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The 10 Richest Musicians of the Decade Made So Much Money It’s Stupid

Much about the 2010s has been a learning experience for the music industry. With the rise in streaming, the resurgence of vinyl, the fall and rise and fall of SoundCloud, and competitors like Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon Music eking their way into the fray, there’s been more ways to make money than ever. (Even if each of those services isn’t particularly profitable on their own…)


As we approach the end of the decade, Forbes has released a list of the top earning musicians of the decade. Despite having not released an album since 2015, and not touring since the turn of the millennium, and not producing a #1 hit since 2009, Dr. Dre comes out as #1 in the list. This is almost entirely due to his 20% stake in Beats, the bass-heavy headphone maker Apple bought for $3 billion in 2014.

The rest of the list follows a more traditional revenue model, with Taylor Swift raking in $825 million over the past decade, and Beyoncé coming in with $685 million. She comes in four places ahead of her husband JAY-Z, who netted $560 million.

However, Forbes notes that their ranking doesn’t “extend beyond the grave.”

“[…] if postmortem earnings were counted, Michael Jackson would be No. 1. His staggering $2.37 billion total for the decade by our count is higher than his estate’s recently filed estimate of $1.7 billion because we counted reinvested royalties from his half of the Sony/ATV publishing catalog (his estate sold the asset for $750 million in 2016). He easily tops his living peers by either measure.”

See the full list below.

1. Dr. Dre $950 million
2. Taylor Swift $825 million
3. Beyoncé $685 million
4. U2 $675 million
5. Diddy $605 million
6. Elton John $565 million
7. JAY-Z $560 million
8. Paul McCartney $535 million
9. Katy Perry $530 million
10. Lady Gaga $500 million

 

Forbes | Photo  Jason Persse

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