There have been countless hit-makers in music history, but which artists are quite literally the best-selling artists in the United States of all time? Thanks to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), we can determine just that.
One of the most notable things the RIAA does is award albums and other title certifications based on sales. The RIAA has three certification levels:
-Gold: Awarded to titles that have sold a minimum of 500,000 units.
-Platinum: Awarded to titles that have sold a minimum of 1 million units.
-Diamond: Awarded to titles that have sold a minimum of 10 million units.
Title tallies are measured in “units.” These units are determined in three ways:
-The sale of a physical or digital album counts as 1 unit.
-The individual sale of 10 digital tracks from an album counts as 1 unit.
-1,500 on-demand audio/video streams from an album count as 1 unit.
According to the RIAA’s certification criteria, a title becomes eligible for certification 30 days after its release date for physical titles and the same day of release for digital titles. In order for a title to be certified, the RIAA states, “Applicants must submit specific sales and streaming figures at each level threshold, along with other criteria, to qualify for certification.”
In other words: A lot of effort and statistical analysis goes into the RIAA’s certification process. (If you care to read about every single little detail about the certification process, you can do so here.)
With all of this in mind, keep scrolling to find out who are the ten best-selling artists in the United States of all time. With every artist, you’ll learn which of their titles have moved the most units. (Spoiler: Brace yourself for some mind-blowing numbers! Seriously, they’re going to make your head spin.)