The future of music

30 Best-Selling Female Artists of All Time

May 22, 2023
best-selling female artist of all time

Throughout history, numerous artists have captivated audiences with their exceptional music, leaving an indelible mark on the industry.

Among these artists are some of the most influential and successful female musicians of all time, who have sold millions of records and inspired countless people around the world.

These female artists have dominated the music scene, breaking barriers and paving the way for future generations.

With their unique talents, distinctive voices, and memorable hits, they have become cultural icons and symbols of female empowerment.

In this article, we will explore the 30 best-selling female artists of all time, celebrating their incredible achievements and contributions to the world of music.

Whether you’re a fan of their music or not, their impact on the industry is undeniable and worthy of recognition.

1. Madonna

Estimated Sales: 335 Million

Madonna has sold over 335 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling musicians of all time.

Her success is attributed to her ability to constantly reinvent herself, her iconic image, and her catchy and often controversial music.

Madonna’s career began in the early 1980s, and she quickly became known for her provocative image and unique sound.

She released her first album, Madonna, in 1983, which included the hit songs “Lucky Star” and “Borderline.”

Her second album, Like a Virgin, released in 1984, cemented her status as a pop icon with hits like the title track and “Material Girl.”

In addition to her music career, Madonna has also acted in several films and been involved in various humanitarian efforts.

She has won many awards for her music and charity work, including seven Grammy Awards and the Billboard Icon Award.

2. Rihanna

Estimated Sales: 250 Million

With over 250 million records sold worldwide, Rihanna has become one of the most successful and influential artists of the 21st century.

Rihanna has released eight studio albums, including Music of the Sun (2005), Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), Rated R (2009), Loud (2010), Talk That Talk (2011), Unapologetic (2012), Anti (2016), and R9 (forthcoming).

During her career, she has won many awards, including nine Grammys, thirteen American Music Awards, twelve Billboard Music Awards, and six Guinness World Records.

She is also the youngest and fastest solo artist to earn 14 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

3. Mariah Carey

Estimated Sales: 220 Million

Carey has put out 15 studio albums, starting with her self-titled debut in 1990. 

She then released highly successful albums like Emotions (1991), Music Box (1993), Daydream (1995), and Butterfly (1997).

She has also released numerous compilations, remix albums, and live albums, which have contributed to her overall sales.

Throughout her career, Carey has achieved 19 Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits, the most by any solo artist in the chart’s history.

She has also won many awards, such as five Grammys, 19 World Music Awards, and ten American Music Awards.

Mariah Carey’s influence on the music industry and pop culture cannot be denied, and she has rightfully earned her place as one of the best-selling female artists of all time

4. Céline Dion

Estimated Sales: 200 Million

Céline Dion has sold more than 200 million records worldwide and has won many awards, including five Grammy Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards, and 20 Juno Awards, which is the most of any Canadian artist.

Dion has had many hit songs throughout her career, including “My Heart Will Go On,” which was featured in the movie Titanic and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

She has also had numerous other top 10 hits, such as “The Power of Love,” “Because You Loved Me,” and “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.”

Her powerful vocals and emotional performances have earned her a dedicated fan base and a place in music history as one of the greatest female singers of all time.

5. Whitney Houston

Estimated Sales: 200 Million

Houston released seven studio albums in her lifetime. 

Her 1985 self-titled album was the best-selling debut album by a female artist at the time.

Her subsequent albums, including Whitney (1987), I’m Your Baby Tonight (1990), and The Bodyguard soundtrack (1992), was also highly successful and helped cement her place as one of the most iconic voices of her generation.

Houston had 11 #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart throughout her career.

She also won a total of six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for the soundtrack to The Bodyguard.

She also won a lot of other awards, like two Emmys, 22 American Music Awards, and a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after she died in 2020.

6. Beyonce

Estimated Sales: 200 Million

Beyoncé has had a successful music career for more than 20 years.

She has won many awards for her music, including 28 Grammy Awards, which makes her the most-awarded female artist in Grammy history.

Beyoncé rose to fame as a member of the girl group Destiny’s Child in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Before Beyoncé went solo, the group put out four studio albums that sold more than 60 million copies around the world.

Her debut solo album, Dangerously in Love, was released in 2003 and was a massive commercial success, selling over 11 million copies worldwide.

She has since put out six more solo albums, all of which were huge hits and sold millions of copies around the world.

Beyoncé is also known for her dynamic live performances, which have earned her a reputation as one of the greatest performers of all time.

Beyoncé’s incredible success as a musician, performer, and actress has made her one of the best-selling female artists of all time. 

She continues to be a major force in the entertainment industry.

7. Taylor Swift

Estimated Sales: 200 Million

Taylor Swift rose to prominence as a country music singer in the mid-2000s and has since transitioned to a more pop-oriented sound.

