After the 1980s expanded how many ways the public could listen to their favorite music - boombox anyone? - record companies in the 1990s used the tools to flood the market with albums, singles, box sets, and everything else you might want. CDs outsold cassettes and vinyl and people changed their radios from cassette players to CD players.
But instead of working on new subgenre, record companies wanted to give us a lot more pop instead of emerging rock. Thankfully, Nirvana and the Seattle grunge scene changed that for a time until record companies figured out how to mass-produce that as well.
Maybe due to this, record sales actually dipped in the 1990s because many of the musical artists being unleashed on the public simply didn't seem organic or overly talented. The record companies made a quick dollar but the music overall suffered in quality. Possibly because of that, the 1990s, according to Chart Masters, became the first decade since the 1950s when most of the best-selling performers were not rock-related.
Best-selling musical artists of the 1990s might shock you
Number 5: Nirvana (80,179,000 records)
Nirvana only released three studio albums. Of course, the unfortunate death of guitarist/singer Kurt Cobain ended the band, otherwise, we might have gotten many more years of the band's type of punk-infused rock that had a big dose of Beatles-style sensibilities. Their second album, Nevermind (featuring the single - "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - that would change the kind of music many radio stations would play), sold 30 million copies worldwide while their third and last LP, In Utero, sold 15 million globally.
Number 4: Whitney Houston (88,381,000 records)
Houston has actually sold 220 million records worldwide in all the decades combined that she was making music. She released only two studio albums in the 1990s - I'm Your Baby Tonight (1990) and My Love Is Your Love (1998) - and each sold as much as 10 million copies worldwide. Houston passed away in 2012.
Number 3: Garth Brooks (108,309,000)
Garth Brooks' style got him a fanbase that went far beyond country music, though he is the best-selling country artist ever. Six of his albums have been certified diamond (each with at least 10 million units sold) which no other artist, not even the Beatles, can claim. He released nine studio albums in the 1990s with two of them being Christmas albums. Five of the seven non-holiday albums sold at least 10 million copies each.
Number 2: Mariah Carey (144,462,000)
From Brooks to Carey there is an astonishing 36 million units jump. One might have assumed Carey sold a lot of records, but this many in the 1990s? That seems insane. Carey released seven studio albums in the decade and one of those was a Christmas record. The Holiday album alone sold 8 million units, though. None of her studio LPs in the 1990s sold fewer than 4 million units, however.
Number 1: Celine Dion (160,090,000)
If you were at a party and someone asked you to guess who sold the most records in the 1990s would you answer, "Celine Dion, of course!" I mean, it's right to think Dion has sold a lot of records, but nearly 16 million more units in the 1990s than anyone else? Dion released nine studio albums in the decade and (I kid you not) three of them sold at least 20 million units with two of them, 1996's Falling into You, and 1997's Let's Talk About Love, selling at least 31 million units.