How well do you know your music history? Boost your music industry IQ with our roundup of some of the most impressive artists in the business, including the acts who have sold the most albums, won the most Grammy Awards, and hold the most number-one hits.
Best-Selling Artist of All Time: The Beatles
The Beatles are one of the most celebrated and influential musical acts in history, so it comes as no surprise that they have sold the most music of all time. In the 60 years since the band started, they have sold more than 183 million units worldwide, including chart-topping albums like bThe Beatles (also known as “The White Album”) and Abbey Road.
Longest Running Billboard Number One Single: Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus
“Old Town Road,” the longest-running Billboard number one single, was released in April 2019 and took the world by storm. It remained at the top of the chart for 19 consecutive weeks, which puts it weeks ahead of the other songs on the list.
Best-Selling Album of All Time: Michael Jackson
The King of Pop is the record holder for the best-selling album of all time. His 1982 album Thriller has sold more than 66 million units around the globe. It also held the record for the top-selling album in the United States until 2018, when it was topped by The Eagles’ Greatest Hits 1971-1975.
Most Viewed YouTube Video of All Time: Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee
Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, and Justin Bieber all have music videos that rank within the top 10 most viewed on YouTube, but the number one spot goes to an artist that you might not expect: Luis Fonsi. His 2017 smash hit “Despacito” featuring Daddy Yankee has amassed 6.6 billion views on YouTube, putting it more than 2 billion views ahead of Sheeran’s “Shape of You” video.
Most Grammy Awards of All Time: Georg Solti
Winning a Grammy Award is a career highlight for any musician. Hungarian-British composer Sir Georg Solti achieved that goal 31 times, giving him the record for most Grammy Awards of all time. If you aren’t familiar with his work, Solti became famous for his work across Europe and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Most Billboard Number One Hits: The Beatles
You can’t discuss music history without mentioning The Beatles over and over again. Even long after they disbanded, the legendary group still holds many of the industry’s most impressive records, including the accomplishment of having the most Billboard number one hits (they have 20).
Most-Streamed Song on Spotify: Ed Sheeran
With nearly 2.5 billion streams on the platform, Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” is the big winner in this category. The song was released in 2017 and continues to dominate the streaming service charts.
The music landscape is extremely diverse and quickly changing, as evidenced by this range of artists and genres. While classic artists like The Beatles continue to have a stronghold on many charts, new artists like Lil Nas X are also holding their own.
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