Swift has put out nine studio albums, and all of them have been big hits, selling millions of copies around the world.

She has also won numerous awards for her music, including 11 Grammy Awards, and has been recognized as one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

Swift’s success can be attributed to the fact that her songs are easy to relate to and often deal with love, heartbreak, and growing up.

Her ability to connect with her fans through her music and her engaging live performances has earned her a dedicated fan base around the world.

8. Britney Spears

Estimated Sales: 150 Million

Britney Spears is one of the best-selling female artists of all time, having sold over 150 million records worldwide.

She rose to fame in the late 1990s with her debut single, “…Baby One More Time,” which became a global hit and set the stage for her successful music career.

Spears has put out nine studio albums, and all of them have been big hits.

She has also won numerous awards for her music, including a Grammy Award, and has been recognized as one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

Spears’ music has been characterized by its catchy pop hooks and her ability to blend elements of different genres, such as dance, R&B, and rock, into her songs.

Her music videos have also been a big part of her success. 

They often have complicated choreography and beautiful images.

9. Barbara Streisand

Estimated Sales: 150 Million

Streisand first gained fame as a Broadway performer in the 1960s, starring in hit shows such as “Funny Girl” and “Hello, Dolly!”

She then transitioned to film, starring in movies such as “The Way We Were,” “Yentl,” and “A Star is Born,” for which she won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

In addition to her success on stage and screen, Streisand has released over 30 studio albums throughout her career.

Many of her albums have been certified multi-platinum and have been at the top of the charts in many countries.

Some of her most successful albums include The Barbra Streisand Album, People, Guilty, and Love is the Answer.

She has won many awards and honors for her work as a singer, songwriter, actress, and director, including two Academy Awards, ten Grammy Awards, five Emmy Awards, a Tony Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

10. Katy Perry

Estimated Sales: 143 Million

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Perry has sold over 100 million certified units in the United States alone, making her one of the highest-certified artists in history.

Internationally, Perry has sold over 143 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

She has had numerous chart-topping singles and albums, including “I Kissed a Girl,” “California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream,” “Roar,” and “Dark Horse,” among others.

Perry has won multiple awards throughout her career, including five American Music Awards, five Billboard Music Awards, and a Brit Award.

She has also been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards and performed at the Super Bowl halftime show.

11. Shirley Bassey

Estimated Sales: 140 Million

Bassey has sold over 140 million records worldwide and is one of the most successful British female artists in history.

Bassey is best known for her powerful voice and iconic performances of James Bond theme songs, including “Goldfinger,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” and “Moonraker.”

She has also had numerous hits throughout her career, including “Big Spender,” “Never, Never, Never,” and “This Is My Life.”

Bassey has received numerous accolades throughout her career, including being named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2000 for her services to music.

She has also won three Grammy Awards, and in 2003, she was honored with a special award at the Brit Awards for her contribution to music.

12. P!NK

Estimated Sales: 135 Million

P!nk, also known as Pink, has sold over 135 million records worldwide and has had numerous chart-topping singles and albums.

P!nk’s career began in the early 2000s, and she quickly became known for her unique voice, catchy pop-rock songs, and boundary-pushing music videos.

Some of her most popular songs include “Just Like a Pill,” “Get the Party Started,” “So What,” and “Raise Your Glass.”

In addition to her commercial success, P!nk has won multiple awards, including three Grammy Awards, seven MTV Video Music Awards, and two Billboard Music Awards.

She has also been named Billboard’s Woman of the Year twice and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2019.

Her distinctive sound, strong vocals, and long-lasting popularity have made her one of the best-selling female artists of all time.

13. Lady Gaga

Estimated Sales: 124 Million

Lady Gaga’s career began in the late 2000s, and she quickly became known for her innovative and boundary-pushing music as well as her theatrical and often provocative live performances.

Some of her most popular songs include “Poker Face,” “Bad Romance,” “Born This Way,” and “Shallow.”

Lady Gaga has won multiple awards, including 12 Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, and a Golden Globe Award.

She has also been named to Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world and was the first person to win an Oscar, Grammy, BAFTA, and Golden Globe in a single year for her work on the movie “A Star Is Born.”

14. Adele

Estimated Sales: 120 Million

Adele’s career began in the late 2000s, and she quickly became known for her soulful voice, emotional ballads, and introspective lyrics.

Some of her most popular songs include “Someone Like You,” “Hello,” “Rolling in the Deep,” and “Set Fire to the Rain.”

Adele has won multiple awards, including 15 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Brit Award.

Despite taking a break from music in recent years to focus on her personal life, Adele remains one of the most successful and beloved artists of her generation.

Her powerful voice, emotional songwriting, and cultural impact have solidified her status as one of the best-selling female artists of all time.

