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Old 01-15-2022, 09:00 PM
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Default 2021 top 10 highest paid musicians - Rolling Stone

Nine of the 10 Highest-Paid Musicians of 2021 Were Men

In a year with little touring, acts who scored megadeals offstage ended up on top. A booming market for music rights means many earned more than they did pre-pandemic — especially aging rockers


Photo Illustration by Sean McCabe for Rolling Stone. Photographs in illustration, from left: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images; Evan Agostini/Invision/AP; Erika Goldring/WireImage; Neil Mockford/GC Images

Of all the supposedly “pandemic-proof” jobs out there, here’s a surprising one: rock star. The world’s 10 highest-paid musicians of 2021 raked in a combined $2.3 billion, more than double what they were making on an annual basis in the years right before Covid-19.

The coronavirus has decimated touring, with brutal effects for artists who rely on gigs as a primary source of income. But up in the stratosphere, icons from Bruce Springsteen to Paul Simon found other ways to cash in — namely by offloading their catalogs for nine-figure sums.

“These are almost like pieces of art — there’s a finite number of real, super-high-quality hit songs from the past — and there’s this sort of all-out grab to own those rights,” says Josh Gruss, founder and CEO of Round Hill Music, which has spent $1.3 billion on music copyrights over the past decade. “It’s a very steady stream of revenue that’s there, and that makes it very attractive for investment.”

Only Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Taylor Swift made the cut without a massive catalog sale (scroll down to see the full ranking). The remaining seven of music’s 10 top earners banked the bulk of their bucks by selling copyrights. Underscoring the industry’s persistent pay gap, they’re all white men (Stevie Nicks sold her catalog for $100 million in December 2020, just missing our cutoff). You have to expand to the top 15 to find music’s second highest-paid woman or an act born outside the United States.

This unfortunate reality has roots as old as the music business itself, particularly when it comes to gender disparity. For every Springsteen signed to a record deal, how many female rockers were ignored? For every Dylan given freedom to write his songs — and accumulate intellectual property — how many women got pigeonholed as just singers? For every Simon who maintained or negotiated the return of his rights decades ago, how many female icons were denied that respect? And so it goes for so many underrepresented demographics in the industry.

There are at least few younger names amongst all the septuagenarian centimillionaires. Some of the bigger catalog sales, like Ryan Tedder’s $200 million deal, have already been reported. Others, including Blake Shelton’s $50 million-plus rights sale, have not. Regardless, it’s clear investors are finally seeing the value of music in the streaming age — for better or worse.

“There’s great irony in the fact that while Wall Street takes note of songs’ value, the digital platforms often don’t,” says Jody Gerson, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group. “Which means we must continue to fight for our songwriters both in terms of the value of what they create and in terms of the treating songs as art, not as assets.”

So, for music’s one-percenters, what’s the incentive to sell? There’s a range of factors, some of them arcane and overlooked, like tax rates: The sale of a catalog is typically treated as a capital gain, and therefore taxed at a much lower rate than a royalty check.

Then there’s the fact that music consumption continues to soar, with global on-demand spins surging 26.3% year-over-year. That figure got a major boost from back catalog streaming, which spiked 19.3% this year and accounted for 69.8% of overall listening.

On top of that, low interest rates around the world mean megabuyers like private-equity firm KKR and Merck Mercuriadis’ Hipgnosis Songs Fund can afford to borrow cheaply, spurring them to pay higher multiples and write larger checks.

But many insiders feel these conditions are likely to shift in the not-so-distant future. Some expect to see tax-code changes, while others worry rising inflation could lead to higher interest rates.

“That has to cause some sort of adjustment in the multiples being paid,” says Gruss, who believes the music-rights market is nearing its peak, at least on the high end. “But I’ve been wrong before — every year when I think it’s maxed out, it keeps going.”

Read on to see the full ranking of the world’s top-earning musicians. The list measures pretax income for calendar year 2021 before deducting fees for agents, managers, lawyers, living expenses, etc. Estimates are generated by scouring public documents and interviewing individuals with direct knowledge of major deals.

