs the youngest solo artist to have seven albums at number-one in the US, breaking a 59-year-old record held by Elvis Presley. 

Singles Success

It comes as no surprise that Bieber’s most famous single, Baby is one of America’s highest certified singles of all time.

Other accomplishments include his remix for Despacito, which is one of the few singles in the world to spend the most weeks (16) at number-one in the Billboard Hot 100 and it made Bieber the first artist in history to “chart new number-one singles in consecutive weeks”.

The pop legend has accumulated three Diamond certifications from the RIAA for Baby, Sorry and Despacito and overall, has had five number-one singles in the US.

Other Ventures

All in all, Justin Bieber’s career boasts 28 Guinness World Records, two Grammy Awards, a record 21 MTV Europe Music Awards and 20 Billboard Music Awards.

He’s been named one of Forbes’ top 10 most powerful celebrities, while his video clip for Sorry is ranked among the top 25 most popular music videos in the world.

7. Kanye West

Sales: 160 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Slow Jamz, Stronger, Gold Digger, E.T
Best-Selling Album:
The College Dropout

From being one of rap’s leading legends to dabbling in fashion and expressing his outspoken views, the controversial Kanye West has undoubtedly been influential in pop culture today. The hip-hop artist has sold over 160 million records worldwide and is officially one of the most awarded artists of all time.

Albums Success

With more than 20 million albums sold, and with a certified 24 million equivalent albums units in the US, Kanye West is among the highest-certified music artists.

Of his nine studio albums, eight have reached number-one. His debut album The College Dropout peaked at number two on the Billboard 200, while his second album Late Registration became the ninth best-selling album of 2005.

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Graduation was the fastest-selling album in the US since Late Registration and it broke the record for most digital albums sold in a week. His collaboration with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne, broke the US iTunes first-week sales record while Jesus Is King made him tie Eminem as the only other artist to have nine successive studio albums debut at number-one the Billboard 200.

Singles Success

“Yeezy” has sold more than 140 million singles worldwide and is one of only six artists in the US to be certified for over 100 million digital singles by the RIAA. The rapper boasts 18 top 10s, and four number-one singles including Stronger and Gold Digger.

Gold Digger, in particular, spent 10 weeks at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100, broke digital download records, and was the ninth biggest Hot 100 hit of the 2000s decade. West also had the most number-one songs on the Hot Rap Songs chart as the 2000s decade ended.

Other Ventures

With 22 Grammy Awards under his belt, Ye is one of the most awarded artists ever. He has also won the Billboard Artist Achievement Award, while six of his albums are included on Rolling Stone’s 2020 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

Other than music, Kanye has dabbled in many business ventures including collaborations with Nike, Louis Vuitton, and now has his own Yeezy collaboration with Adidas. 

6. Garth Brooks

Sales: 170 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): If Tomorrow Never Comes, The Dance, Friends in Low Places, Unanswered Prayers, Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House, The Thunder Rolls, Shameless, What She’s Doing Now, The River, Somewhere Other Than the Night, That Summer, Ain’t Goin’ Down, American Honky-Tonk Bar Association, She’s Every Woman, The Beaches of Cheyenne, Longneck Bottle, Two Piña Coladas, To Make You Feel My Love, More Than a Memory
Best-Selling Album:
No Fence

Second only to the Beatles in total album sales overall, Garth Brooks is at the halfway mark as one of the most successful male singers in the world. The American singer and songwriter has gifted fans with his country music as well as rock and pop hits ever since the 1980s and is still to this day, releasing tracks and continuing his music legacy.

Albums Success

Garth Brooks has sold approximately 156 million domestic units of albums, making him the best-selling solo albums artist in the US. This places the country star ahead of Elvis Presley and second to the Beatles. He also has nine albums that achieved Diamond status in the US, being the only artist in history to do so.

The entertainer has released 18 albums, most of which have peaked on both the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums charts.

Singles Success

Out of his 51 singles released since the late 80s, Garth Brooks has accumulated a staggering 19 number-one singles in the US including If Tomorrow Never Comes, The Thunder Rolls and To Make You Feel My Love.

Other Ventures

This country legend has bagged himself two Grammy Awards and 17 American Music Awards and even has the RIAA Award for best-selling solo albums artist of the century in the US. Garth Brooks also has a well-deserved spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

5. Drake

Sales: 170 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): One Dance, God’s Plan, Nice For What, In My Feelings, Toosie Slide, What’s Next
Best-Selling Album:
Take Care

Jumping straight off a TV show and hopping onto the music scene in the mid-noughties, Drake has built a successful career as the fifth best-selling male artist in the world. With countless number-one albums and singles under his belt, as well as a personal life that everyone is obsessed with, this rapper is certainly a legend in his own right.

Albums Success

Drizzy hip-hopped onto the scene with three mixtapes before releasing his debut studio album Thank Me Later which was his first number-one album in the US. His subsequent four albums also peaked atop the Billboard 200.