15. Christina Aguilera

Estimated Sales: 100 Million

Christina Aguilera has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the most successful artists in music history.

Aguilera’s debut album, Christina Aguilera, was released in 1999 and became a massive commercial success.

The album featured hit singles such as “Genie in a Bottle,” “What a Girl Wants,” and “Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You),” all of which topped the charts around the world.

After her first album, she had a lot of success with Stripped in 2002, Back to Basics in 2006, and Bionic in 2010.

In addition to her successful music career, Aguilera has also dabbled in acting and appeared in several films and television shows.

16. Cher

Estimated Sales: 100 Million

Throughout her career, Cher has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the highest-selling female music artists of all time.

Cher first rose to fame in the 1960s as part of the duo Sonny & Cher and later established a successful solo career.

She has released several hit songs, including “Believe,” “If I Could Turn Back Time,” “Strong Enough,” and “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves.”

She has also won a lot of awards, including an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, and three Golden Globe Awards.

17. Janet Jackson

Estimated Sales: 100 Million

Janet Jackson has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the most successful female artists in music history.

Her impact on popular culture and music cannot be overstated.

Jackson’s success began in the 1980s when she released her breakthrough album Control in 1986.

The album spawned several hit singles, including “What Have You Done for Me Lately,” “Nasty,” and “When I Think of You.”

Control went on to sell over 14 million copies worldwide and established Jackson as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.

Jackson’s success continued in the 1990s, with the release of her album Janet in 1993.

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart.

Janet sold over 20 million copies worldwide and cemented Jackson’s status as one of the biggest female artists of all time.

Throughout her career, she has won many awards, such as multiple Grammy Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, and American Music Awards.

18. Nicki Minaj

Estimated Sales: 100 Million

Nicki Minaj has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the most successful female rappers of all time.

She has also won numerous awards, including four American Music Awards, five Billboard Music Awards, and a BET Award.

She first gained recognition for her mixtapes before releasing her debut album, Pink Friday, in 2010.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album as triple platinum, and it debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200.

Her subsequent albums, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012), The Pinkprint (2014), and Queen (2018), also achieved commercial success.

19. Olivia Newton-John

Estimated Sales: 100 Million

Olivia Newton-John has won many awards and sold more than 100 million records all over the world. 

She has won four Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, and many other honors.

Olivia Newton-John first gained international fame in the 1970s with her hits “If Not for You,” “I Honestly Love You,” and “Have You Never Been Mellow.”

She continued to dominate the charts throughout the 1980s with hits like “Physical,” “Heart Attack,” and “Twist of Fate.”

She has also been involved in numerous charitable organizations and causes, including the fight against breast cancer.

20. Dolly Parton

Estimated Sales: 100 Million

Parton first rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970s with a series of country hits, including “Coat of Many Colors” and “Jolene.”

She continued to produce hit records throughout the 1970s and 1980s, with songs like “9 to 5” and “Islands in the Stream,” a duet with Kenny Rogers.

She has released over 60 albums throughout her career.

Parton is known for her unique voice, her ability to write songs, and her ability to switch between country, pop, and bluegrass music.

She has had numerous chart-topping hits, including “9 to 5” and “I Will Always Love You,” which was later covered by Whitney Houston and became a worldwide hit.

Dolly Parton’s talent and charisma have made her one of the best-selling female artists of all time.

21. Linda Ronstadt

Estimated Sales: 100 Million

Linda Ronstadt has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the most successful and influential singers of the 20th century.

From the 1960s until the early 2010s, she had a long career during which she put out a lot of albums and hit singles.

Ronstadt’s music covered a wide range of genres, including rock, folk, country, and Latin music.

Some of her most popular songs include “You’re No Good,” “Blue Bayou,” “When Will I Be Loved,” “It’s So Easy,” and “Don’t Know Much,” among others.

She won multiple Grammy Awards throughout her career and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

She paved the way for other female artists and demonstrated that a woman could be successful across multiple genres of music.

Her powerful voice, versatility, and unwavering dedication to her craft have earned her a place among the greatest musicians of all time.

22. Diana Ross

Estimated Sales: 100 Million

As the lead singer of the Motown group The Supremes in the 1960s, Ross helped to define the sound of Motown and became one of the most successful female vocalists of the era.

The Supremes had 12 number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during their time together, making them one of the most successful groups of all time.

After leaving The Supremes in 1970, Ross embarked on a successful solo career, releasing hit songs such as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Touch Me in the Morning,” and “Upside Down.”

Overall, Diana Ross has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling female artists of all time.

She has won many awards, including several Grammys, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

23. Donna Summer

Estimated Sales: 100 Million

Summer rose to fame in the 1970s with hits like “Love to Love You Baby,” “I Feel Love,” and “Last Dance.”

