THE BIGGEST SELLING SINGLES ACTS OF ALL TIME
By Alan Jones
We would like to thank Brian Quinn for sending us this interesting article........
The biggest selling singles act of all time in the UK is Cliff Richard, who has sold 21,328,000 singles since 1958 debut. Elvis Presley
follows close of 20,918,000 and the Beatles sit in third place 20,821,000 but both Presley and Richard enjoyed considerable sales prior to
September 1959, and the biggest selling singles act of the last 50 years is The Beatles, whose sales all fall within the period.

Richard has sold 20,183,000 singles since 1959, while Presley's tally of 15,824,000 puts him fourth in the table of the top acts in the last
50 years Madonna, who has sold 16,793,000 singles. The rest of the top 10 is as follows

05 Elton John = 14,099,000
06 Michael Jackson = 13,808,000
07 Queen = 11,493,000
08 ABBA = 10,812,000
09 Paul McCartney = 10,034,000
10 David Bowie = 10,012,000

The Beatles formidable total has hardly changed in the last 5 years, increasing during that period by 21,000, as physical stocks of their
singles run out, while they remain unavailable as downloads. In the same period Cliff Richard has sold 375,000 singles, and Elvis Presley
has sold a whopping 1,600,298, partly due a successful reissue campaign which saw many of his most popular titles re issued on CD and
10 inch and partly from sales of downloads of his extensive catalogue.

The problem with a retrospective look at the last 50 years is that it gives a skewed picture of the truth. As we all know Elvis had many big
hits prior to September 1959. The UK retrospective is similar to the one recently published by 'Billboard' Magazine which also suffered
from the same time frame problem. Whether the figures produced during the relevant 50 year time frame are accurate is anybody's
guess. I suspect those produced since the invention of 'Point of Sales' machines which scan the bar codes will be fairly accurate however.
The figures above come from the following retrospective:

MUSIC WEEK MARKS ITS 50th ANNIVERSARY in next week’s issue with a free celebratory supplement looking back on the last half
century of the music industry.
The special supplement will take a detailed, decade-by-decade look at the key developments and moments since Music Week
predecessor Record Retailer launched in the summer of 1959.

There are also exclusive interviews and profiles of many of the industry’s key figures and executives explaining landmark developments in
the history of the modern industry.

Among the names featured are Cliff Richard, who with The Shadows was number one with Living Doll when the first issue of Record
Retailer was published. Sir Cliff offers a unique artist’s insight into how the industry has grown and developed from the pioneering days of
the late Fifties to the digital-shaped industry today.

Within the supplement we will also take a look at the biggest selling singles and albums of the past 50 years, including the top - selling
singles and albums of each year and an exclusive countdown courtesy of the Official Charts Company of the 50 biggest-selling albums
since 1959. All of this will be accompanied by overviews of the singles and albums markets over the past 50 years by Music Week’s chart
expert Alan Jones.

Music Week editor Paul Williams says, “We have been busy over these past few months putting together this supplement to serve both as
a souvenir to mark the first 50 years of Music Week and as a fitting tribute to the music industry during this time”.

Source: Music Week, by Alan Jones
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