Forbes list of the world's highest-paid musicians

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The highest-paid musicians[1][2][3] in the world have been reported annually by Forbes since at least 1987. For measurement, the magazine used pretax earnings—before deducting fees for agents, managers or lawyers.[4] Most of the lists were estimated within a June-to-June scoring period, except for 1999, 2021, and 2022 when a calendar year period was used instead.[5][6][7]

U2 became the annual highest-paid musician five times, more than any other act. They were also the highest-paid music group in a record eight different years. Michael Jackson became the first musician to earn over $100 million in a year (1989),[8] and has become the highest-paid male soloist a record seven times. Dr. Dre currently holds the record for the highest annual earnings for a musician, collecting $620 million in 2014, mainly through the sales of his headphone-manufacturing company, Beats Electronics.[9]

Madonna is the first woman in music to earn $100 million for a year (2009) and has become the highest-paid female musician a record 11 times. Taylor Swift remains the female musician with the highest annual earnings ever with $185 million in 2019, breaking previous record set by herself in 2016 with $170 million.[10][11] Although Forbes named Rihanna as the world's richest female musician, she has never topped any annual earnings list. Most of her wealth does not come from her realized income, but from the stock value of her cosmetics company, Fenty Beauty.[12]

Highest-paid musicians by year[edit]

U2 became the annual highest-paid musician a record five times and the annual highest-paid music group a record eight times.
Michael Jackson became the annual highest-paid musician three times and the annual highest-paid male solo musician a record seven times.
Madonna became the annual highest-paid musician three times and the annual highest-paid female musician a record eleven times.
Key
*
Indicates the year's highest-paid celebrity (all fields of entertainment)
Highest-paid musicians of the year
Year Musician Nationality Earnings Adjusted earnings
(in 2023 dollar)
Ref.
1987 Bruce Springsteen United States $56 million $150 million [13][14]
1988 Michael Jackson * United States $97 million $250 million [15][16]
1989 Michael Jackson * United States $125 million $307 million [17][18]
1990 Michael Jackson United States $100 million $233 million [19]
1991 New Kids on the Block * United States $115 million $257 million [20][21]
1992 New Kids on the Block United States $62 million $135 million [22]
1993 Guns N' Roses United States $53 million $112 million [23][24]
1994 Pink Floyd United Kingdom $62 million $127 million [25][26]
1995 The Beatles United Kingdom $130 million $260 million [27]
1996 The Beatles United Kingdom $130 million $253 million [28]
1997 The Beatles United Kingdom $98 million $186 million [29]
1998 The Rolling Stones United Kingdom $57 million $107 million [30]
1999 Backstreet Boys United States $60 million $110 million [31]
2001 The Beatles United Kingdom $70 million $120 million [32]
2002 U2 Ireland $69 million $117 million [33]
2003 The Rolling Stones United Kingdom $66.5 million $110 million [34]
2004 Bruce Springsteen United States $64 million $103 million [35]
2005 Madonna United States $50 million $78 million [36]
2006 U2 Ireland $110 million $166 million [37]
2007 The Rolling Stones United Kingdom $110 million $162 million [38]
2008 The Police United Kingdom $115 million $163 million [39]
2009 Madonna United States $110 million $156 million [40]
2010 U2 Ireland $130 million $182 million [41]
2011 U2 Ireland $195 million $264 million [42]
2012 Dr. Dre United States $110 million $146 million [43]
2013 Madonna * United States $125 million $164 million [44]
2014 Dr. Dre * United States $620 million $798 million [45]
2015 Katy Perry United States $135 million $174 million [46]
2016 Taylor Swift * United States $170 million $216 million [3]
2017 Diddy * United States $130 million $162 million [47]
2018 U2 Ireland $118 million $143 million [48]
2019 Taylor Swift * United States $185 million $220 million [4]
2020 Kanye West United States $170 million $200 million [49]
2021 Bruce Springsteen United States $435 million $489 million [7]
2022 Genesis United Kingdom $230 million $239 million [50]

Group[edit]