Her unique blend of disco, pop, and R&B helped define the sound of the era and inspired countless musicians in the decades that followed.

Her music had dance beats that were hard to resist, strong vocals, and a sensual, glamorous look.

She was known as the “Queen of Disco” and helped popularize the genre in the 1970s.

In addition to her success on the charts, Summer won five Grammy Awards throughout her career, including Best Dance Recording for “Carry On” and Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, for “Last Dance.”

She was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

24. Tina Turner

Estimated Sales: 100 Million

Tina Turner is widely regarded as one of the best-selling female artists of all time, with a career spanning over five decades.

She has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the most successful female artists in history.

Turner began her career in the 1950s as a member of the musical duo Ike & Tina Turner.

The duo achieved several hits, including “A Fool in Love” and “River Deep – Mountain High,” which are considered classics of the rock and roll era.

After leaving Ike & Turner and launching a solo career in the 1980s, Tina Turner achieved even greater success with a string of hits including “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” “Private Dancer,” and “Simply the Best.”

Her album Private Dancer alone has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.

25. Shania Twain

Estimated Sales: 100 Million

Twain’s career began in the 1990s with her self-titled debut album, which was a commercial success in Canada.

Her breakthrough album, The Woman in Me, was released in 1995 and became a worldwide phenomenon, selling over 20 million copies worldwide.

This was followed by her 1997 album Come On Over, which is one of the best-selling albums of all time with over 40 million copies sold worldwide.

Twain’s unique blend of country and pop music, as well as her captivating stage presence and powerful voice, have made her a beloved figure in the music industry.

During her career, she has won a lot of awards, including five Grammys and 27 BMI Songwriter Awards.

26. Dionne Warwick

Estimated Sales: 100 Million

Dionne Warwick is a legendary singer who has had a long and successful career, spanning over six decades.

Warwick rose to fame in the 1960s with a string of hits written by the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

Her hits during this era included “Walk On By,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”

These songs helped establish Warwick as one of the premier vocalists of the era.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Warwick continued to have hits, including “Then Came You,” a duet with The Spinners, and “Heartbreaker,” written by the Bee Gees.

She also became known for her philanthropic work, including her involvement with the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

27. Alicia Keys

Estimated Sales: 90 Million

Alicia Keys is a highly successful and acclaimed American singer-songwriter, musician, and record producer.

She has sold over 90 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling female artists of all time.

Keys’ debut album, Songs in a Minor, was released in 2001 and became an instant commercial and critical success.

It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum five times by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The album’s lead single, “Fallin’,” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and won Keys multiple awards, including Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 2002 Grammy Awards.

Since then, Keys has released several other successful albums, including The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003), As I Am (2007), The Element of Freedom (2009), Girl on Fire (2012), and Here (2016).

She has won numerous awards for her music, including 15 Grammy Awards, 17 Billboard Music Awards, and three American Music Awards.

28. Avril Lavigne

Estimated Sales: 90 Million

Avril Lavigne is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and actress who has achieved significant commercial success throughout her career.

Let Go, Avril Lavigne’s first album came out in 2002 and was a huge success, selling over 20 million copies around the world.

The album’s lead single, “Complicated,” topped the charts in several countries and was certified platinum in the United States.

Lavigne’s second album, Under My Skin, was also a commercial success, selling over 14 million copies worldwide.

29. Reba McEntire

Estimated Sales: 90 Million

McEntire has released 33 studio albums, with many of them achieving platinum or multi-platinum certification.

She has also had 35 number-one singles on the Billboard country charts, making her the female artist with the most number-one hits in the chart’s history.

Some of her most successful albums include Rumor Has It (1990), For My Broken Heart (1991), and It’s Your Call (1993).

Reba McEntire’s talent, hard work, and dedication to her craft have made her one of the most successful and beloved female artists in country music history.

30. Ariana Grande

Estimated Sales: 85 Million

Grande has released six studio albums, all of which have been commercial successes.

Her debut album, Yours Truly, released in 2013, debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Her subsequent albums, My Everything, Dangerous Woman, Sweetener, Thank U, Next, and Positions, have all also debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart.

Grande’s success can also be attributed to her hit singles, which have dominated the charts since her debut.

She has had multiple number-one singles on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Ariana Grande’s impressive record sales, chart-topping singles, and successful tours have established her as one of the best-selling female artists of all time.

Best-Selling Female Artist of All Time – Final Thoughts

The 30 best-selling female artists of all time have made a significant impact on the music industry, with their unique styles and powerful voices.

These women have broken barriers and defied stereotypes, paving the way for future generations of female artists to follow in their footsteps.

They have used their voices to not only entertain but also to address social and political issues and inspire change.

Their resilience, talent, and hard work have earned them a place in music history and the hearts of fans worldwide.

You may also like: Best Female R&B Singers of All Time

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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