After a decade at Forbes, Zack O’Malley Greenburg covers the business of music at Substack — find his work, including top earners No. 11-15, here. He’s the author of four music books, including the Jay-Z biography Empire State of Mind. His stories have also appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, and Vanity Fair.

Photo Illustrations by Sean McCabe for Rolling Stone. Photographs in illustrations by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP (Swift); Jason Kempin/ACMA2021/Getty Images (Shelton); Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP (Motley Crüe); Lauren Dukoff (Buckingham); Gus Van Zant (Red Hot Chili Peppers); Hubert Boesl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP (Tedder); David Livingston/Getty Images (West); Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images (Simon); Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA/AP (Jay-Z); Danny Clinch (Springsteen)

Taylor Swift ($80 million)

Though her catalog was famously sold out from under her, Swift’s revenge moves helped her land in the top 10 anyway. She’s been rerecording her old albums, rereleasing a pair this past year. Both topped the charts, with Red (Taylor’s Version) and Fearless (Taylor’s Version) becoming the No. 2 and No. 4 albums of 2021 in terms of total sales, respectively. Partnerships with the likes of Peloton and Starbucks further padded her coffers.

Blake Shelton ($83 million)

The only country singer on this list, Shelton landed a windfall north of $50 million for a previously unreported catalog sale of his own. He further juiced his earnings with his eight-figure salary for The Voice, new album Body Language, and a tour that grossed $14.5 million even amid a challenging pandemic landscape.

Mötley Crüe ($95 million)

Widely reported at $150 million when news of the band’s master-recordings sale to BMG broke, Mötley Crüe’s take was actually closer to $90 million, according to insiders. It’s still a hefty haul, made possible by the heavy-metal mainstays’ rare ability to hang on to their masters until now.

Lindsey Buckingham ($100 million)

Just weeks after Fleetwood Mac bandmate Stevie Nicks sold her rights to Primary Wave in a $100 million deal in late 2020, Buckingham followed by inking a similar-size pact with Hipgnosis. The publishing catalog he parted with includes more than 160 songs, among them a primary songwriter credit on the eminently licensable “Go Your Own Way.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers ($145 million)

The seminal alt-rockers sold their publishing catalog to Hipgnosis in May, but they didn’t exactly give it away, now. According to insiders, the band banked $140 million for a bevy of songs written throughout a career that now spans five decades. The Chili Peppers are said to be working on a new album, due out later this year.

Ryan Tedder ($200 million)

OneRepublic’s frontman has also penned hits with the likes of Adele, Taylor Swift, and U2. His $60 million catalog sale in 2017 turned out to be just a warmup — last January, private-equity giant KKR bought the vast majority of his remaining publishing copyrights; he took home just shy of $200 million. Tedder continues to earn elsewhere: OneRepublic released Human, its fifth studio album, in August.

Kanye West ($250 million)

The multihyphenate creator recently changed his legal name to “Ye,” but it’s his Yeezy footwear empire that accounted for the vast majority of his income in the past year. New album Donda — released in August and named after West’s late mother — became his ninth consecutive solo record to top the charts. And there’s more on the horizon: West’s new apparel deal with Gap should keep him toward the top of this list for years to come.

Paul Simon ($260 million)

The singer-songwriter sold his entire catalog to Sony Music Publishing last March. Encompassing some 400 compositions, the deal spanned Simon’s solo work as well as rights to songs he wrote as part of Simon and Garfunkel. The pact also united his publishing rights with his master recordings, already housed at Sony.

Jay-Z ($470 million)

Hip-hop’s first billionaire may be the runner-up on this year’s list, but he just clocked the highest annual earnings total of his career. Last February, he sold half of his Armand de Brignac champagne to luxury giant LVMH for $300 million. A few months later, he and his Tidal co-owners offloaded 80 percent of the streaming service — originally purchased for $56 million — to Square for $302 million. His portfolio also includes partnerships with Puma and Tiffany & Co.