The Beatles became the annual highest-paid musician four times and the annual highest-paid music group four times.
The Rolling Stones became the annual highest-paid musician three times and the annual highest-paid music group five times.
Eagles became the annual highest-paid music group three times.
Highest-paid music groups of the year
Year Music group Nationality Earnings Adjusted earnings
(in 2023 dollar)
Ref.
1987 U2 Ireland $37 million $99 million [13][14]
1988 U2 Ireland $42 million $108 million [15][16]
1989 Pink Floyd United Kingdom $56 million $138 million [17][18]
1990 The Rolling Stones United Kingdom $88 million $205 million [19]
1991 New Kids on the Block * United States $115 million $257 million [20][21]
1992 New Kids on the Block United States $62 million $135 million [22]
1993 Guns N' Roses United States $53 million $112 million [23][24]
1994 Pink Floyd United Kingdom $62 million $127 million [25][26]
1995 The Beatles United Kingdom $130 million $260 million [27]
1996 The Beatles United Kingdom $130 million $253 million [28]
1997 The Beatles United Kingdom $98 million $186 million [29]
1998 The Rolling Stones United Kingdom $57 million $107 million [30]
1999 Backstreet Boys United States $60 million $110 million [31]
2001 The Beatles United Kingdom $70 million $120 million [32]
2002 U2 Ireland $69 million $117 million [33]
2003 The Rolling Stones United Kingdom $66.5 million $110 million [34]
2004 The Rolling Stones United Kingdom $51 million $82 million [35]
2005 Eagles United States $45 million $70 million [36]
2006 U2 Ireland $110 million $166 million [37]
2007 The Rolling Stones United Kingdom $110 million $162 million [38]
2008 The Police United Kingdom $115 million $163 million [39]
2009 Rascal Flatts United States $60 million $85 million [40]
2010 U2 Ireland $130 million $182 million [41]
2011 U2 Ireland $195 million $264 million [42]
2012 U2 Ireland $78 million $104 million [43]
2013 Bon Jovi United States $79 million $103 million [44]
2014 Eagles United States $100 million $129 million [45]
2015 One Direction United Kingdom / Ireland $130 million $167 million [46]
2016 One Direction United Kingdom / Ireland $110 million $140 million [3]
2017 Coldplay United Kingdom $88 million $109 million [47]
2018 U2 Ireland $118 million $143 million [48]
2019 Eagles United States $100 million $119 million [4]
2020 Jonas Brothers United States $68.5 million $81 million [49]
2021 Red Hot Chili Peppers United States $116 million $130 million [7]
2022 Genesis United Kingdom $230 million $239 million [50]

Male[edit]

Bruce Springsteen became the annual highest-paid musician three times and the annual highest-paid male solo musician six times.
Elton John became the annual highest-paid male solo musician three times.
Garth Brooks became the annual highest-paid male solo musician three times.
Highest-paid male solo musicians of the year
Year Musician Nationality Earnings Adjusted earnings
(in 2023 dollar)
Ref.
1987 Bruce Springsteen United States $56 million $150 million [13][14]
1988 Michael Jackson * United States $97 million $250 million [15]
1989 Michael Jackson * United States $125 million $307 million [17][18]
1990 Michael Jackson United States $100 million $233 million [19]
1991 Michael Jackson United States $60 million $134 million [20][21]
1992 Michael Jackson United States $51 million $111 million [22]
1993 Prince United States $49 million $103 million [23][24]
1994 Garth Brooks United States $41 million $84 million [25][26]
1995 Michael Jackson United States $67 million $134 million [27]
1996 Michael Jackson United States $90 million $175 million [28]
1997 David Bowie United Kingdom $63 million $120 million [29]
1998 Master P United States $56.5 million $106 million [30]
1999 Lou Bega[a] Germany $6 million $11 million [31]
2001 Dr. Dre United States $35 million $60 million [32]
2002 Elton John United Kingdom $30 million $51 million [52]
2003 Paul McCartney United Kingdom $59 million $98 million [34]
2004 Bruce Springsteen United States $64 million $103 million [35]
2005 Prince United States $49.7 million $78 million [36]
2006 Bruce Springsteen United States $55 million $83 million [37]
2007 Elton John United Kingdom $53 million $78 million [38]
2008 Toby Keith United States $48 million $68 million [39]
2009 Bruce Springsteen United States $70 million $99 million [40]
2010 Bruce Springsteen United States $70 million $98 million [41]
2011 Elton John United Kingdom $100 million $135 million [42]
2012 Dr. Dre United States $110 million $146 million [43]
2013 Toby Keith United States $65 million $85 million [44]
2014 Dr. Dre * United States $620 million $798 million [45]
2015 Garth Brooks United States $90 million $116 million [46]
2016 Garth Brooks United States $70 million $89 million [53]
2017 Diddy * United States $130 million $162 million [47]
2018 Ed Sheeran United Kingdom $110 million $133 million [48]
2019 Kanye West United States $150 million $179 million [4]
2020 Kanye West United States $170 million $200 million [49]
2021 Bruce Springsteen United States $435 million $489 million [7]
2022 Sting United Kingdom $210 million $219 million [50]

