Biggest selling artist of the 21st century

by Sheldon Rocha Leal


The music industry has been flooded by various new artists that have become superstars in the last few years, whilst more established artists are no longer as successful as they once were.

Artists like Celine Dion, Madonna, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey have in recent years seen a drop in sales numbers and have made way for a whole new era of superstars, people like: Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Adele and Mumford and Sons.

But who is the most biggest selling artist of them all…

Who is it?

So we are only 16 years into the 21st century, but already there is a clear leader when it comes to the race for biggest selling artists of the current millennium.

One would think that anyone of the names mentioned above would be contenders for the crown of biggest selling recording artist of the 21st century. Yet there sales figures are nowhere near the sales of the King of the current millennium.

The artist who dominates the 21st century is probably one of the most unlikely stars. He is not as highly visible as he once was and I don’t think that anyone would have thought anything of him, when he first launched his career in the 1990's.

Eminem has been in music industry for 20 years this year. His first album, Infinite, was released in 1996. That album didn’t even chart and it only sold 1000 units. His second album, The Slim Shady LP, was released in 1999 and sold over 18million units internationally. But that was only the beginning of what would become a very successful career.

King of 21st century album sales

His first album release in the new millennium was The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) that album went to No 1 USA/UK and sold over 32million units internationally, making it the biggest selling album of the millennium. He followed this album with The Eminem Show (2002) which once again peaked at No 1 USA/UK and sold over 30million units internationally. That was followed by 8 Mile Soundtrack (2002), 15 million units internationally; Encore (2004), 21million units internationally; Curtain Call (2005), 15 million; Eminem Presents: The Re-Up (2006), 5 million; Relapse (2009), 6,3 million units internationally; Recovery (2010), 16 million units internationally; The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013), 6,5 million units internationally.

That’s a total of 147million albums sold in 16 years, 8 consecutive No 1 albums in the USA/UK and the biggest selling album in the 21st Century.


Who would have thought that a thin white guy from a trailer park would become the biggest selling Hip-Hop star of all time, the biggest selling artist of the 21st century and score with the biggest selling Hip-Hop and overall album of the 21st century. It just goes to prove that one cannot underestimate anyone, not even a thin white guy from a trailer park.