Who are the richest musicians of 2021? These artists made out like bandits for selling their music.
The highest-paid musicians of 2021 brought in a combined $2.3 billion, according to reports. That’s more than double what these artists were making before the COVID-19 pandemic. So with touring out of commission, how did the richest musicians earn their scrap?
Mainly by selling the rights to their music catalogs for huge sums. In fact, of the ten musicians on this list, only Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Taylor Swift did not make the list through catalog sale.
Taylor Swift is the only female to be found in the top ten list. Rolling Stone notes that you have to go to the top fifteen artists to find the next woman, and Stevie Nicks’ $100 million catalog sale in December 2020 makes her miss the cut-off for the 2021 year.
How artists make money since the COVID-19 pandemic has set in has drastically changed, too. Zack O’Malley Greenberg reports that over a dozen acts achieved $100 million gross revenue on the road alone in 2019. In 2020, not a single act achieved that feat, and only one in 2021 – The Rolling Stones.
The Richest Musicians of 2021 – Ranked
10. Taylor Swift – $80 million
9. Blake Shelton – $83 million
8. Mötley Crüe – $95 million
7. Lindsey Buckingham – $100 million
6. Red Hot Chili Peppers – $145 million
5. Ryan Tedder – $200 million
4. Kanye West – $250 million
3. Paul Simon – $260 million
2. Jay-Z – $470 million
1. Bruce Springsteen – $590 million
These estimates were put together for the calendar year 2021 and reflect pre-tax income. It’s also income before deducting business expenses like managers, agents, lawyers, living expenses, and more.
But it paints a picture that catalog sale has become highly profitable for some of the biggest names in the business. And it’s why financial firms like Hipgnosis are lining up to buy music rights from rockers who are ready to sell for a substantial payout.