The band, who were put together during the 2010 series of X Factor, were named the Global Recording Artists of 2013 by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which represents the music business around the world.
The award measures success in downloading, streaming and physical sales of singles and albums.
The band’s latest album, Midnight Memories, topped the US Billboard Top 200 chart, making One Direction the first group in history to debut at number one with its first three albums.
The video for their single ‘Best Song Ever’ attracted almost 200m views on YouTube, and its follow-up, ‘Story of My Life’, recorded more than 100m views.
The second and third spots on the chart went to US rapper Eminem and Justin Timberlake, with Bruno Mars and Katy Perry completing the top five.
IFPI chief executive Frances Moore said: “Many congratulations to One Direction who topped a talented field to become the IFPI Global Recording Artists of 2013.
“This is a global IFPI award for a new era of music consumption, based on a new metric of global success. Our chart for the first time measures the popularity of artists across the many different ways in which fans choose their music.”
Mullingar band member Niall Horan said that it was “incredible news”.
He said: “It’s great to have a chart that includes everything from iTunes and record stores, to YouTube and Spotify. Again a huge thank you to all of our fans for such an amazing 2013.”
The IFPI top 10 global recording artists 2013:
1 – One Direction
2 – Eminem
3 – Justin Timberlake
4 – Bruno Mars
5 – Katy Perry
6 – Pink
7 – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
8 – Rihanna
9 – Michael Buble
10 – Daft Punk