Views was the first album by a male solo star (in over a decade) to be number-one for 13 nonconsecutive weeks, while Scorpion was certified Platinum on the day it was released and became the first album to be streamed over one billion times in its release week.

Singles Success

Rap god Drake has broken several records on the Billboard Hot 100 chart including having the most top 10 placements, the most charted songs ever (231), and the most Hot 100 debuts in one week (22). He also has the most number-one singles on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (19) and Hot Rap Songs (15) charts.

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The majority of Drake’s 139 singles (plus collaborations) have charted on the Billboard Hot 100 – all 25 tracks on his album Scorpion, for example, entered the chart.

One Dance is Drake’s most successful single of all time, peaking at number-one in 15 countries worldwide. It is also the third most-played song on Spotify (2 billion+), helping him become the highest-certified digital singles artist in the US by the RIAA.

Other Ventures

Other than music, Drizzy has succeeded as an entrepreneur having established his own OVO Sound record label and a bourbon whiskey, Virginia Black. He has accumulated four Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards and a record 27 Billboard Music Awards.

4. Eminem

Sales: 220 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Lose Yourself, Crack a Bottle, Not Afraid, Love the Way You Lie, The Monster
Best-Selling Album:
The Marshall Mathers LP

Even if you live under a rock, you’ll probably be aware of Eminem, critically acclaimed as one of the greatest rappers of all time. While he stands at fourth place on this list, Eminem is actually the best-selling hip-hop artist of all-time. The legendary rapper was also dubbed the best-selling music artist in the US of the 2000s. 

Albums Success

As the best-selling music artist in the US of the 2000s, Eminem sold over 32.2 million albums during the decade. He has 10 number-one albums on the Billboard 200, which all consecutively debuted at the top of the charts, making him the only artist to ever do so.

Eminem’s first album to peak atop of the charts, The Marshall Mathers LP broke the record as the fastest-selling hip-hop album of all-time and fastest-selling solo album in the US. It has been certified Diamond alongside The Eminem Show, which was an international success in 2002, selling over 19 million copies worldwide. His seventh album Recovery was also the best-selling album worldwide in 2010.

Singles Success

Eminem has had five number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 including Lose Yourself and Love the Way You Lie. The former, made Eminem the first ever hip-hop artist to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and it also remained on the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for 12 weeks.

Lose Yourself has been certified Diamond alongside Love the Way You Lie and Not Afraid. Not Afraid, in particular, made Eminem the first artist with two digital Diamond awards by RIAA. When The Monster became Eminem’s fifth No. 1 single, he joined rappers Ludacris and P. Diddy for rappers with the most No. 1 singles in the US.

Slim Shady was also named the most-streamed artist of all time on Spotify in 2014.

Other Ventures

Marshall Mathers is also an actor, having starred in movies 8 Mile, Funny People and The Interview. He has established Shady Records, his own channel, Shade 45; and Billboard even named him the “Artist of the Decade (2000–2009). Overall, Eminem currently holds 15 Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards and 17 Billboard Music Awards. 

3. Elton John

Sales: 300 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Crocodile Rock, Bennie and the Jets, Whatever Gets You thru the Night, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Philadelphia Freedom, Island Girl, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, That’s What Friends Are For, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, Something About the Way You Look Tonight/Candle in the Wind 1997
Best-Selling Album:
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

British singer, songwriter and pianist Elton John is the third highest-selling male artist in the world, having sold over 300 million records worldwide and having the best-selling single in Billboard history. He has established a famous and fruitful music career ever since his rise to stardom in the 1960s.

Albums Success

Not only has this musical legend sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, he also has had seven consecutive number-one albums in the US – the first artist to ever do so.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Elton John’s Greatest Hits are among the best-selling albums worldwide. The former is his biggest-selling album, which sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, was certified Diamond by the RIAA, and was number-one for two months.

John’s famed soundtrack for The Lion King remained at the top of the Billboard 200 for nine weeks and has been certified Diamond for selling 15 million copies.

Singles Success

Elton John has sold over 100 million singles worldwide and boasts a whopping 57 top 40 hits in the US Billboard Hot 100, including 10 number-one tracks.

He has the best-selling single in Billboard history and the best-selling chart single of all time – Candle in the Wind 1997, which was a tribute song for Princess Diana, selling over 33 million copies worldwide.

John’s additional highest-charting single was That’s What Friends Are For, while his Lion King soundtrack Can You Feel the Love Tonight won both the Academy Award for Best Original Song (1995) and the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance (1995).

Other Ventures

John has five Grammy Awards, two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes and several more gongs in his roster. He has famously composed music for The Lion King, Aida and Billy Elliot the Musical, and has even been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for “services to music and charitable services”.

Also known as The Rocket Man, Elton has been named the most successful male solo artist on the Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists, and third overall, behind the Beatles and Madonna.

