There’s a distinct difference between the phrases ‘the greatest’ and ‘the biggest’ when attempting to decipher a complex debate. One is a subjective statement, while the other is objective. Although, when all is said and done, a degree of subjectivity is typically the culprit behind a bold claim which then, in turn, spurs a volley of protest, one that confirms its own biases to be fuelled by a subjectivity disguised as alleged objectivity. It seems as if we can never escape the realm of opinions, especially when we are talking about music or any other type of art.
Time is another significant factor in deciding which group has survived within the annals of popular opinion. As newer generations of music listeners come of age, simply ask them who they think are the biggest band. The answer would probably differ from generation to generation. But just like time can be highly unforgiving to bands, in that many great groups have been forgotten over the years, there are a number of classic bands that have survived the test of time, which could add a level of authenticity to a subjective answer.
To be more specific, acts such as Queen, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, and many more have all, at one point or another, been considered for the title of ‘the biggest in the world’.
The answer, however, is more definitive than what the ambiguity of subjectivity would have us believe.
Who is the biggest band of all time?
The Beatles are the biggest band of all time for very specific reasons. There are many who will disagree with this statement, although I would be so bold as to say that they are simply wrong in disagreeing with me.
Not only have The Beatles survived and will further survive within the nucleus of our collective consciousness, but they are also one of the top-selling, if not biggest-selling, artists of all time.
As of 2020, according to Business Insider, The Beatles are at number one, having sold around 183 million units.
According to Chart Masters, The Beatles hold the number one spot for the most amount of sales and online streams in multiple categories.
The number of sales and streams for The Beatles
The Beatles go above and beyond any of their rivals when it comes to the sheer volume of sales and streams of their music.
Remarkably, the Fab Four have sold over 160 million albums, over 200 million other LP sales and over 115 million physical single sales. Honestly, it is the type of numbers that can fry your brain if you overthink it.
- Studio Album Sales: 160,650,000
- Other LPs Sales: 203,392,000
- Physical Singles Sales: 116,080,000
- Digital Singles Sales: 32,230,000
- Streams EAS (Equivalent Album Sales): 11,493,000 (Updated on 7/23/21)
Who are the runner-ups?
While The Beatles lead the way, we must also explore the other significant acts that have dominated record sales in the history of contemporary culture.
According to Chart Masters, Michael Jackson is in second place; Elvis Presley is third; Queen is fourth; Madonna is fifth; The Rolling Stones, sixth; Pink Floyd is seventh; Led Zeppelin, Elton John, and U2 complete the list of the top ten best-selling artists of all time.
Who is the biggest band today, and why?
Currently, the South Korean boy band BTS is the biggest group at the moment. As of the week of July 24th, 2021, they are number one in the Billboard Artist 100 and have remained on the chart for an incredible 249 weeks.
The phenomenon of the rise of BTS, otherwise known as The Bangstan Boys, is a culturally important one. They are the first South Korean music group to reach number one on the Billboard Global 200 and US Billboard Hot 100. They are also the first group to achieve three number one debuts on the Hot 100 chart.