How many albums have The Beatles sold?


Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Until the late 1960s singles by The Beatles singles far outsold their LPs. This was the standard pattern of record sales at that time. LPs were considered a luxury item and generally beyond the reach of most teenagers. 

That said, The Beatles did have an unusual multi-generational appeal. And the kids who bought their singles would later come back to buy not just the studio albums but various compilations.

Statistic: Top-selling artists worldwide as of August 2022, based on certified sales (in million units) | Statista
From Statista

Studio Albums

  • The Beatles officially released 13 studio albums between 1962 and their break up.
  • Over time the biggest selling has been Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). This has sold an estimated 32 million
  • In the 1990s they released three anthology albums.


  • The best selling was Number 1s, a compilation of singles. This was only released in 2000, thirty years after the band last recorded together. 
  • Two double albums summarising their career: The Beatles/1962-1966 and The Beatles/1967-1970 sold very strongly throughout the 1970s. These became known as the 'red and the blue albums
  • They had a total of 21 Number 1 albums in the US. 
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 

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.

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