2. Michael Jackson

Sales: 350 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Ben, Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, Rock with You, Billie Jean, Beat It, Say Say Say, I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, Man in the Mirror, Dirty Diana, Black or White, You Are Not Alone
Best-Selling Album:
Thriller

There’s no surprise that The King of Pop comes second as the world’s most successful male artist. He is one of the most significant and well-recognized pop culture figures ever, after all. Michael Jackson hasn’t just sold 350 million records worldwide, but he has also influenced various fields such as dance, fashion and philanthropy, and is officially the most awarded music artist in history.

Albums Success

The King of Pop reigns when it comes to album sales. His sixth album, Thriller is officially the world’s best-selling album of all time, selling around 70 million copies.

Topping several international charts, Thriller was also the first album to have seven Hot 100 top 10 singles, including Billie Jean and Beat It. Further accomplishments include Bad, MJ’s seventh studio album, which became the first album to top the charts in 25 countries. 

His compilation album, Number Ones was released following his death and also became one of the best-selling albums worldwide.

Singles Success

Michael Jackson is the only artist to have 13 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. His first No.1 was Ben in 1972, but it was his later tracks that became mega-successes, not only in the US, but internationally, too.

Billie Jean was number-one in 13 countries, while Thriller only peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100, but sold seven million copies in the US alone, making it MJ’s best-selling single ever.

I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, Man in the Mirror, and Dirty Diana all reached No.1 in the US, breaking a record for the most number-one singles from one album (Bad). MJ’s famous ballad, You Are Not Alone holds the Guinness World Record for the first ever song to debut at number-one on the Hot 100.

Other Ventures

As the most awarded artist in history, Jackson has 5 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and 39 Guinness World Records, including the “Most Successful Entertainer of All Time”.

He has also been listed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Dance Hall of Fame – being the the only recording artist to do so.

1. Elvis Presley

Sales: 500 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Heartbreak Hotel, I Want You, I Need You, I Love You, Don’t Be Cruel, Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, Too Much, All Shook Up, Teddy Bear, Jailhouse Rock, Don’t, Hard Headed Woman, A Big Hunk o’ Love, Stuck on You, It’s Now or Never, Are You Lonesome Tonight, Surrender, Good Luck Charm, Suspicious Minds
Best-Selling Album:
 Elvis’ Christmas Album

The man, the myth, the legend, Elvis Presley is officially the number-one best-selling male artist of all time. With decades of releasing classic singles, iconic albums, and starring in multiple films, The King of Rock and Roll is the most significant icons and musical forces of the 20th century, and has paved the way for several musicians throughout modern history.

Albums Success

This celebrated artist has sold more than 139 million LP record albums in the US. He has the most RIAA certified Gold and Platinum albums, as well as the most albums charted on the Billboard 200. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Presley sells more than one million albums per year, even decades after his death.

Elvis’ self-titled debut album, Elvis Presley was the first ever rock and roll album to peak atop of the Billboard chart, a position it held for 10 weeks. Elvis’ Christmas Album is also the best-selling Christmas album ever in America, with eventual sales of over 20 million worldwide.

Singles Success

Elvis Presley has a whopping 149 songs that have appeared on Billboard Hot 100 Pop Chart. 114 reached the top 40, and 18 songs went to number-one, totaling 80 weeks at the top of the charts.

The King of Rock and Roll boasts 54 singles certified by the RIAA with 50 million in sales. Heartbreak Hotel was his first number-one in the US, followed by further successful singles in the 1950s like Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock and Hard Headed Woman.

Following his military service in the late 50s, Elvis returned to music in the 60s with the No.1 track Stuck on You, and its follow-up single, It’s Now or Never, which was another worldwide hit, peaking no lower than No. 2 in 13 countries. 

Before his untimely death in the 70s, the music legend continued reigning the charts with No. 1 hits, Are You Lonesome Tonight, Surrender, and more successful soundtrack singles such as Can’t Help Falling in Love and Kissin’ Cousins

Other Ventures

Other than being the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis also made his mark in Hollywood by starring in 31 feature films as an actor and two theatrically released concert documentary films. He has three Grammy Awards, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame.

With the likes of popular newbies like Harry Styles and Shawn Mendes capturing the hearts of many and selling millions of records across the globe, it’s only expected that they soon might take out some of the artists on this list.

Will Elvis always be the King of Rock and Roll and the king of the best-selling male artists? Is Eminem always going to be the leading male rapper worldwide?

Let us know who you think deserves their spot on this list by leaving a comment in the section below…

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Angela Stephanou

Angela Stephanou

As an avid blogger and someone who eats, sleeps and breathes entertainment, I decided to take matters into my own hands and establish a pop culture website. Ever since I can remember, I've been interested in the world of celebrities, have listened to the latest music, and watched the newest movies. My guilty pleasure is watching cheesy reality shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, but I’m also a sucker for all things Marvel and DC - two entirely different worlds, I know.

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