The Top 25 Best Selling Hard Rock + Metal Artists of All Time
Ever wonder who are the best selling hard rock and metal artists of all time?
In the digital age, it's more complicated to measure who has "sold" the most music. When music simply existed on vinyl, cassettes, or CD, the powers that be would just count up how many of those things were bought and that'd be a wrap. Nowadays, because we don't traditionally "pay" for music anymore, one has to assign a sales value to "occasions of listening" in the streaming world to be fair and accurate.
Music writer Ryan J. Downey (MTV, Billboard, Hollywood Reporter and Loudwire) and host of the 'Speak N' Destroy' Metallica podcast found a recipe from ChartMaster.org and took the time to parse out the hard rock and metal artists in a recent installment of his Stream N' Destroy newsletter (the newsletter offers detailed data insight on sales, streaming, shows, socials, and more related to hard hard rock and metal if you're into that sort of thing).
We're gonna introduce an overly-laborious name of this recipe to you: It's called the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept, (or CSPC.) Now you can forget that name, but just remember that the CSPC has yet to cover several key artists, which explains how such high-selling acts such as Def Leppard and so many more megastars do not appear on this report.
All you really need to know is that the CSPC is based on a few, easy to understand metrics. It takes into account how many times an artist's album or single was actually (physically) bought, and also when an artist's song was bought after being featured on a compilation record. The formula also measures how many times a song was both bought digitally, and how many streams of a song account for a sale. (The answer is 1 sale per 1,500 audio streams, and 1 sale per 6,750 video streams.)
Got it? Great. Now let's see who the Top 25 Best Selling Hard Rock and Metal Artists of all time are, worldwide. Interesting fact we learned from this list: American bands are lagging way behind. A U.S. band isn't even in the Top 5.
And you can check out more of Ryan J. Downey's deep-dive music reporting and his Metallica podcast here.