How many records have The Beatles sold?

Before they broke-up, The Beatles sold far more singles that LPs. The album, as it became known, was a luxury item - well beyond the financial  reach of the core teenage market. Singles generally outsold albums until the early seventies.
  • The Beatles released a total of 63 singles worldwide
  • By 2014, the official figure for US single sales was an astonishing 1.6 billion
  • Additional worldwide singles sales: 600 million

Studio Albums

  • The Beatles officially released 13 albums studio, plus three anthologies
  • They had a total of 21 Number 1 albums in the US. 
  • Total US album sales are estimated at around 177 million
  • Album sales outside of the US are in excess of 600 million
  • The Beatles (The White Album) is the biggest selling studio album. It has sold over 24 million copies.
Later acts, like Fleetwood Mac, Elton John and Michael Jackson, all  benefited from the increasing availability of affordable stereo systems. Older fans were now buying Beatles albums in large numbers but these sales were dwarfed by those of Thriller, for example.


Where the Beatles outshone all their competitors was in longevity Compilations, such as the 'red' and the 'blue' anthologies sold particularly well throughout the 70s. These were initially marketed at those who had once purchased the singles but they also appealed to a younger market.

In fact, the biggest selling Beatles album after Sergeant Pepper is Number 1s, a compilation of singles. This was only released in 2000, thirty years after the band last recorded together. 

New formats

Sales were also helped by the mass switch from vinyl to CD in the 1980s. Ironically, the CD format has seen a rapid decline in this century, while vinyl has undergone a mini revival. 

A new trend has been for special reissues and previously unreleased tracks. The Anthology series was a mass market example of this. 

More recently sales have become increasingly difficult to assess, as downloads of individual tracks are added to traditional singles & albums. But demand for the remastered albums and reissued films confirms that the Beatles songbook remains the most lucrative one in the history of popular music.

Free Beatles Teaching Materials

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