Bruce Springsteen ($590 million)

The Boss cashes in: Springsteen sold his publishing copyrights and master recordings to Sony, his longtime musical home, in December. His $550 million haul made history as the largest sale of a solo catalog to date. A return to Broadway this past summer added millions to his tally, as did two projects with Barack Obama: a Spotify podcast called Renegades: Born in the USA and a book of the same title, derived from the two icons’ candid conversations on everything from music to fatherhood.

"kind of weird: a tribute to the dearly departed from a band that can treat its living like trash"
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Old 01-16-2022, 09:11 AM
UnwindedDreams UnwindedDreams is offline
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I guess RollingStone has a source at Hipgnosis because there was no mention of the sale amount when the deal was announced last year.
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Old 01-19-2022, 06:34 PM
michelej1 michelej1 is offline
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Hmmm. if this is true, I am thrilled. I was thinking it sold for much less, frankly.
I mean, I trust Rolling Stone as a source. If it had come from another publication, I would have just ignored it.
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Old 02-11-2022, 10:42 PM
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Default now Forbes

Forbes listing highest entertainers net worth:

Culture 11 Feb 2022 08:42 PM
Peter Jackson tops Forbes Highest-Paid Entertainers 2022 list

Forbes rolled out the list for Highest-Paid Entertainers 2022 on 11 February and it includes many illustrious names.

Honouring those personalities who have ruled the silver screen, have kept the stages alive and have been an integral part in running the global entertainment industry, the Forbes list is a mark of respect, recognition and a zeal to carry the legacy forward.

With their remarkable songs and lyrics that have touched our hearts, astounding acting that has breathed life into characters and direction and films, these entertainers have made a special place in the hearts of global audiences, music lovers and movie buffs.

Filmmakers, actors, musicians, bands and other performers feature in this list of entertainers who have created a mark for themselves like no other. While some have created history and record by featuring on the list, for some it is a monumental feat to reach the coveted position.

Kiwi film director and the person who has held the reins of Lord Of The Rings, Peter Jackson, tops the list with his staggering net worth that goes into billions. He is the third filmmaker to join the billion dollar directors’ club after Steven Speilberg and George Lucas. He mostly owes his net worth to the sale of his visual effects company Weta Digital to Unity Software.

Jackson, reportedly, took home a whopping amount of USD 600 million from the USD 1.6 billion deal to sell a part of the company. The transaction took place in November 2021 and catapulted his worth to make him bag the first position in this list.

Forbes highest paid entertainers: Bruce Springsteen
Image: Courtesy Bruce Springsteen/ Twitter

Three women feature on the Forbes list of Highest-Paid Entertainers 2022 — actor Reese Witherspoon (at no. 12), American TV producer Shonda Rhimes (at no. 18) and Taylor Swift (at no. 25).

Several other stalwarts make it to the list, including Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kanye West.

Here are the Forbes top 25 Highest-Paid Entertainers 2022

1. Peter Jackson, Filmmaker
Net worth: USD 580 million

2. Bruce Springsteen, Singer and Musician
Net worth: USD 435 million

3. Jay-Z, Singer and Songwriter
Net worth: USD 340 million

4. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Actor
Net worth: USD 270 million

Forbes highest paid entertainer list 2022: Dwayne The Rock Johnson
Image: Courtesy therock/@therock/ Instagram

5. Kanye West, Singer and Songwriter
Net worth: USD 235 million

6. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Animators and Actors
Net worth: USD 210 million

7. Paul Simon, Singer, Songwriter and Actor
Net worth: USD 200 million

8 Tyler Perry, Actor, Director and Playwright
Net worth: USD 165 million

9. Ryan Tedder, Singer and Songwriter
Net worth: USD 160 million

10. Bob Dylan, Singer and Songwriter
Net worth: USD 130 million

Forbes highest paid entertainers list 2022: Bob Dylan
Image: Courtesy Bob Dylan/ @bobdylan/ Instagram

11. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rock Band
Net worth: USD 116 million

Forbes highest paid entertainers list 2022: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Image: Courtesy Red Hot Chili Peppers/ @chilipeppers/ Instagram

