A Visualization Of The Best-Selling Music Artists from 1969 to 2019

We sometimes get a mistaken idea of just how hot a music artist really is. It’s easy to think that an artist with a huge hit has sustained success over time, but that actually happens in very few cases involving superstars. That said, the best-selling music artists that continue to endure for years and even decades aren’t surprising, although the length of time that they rule is.

Top selling music artists 1969 to 2019

Data Is Beautiful has a series of videos that show “Best of’s” over a period of time. The latest one features best-selling music artists over a 50 year period from 1969 to 2019. The video is almost 10 minutes long but it’s mesmerizing, and if you have any interest in music at all you’ll find yourself forgetting all about the time as it moves along.

A few things jumped out to me. First is the ongoing popularity of Elvis. You think of him as mainly a 50s artist, but he remained a top-selling artist through the 1970s. The Beatles longevity through the decades should be a surprise to no one however.

Another one is Elton John, who stayed on the charts for more than 25 years, as did Madonna. The late 70s where dominated by The Eagles, while the early 80s through the mid-90s Michael Jackson ruled the charts. The Backstreet Boys topped it during the late 90s (a total surprise), while Eminem was king during the early to mid-2000s. Drake has commanded the top spot for most of the 2010’s.

The source of the data was from the IFPI, RIAA and record labels, so you there’s a lot of room to fudge things, but I don’t believe enough to change an appearance on this chart. Also, the transition from physical sales to digital download sales to streams may not be a true apples-to-apples comparison, but that’s a fight that has been going on for about 15 years as well.

Even so, this is a fascinating video that you’re gong to love and find surprising as you watch the best-selling music artists change over time.

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