The 60th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony will be broadcast live from Madison Square Garden in New York City on Sunday, January 28. The awards show is intended showcase and honor the talents and contributions of the best musicians working in the recording industry today.
While many of the 2018 Grammy nominees top the Billboard charts and are some of the best-selling musicians today, few are among the best-selling artists of all time.
To determine the best-selling Grammy Award winners of all time, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed album and digital singles sales data from the Recording Industry Association of America. Artists were ranked according to their combined album and digital single sales and were only considered if they have won at least one Grammy Award.
The Grammys can introduce artists to new audiences, and often lead to a boost in sales and popularity. Yet while album sales of Grammy winners can more than double in the week following the show and often increase fourfold for performers, the most decorated musicians are not necessarily the best-selling.
Elvis Presley, for example, sold millions of records before the Grammy Awards began. Elvis scored his first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Heartbreak Hotel” in 1956 — three years before the first Grammy Awards ceremony was held in 1959. Despite being the second best selling artist of all time, Elvis has won just three Grammy Awards.
Many of the artists with the most Grammy Awards have never even had a Gold-certified album. Composers Georg Solti, Pierre Boulez, and Vladimir Horowitz — who are the first, fourth, and fifth top Grammy-winning artists of all time respectively and have a combined 82 awards — are largely recognized for their contributions to classical music and opera and rarely cross over into mainstream popularity.
Similarly, some of the top selling artists have never won a Grammy. Despite her 13 Grammy nominations, Katy Perry — who with 6.0 million album and 91.5 million digital single sales is the 10th best selling artist of all time — has yet to win a Grammy Award.
Several top rock acts of the 1980s, such as Journey, Guns N’ Roses, and Foreigner have never won a Grammy Award despite each selling over 45 million albums and singles. Other top selling musicians without a Grammy include Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, and Flo Rida.
Most of the best-selling Grammy winners are not contemporary acts. Physical and digital music sales around the world fell approximately 45% over the last 17 years, from $23.8 billion in 1999 to $13.2 billion in 2016. As music-sharing technology changes and consumer demand for traditional albums and singles fall, newer musicians may find it harder to achieve the album sales of their predecessors. Just nine of the 50 best selling Grammy winners of all time are among the current class of Grammy nominees.
To determine the best selling Grammy Award winners, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed album and digital singles sales data from the Recording Industry Association of America. Artists were ranked according to their combined album and digital single sales and were only considered if they have won at least one Grammy Award. Grammy Award wins and nominations for every artist came from the Recording Academy. Data on best selling albums or singles also came from the RIAA. Greatest hits and other compilation albums were not considered for an artist’s best selling album.