12. Reese Witherspoon, Actor and Producer
Net worth: USD 115 million

Forbes highest paid entertainers list 2022: Reese Witherspoon
Image: Courtesy Reese Witherspoon/ @reesewitherspoon/ Instagram

13. Chuck Lorre, Television Director and Writer
Net worth: USD 100 million

14. Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, Rapper and Producer
Net worth: USD 90 million

15. Dick Wolf, Television show creator, Producer and Writer
Net worth: USD 86 million

16. Howard Stern, Radio Personality
Net worth: USD 85 million

17. Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane – Television show creators, directors and producers
Net worth: USD 82 million

18. Shonda Rhimes, Producer
Net worth: USD 81 million

Forbes highest paid entertainers list: Shonda Rhimes
Image: CourtesyShonda Rhimes/ @shondarhimes/ Instagram

19. Neil Young, Singer and Musician
Net worth: USD 80 million

20. Greg Berlanti, Television Writer
Net worth: USD 75 million

21. Lindsey Buckingham, Guitarist
Net worth: USD 73 million

22. Mötley Crüe, Metal Band
Net worth: USD 72 million

23. Beach Boys, Surf Rock Band
Net worth: USD 64 million

24. Blake Shelton, Country Music Singer and Songwriter
Net worth: USD 55 million

25. Taylor Swift, Singer and songwriter
Net worth: USD 52 million

Forbes highest paid entertainers list 2022: Taylor Swift
Image: Courtesy Taylor Swift/ @taylorswift/ Instagram

Forbes’ methodology: Figures represent 2021 pre tax earnings, minus fees for representation— managers, lawyers, agents— and/or business operating costs. Sources include data from Nielsen BookScan, MRC Data, Pollstar, IMBDPro and Variety Insight, as well as interviews with agents, lawyers, managers, executives and industry experts.

(Main image: courtesy Peter Jackson/Facebook; Featured image: courtesy therock/@therock/ Instagram)

"kind of weird: a tribute to the dearly departed from a band that can treat its living like trash"
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Old 02-11-2022, 11:06 PM
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It boggles the mind that a TV writer has more money than Lindsey!

TV writer!!!!

And that Blake Shelton and Taylor Swift aren't that far behind him.
And I'm David, not Homer!(we all should be able to change our name, at least once)
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Old 02-12-2022, 06:35 AM
John Run John Run is offline
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The Forbes article above is so poorly written and worded. There is a difference between net worth, single year gross earnings, single year net earnings, and they seem to conflate all three.

The article states early on that their numbers as highest paid entertainers are for 2022, at the end it says it earnings are based on 2021 pre tax earnings (single year gross) less fees and expenses (single year net) and in between it calls the earnings net worth. Your net worth is not your net income before taxes in a single year, which is what this list appears to be. Net Worth is your cumulative value of all assets, less the amount of all liabilities.

Lots of number and word salad to basically say Lindsey is really wealthy. He doesn't need to make albums, tour, or do anything at this time in his life. That's why I always laugh when you see the posts about new albums sales and current touring income or having to pay for colleges or houses, etc. He doesn't need any of it at this juncture from a financial standpoint, and hasn't for years. His net worth has been high 8 figures to low 9 figures for 20 plus years. From a net worth standpoint (value of assets versus liabilities) he is likely the wealthiest member of the Fleetwood Mac tree (other than Irving Azoff). His royalty income as an artist, writer, producer, a seemingly simpler, less expensive lifestyle prior to marriage, (in comparison to other members 1975-2000 lifestyles), the 1997 and later touring income stream, and a broad investment and real estate portfolio put him in a position where the $100 million dollar sale of his rights catalog served only as the earnings capper to 45 plus years of being a millionaire plus.

His wife is extremely wealthy based on spousal rights to an equal share of earnings while married and his children are all going to be worth an enormous amount of money when he passes and may already be depending on the wealth sharing and trust arrangements he has in place.

Last edited by John Run; 02-12-2022 at 07:47 AM..
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