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Here We Go Again

January 14, 2015 | Other

With his ninth studio album, Man Against Machine, earning platinum certification, Garth Brooks once again tops the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) list as the best-selling solo album artist of all-time, moving past the King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley. Brooks' tally, certified units of 135 million sold, bests Presley's current figure of 134.5 million units — figures that only take into consideration sales in the U.S.

Brooks was previously noted as the best-selling solo artist in the U.S. by the RIAA in November 2007, based solely on his album sales, which, at the time, totaled 123 million to Presley's 118.5 million. Presley fans were quick to point out that Elvis' tally did not take into account the millions of singles he sold that were never officially certified (gold, platinum or otherwise) by the RIAA.

Brooks still has a long way to go before outselling the all-time champs, however. The Beatles have sold 178 million units and remain the most-certified act in RIAA history. The Fab Four have earned 26 multi-platinum certifications from the RIAA.

Since the first platinum certifications for albums were not issued until 1976, it's safe to assume today's figures would look quite different for the Beatles, Presley – and Brooks – if album sales prior to 1976 were tallied the same as they are currently. As it is, Presley only received his very first platinum album certification, for the album Moody Blue, in September 1977, one month after his death. The Beatles' first RIAA-certified million-seller was the reissue album, Rock 'n' Roll Music, in 1976.

Regardless of whether the latest numbers tell the full story, a closer look at current figures does reveal some surprising statistics. Six of Brooks' catalog albums, Sevens, No Fences, The Hits, Garth Brooks, Ropin' the Wind and the two-record set Double Live, have all registered sales in excess of 10 million units each, while only one of Presley's offerings, Elvis' Christmas Album, has been certified for sales of more than 10 million units. To date, Presley, has earned a total of 90 gold, 52 platinum and 25 multi-platinum certifications, while Brooks has managed a total of 21 gold and platinum and 15 multi-platinum album certifications. The Beatles have earned 48 gold, 42 platinum and 26 multi-platinum certifications.

George Strait is the next-best-selling country artist with 69 million in sales, placing him just ahead of the Rolling Stones, and one notch below AC/DC.

Source:Rolling Stone
Natha wrote on January 14, 2015
The number of youth / people tobuy records, cds etc. has increased a lot after the fifties. Also the amount of money people could spend has dramatically increased. So I wonder what the sales would be if the King would rise today!
Mr Cool wrote on January 14, 2015
Over here in UK most people never heard of him. His only number one was when Ronan Keating covered one of his songs. Whilst Elvis was worldwide global phenomenon ,Garth is no more than a popular regional artist...
Lex wrote on January 14, 2015
Ronan Who? :)
benny scott wrote on January 14, 2015
Couldn't care less ! Always El, and I mean : ALWAYS EL !
Natha wrote on January 14, 2015
Indeed Benny. There is only one King.
TheMemphisFan wrote on January 14, 2015
snowplow floater wrote: "An artist had to sell a million back in the day to get a gold disc." True, but all of Elvis' 500,000 sellers are now credited as "Gold"... and have been for several decades. -- The only exception might be "I've Got A Thing About You Baby". Ernst Jorgensen claimed in his sessions book, A Life In Music, that the single sold a half-million copies. --
Gorse wrote on January 14, 2015
My gentle advice to Elvis fans who are passionate about these numbers and defend and justify them at every level is forget them. No one actually knows how many he has sold in the USA or globally, and from what I have read of the latter it could 'POSSIBLY 'be anywhere between 500 million and 1.5 billion. Just enjoy the fact that he was a magnificent versatile singer who made some great records (250 plus for me), a charismatic concert entertainer, a music pioneer, and best of all in my eyes is that after 37+ years of his passing is still one of the most well known names in this fickle world.
TheMemphisFan wrote on January 15, 2015
I'm surprised that there weren't some Gold/Platinum Award upgrades at Graceland during Elvis' 80th birthday celebration. Maybe there'll be some in August this year.
Chop983 wrote on January 15, 2015
When you consider the fact that he is only well known in the US, that's quite an achievement, well done.
Brian Quinn wrote on January 15, 2015
This does not tell the whole story. Under R.I.A.A. rules no album sales under Gold Certification (500,000 units) count and neither do any sales within higher certifications. Elvis has at least 150 albums within this category whereas Brooks has less than 20. If all the in between sales were to count, which they should, then Elvis would easily be No.1. Further, the R.I.A.A. rules allow albums containing two or more records to be counted twice e.g. a 2CD album having sold a million units will be credited with 2 million units sold providing each album contains over 60 minutes playing time. Nearly all of Brooks albums have taken advantage of this rule but only a handful of Elvis'. Of course Elvis remains the No.1 artist for the sale of single records in the U.S.A. It would appear that SONY are no longer interested in updating Elvis' new and upgraded certifications with the R.I.A.A. especially as downloading/streaming has become the major criteria in deciding record sales. For their part, these upgrades do not help sell any more records for Elvis and I cannot see there being any new certifications in the near future. I hope I a, proved wrong.
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on January 15, 2015
Brian ,they have never cared about his music,nothing has changed,its about money end of story.
benny scott wrote on January 15, 2015
Brian seems to know what he's talking about and I'm sure his knowledge is real ! Agree with Natha, and Gorse : very well said, amen to that ! Always El.
TheMemphisFan wrote on January 16, 2015
Chop983 wrote: "When you consider the fact that he is only well known in the US..." The real fact is that Garth Brooks is also well known & very popular in Ireland... for whatever reason.
Boxcar wrote on January 21, 2015
Garth threw his 8 CD box on the market and sold them at Wal-Mart for a handful of Dollars. Thus it was a big seller. Even me as a casual Garth fan re-bought the CDs for this very small Price. I've heard they count every unit as 8 sold CDs while the RIAA does not count Elvis' Budget CDs for some unknown reason. So, every 1 million sold boxes were counted by the RIAA as 8 mio. Garth CDs. Maybe Sony should re-release the 30 CD Sony masters box as a 20 Dollar Wal-Mart budget-offer, too. With only 1 mio boxes sold nationwide it would be 30.000.000 more Elvis records sold and he would be back on top within a week. I think those comparisons don't work. Times, people, market, multi-media, circumstances .. everything changed. And worst of all .. RIAA counts with different measures.
shawnrw wrote on January 26, 2015
I really don't put much worth in all these supposed official stats anymore. Trying to compare Elvis's stats is like trying to compare the stats of Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb to current ballplayers. The landscape of everything and how business is done is so incredibly different for Elvis than it is for someone like Brooks. Plus, there has been such a wealth of bootleg records and odd ball off shoot labels selling Elvis records over the past six decades how can any count b truly correct. A fan buys a Elvis recording they don't care if it is official or not, if it's by RCA, Sony or Joe Whoever's music label. There is absolutely no way this product is officially recognized. Plus contemporary performers have a huge advantage with downloads. I know many times when I was a kid I would go to the local music store and they might be out of the record/tape/CD I wanted. That doesn't happen with downloads. All these factors and others make it much tougher for performers of the past to compete with today's performers. The field and business has just changed too much to compare. Elvis is at a huge disadvantage.
Ian R Bird wrote on March 03, 2015
I have never met anyone who owns a Garth Brooks record. Just saying!