No matter how they get into music or what genre they fall into, almost every recording artist shares the same dream privately: to become an icon in the industry and change the face of music in the process. And while there are hundreds of talented and successful artists, very few will do all of these. Most will have a hit or two, and many may even hit a string of successful albums, but few will change the course of pop music or pave a new path for those who follow.
But of course there have been a handful of modern musicians who have done that. Stacker has summarized the 50 most successful musicians of all time. These people were pioneers and icons. They have sold millions of albums and singles, performed countless live shows, and even invented new genres.
To compile this list, Stacker examined data from both the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and the Grammy Awards. The RIAA awards certifications based on the number of albums and singles sold by an artist. Gold albums were sold 500,000 times; Platinum albums sold 1,000,000 copies; Multi-platinum has sold 2,000,000 (with increments of 1,000,000 thereafter) and diamond albums have sold 10,000,000 copies. Stacker then built an index to rate each artist that took into account the total number of RIAA certified units (70%), Grammy wins (20%), and Grammy nominations (10%). To be considered for this story, artists must have sold 10 million RIAA certified units.
Some artists on the list are predictable, like Michael Jackson and The Beatles, while others might be more surprising, like Eminem and Kenny G. Read on to find out if your favorite musicians made the cut.
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