Skip to main content

Billboard ranks The Beatles as the number one greatest artist of all time. However, they also spent the least time on the charts compared to nine other groundbreaking music superstars. How did this happen? A new report shares all the details.

The Beatles (from left to right, John Lennon (1940 - 1980), George Harrison (1943 - 2001), Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr) arrive back at London Airport after their Australian tour.
The Beatles | Fox Photos/Getty Images

The Beatles’ success is attributed not only to hard work but their ability to adapt to the changing culture of the 1960s

The fab four’s widespread success was unprecedented. Many music superstars were before John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison. However, in the ever-changing 1960s, the band’s adapting ability kept them at the center of a cultural zeitgeist.

The Beatles’ first United States appearances may have shocked an older generation, but their music was a soft sell. Songs about falling in and out of love appeared non-threatening. These tunes allowed the band to slowly lean into a generation of teenagers looking for a change.

The Beatles subsequently grew with their audiences, snaking their way through the late 1960s by developing a new sound reflective of the experimental times. They continued to innovate; through this, their evolution was linked to societal developments, wrote This Is Dig

As a band, The Beatles lasted for only eight years. However, the volume of work they produced continues to influence artists today.

The fab four are considered the greatest artist in music with the least years of chart time

A study by Century Link revealed that although The Beatles may be considered the greatest artist of all time per Billboard, they had the least amount of chart time. Data analysis revealed some surprising findings.

The study began with Billboard’s Top 10 Greatest Artists of All Time. Subsequently, it looked at the number of songs each artist on the chart had on the Hot 100. Next, how often songs by these top artists appeared on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 between June 1962 and June 2022 were calculated. Finally, each artist’s song’s positions on the charts are factored in.

Compiling this data revealed that The Beatles, although wildly influential in the music industry, ranked 10th with 12 years of consecutive chart hits. Ahead of the fab four were the following artists placed from ninth to first: Taylor Swift, Barbra Streisand, Chicago, The Rolling Stones, Mariah Carey, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson. Topping the list was Elton John, with 50 years of chart hits.

Taylor Swift beat The Beatles in chart time, and YouTube subscribers

Taylor Swift performs onstage as Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, SZA and Becky G perform at The Prime Day concert, presented by Amazon Music at on July 10, 2019 at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City
Taylor Swift | Getty Images/Kevin Mazur

Paul McCartney Once Wrote a Secret Letter to Prince, What Did It Say?

The study also showed that Taylor Swift bested The Beatles in chart time and YouTube subscribers.

Swift is the youngest artist at 32 to make the top 10. She exceeded The Beatles’ time on the weekly Hot 100 charts. The singer and songwriter charts hit songs on the Hot 100 for 14 years and counting.

However, The Beatles still hold the highest ranking song on the Greatest of All Time Hot 100, with “Hey Jude” peaking at number 13. Subsequently, four top 10 Billboard Greatest of All Time Artists made their Billboard Hot 100 debuts in 1964: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand, and Stevie Wonder.