Female[edit]

Taylor Swift became the annual highest-paid musician twice and the annual highest-paid female musician four times.
Celine Dion became the annual highest-paid female musician four times.
Beyoncé became the annual highest-paid female musician four times.
Highest-paid female musicians of the year
Year Musician Nationality Earnings Adjusted earnings
(in 2023 dollar)
Ref.
1987 Madonna United States $47 million $126 million [13][14]
1988 Madonna United States $46 million $119 million [15][16]
1989 Madonna United States $43 million $106 million [17][54]
1990 Madonna United States $62 million $145 million [19]
1991 Madonna United States $63 million $141 million [20][21]
1992 Madonna United States $48 million $104 million [22]
1993 Madonna United States $37 million $78 million [23][24]
1994 Barbra Streisand United States $57 million $117 million [25][26]
1995 Barbra Streisand United States $63 million $126 million [27]
1996 Mariah Carey United States $32 million $62 million [28]
1997 Celine Dion Canada $65 million $123 million [29]
1998 Celine Dion Canada $55.5 million $104 million [30]
1999 Shania Twain Canada $48 million $88 million [31]
2001 Britney Spears United States $38.5 million $66 million [32]
2002 Mariah Carey United States $58 million $98 million [33]
2003 Cher United States $33.1 million $55 million [34]
2004 Celine Dion Canada $28 million[b] $45 million [35]
2005 Madonna United States $50 million $78 million [36]
2006 Celine Dion Canada $40 million $60 million [37]
2007 Madonna United States $72 million $106 million [38]
2008 Beyoncé United States $80 million $113 million [39]
2009 Madonna United States $110 million $156 million [40]
2010 Beyoncé United States $87 million $122 million [41]
2011 Lady Gaga United States $90 million $122 million [42]
2012 Britney Spears United States $58 million $77 million [43]
2013 Madonna * United States $125 million $164 million [44]
2014 Beyoncé United States $115 million $148 million [45]
2015 Katy Perry United States $135 million $174 million [46]
2016 Taylor Swift * United States $170 million $216 million [3]
2017 Beyoncé United States $105 million $131 million [47]
2018 Katy Perry United States $83 million $101 million [48]
2019 Taylor Swift * United States $185 million $220 million [4]
2020 Ariana Grande United States $72 million $85 million [49]
2021 Taylor Swift United States $52 million $58 million [7]
2022 Taylor Swift United States $92 million $96 million [50]

Highest-paid musicians by decade[edit]

2010s[edit]

Dr. Dre became the highest-paid musician of the 2010s decade.
Top 10 highest-paid musicians of the 2010s decade[57]
Rank Musician Nationality Earnings Adjusted earnings
(in 2023 dollar)
1 Dr. Dre United States $950 million $1,132 million
2 Taylor Swift United States $825 million $983 million
3 Beyoncé United States $685 million $816 million
4 U2 Ireland $675 million $804 million
5 Diddy United States $605 million $721 million
6 Elton John United Kingdom $565 million $673 million
7 Jay-Z United States $560 million $667 million
8 Paul McCartney United Kingdom $535 million $638 million
9 Katy Perry United States $530 million $632 million
10 Lady Gaga United States $500 million $596 million

See also[edit]

  • Forbes Top 40 – list of highest-paid celebrities (1987–1998)
  • Forbes Celebrity 100 – list of most powerful celebrities (1999–2014) and highest-paid celebrities (2015–2020)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Male soloists were largely absent in 1999. Lou Bega was only ranked 76th on the overall celebrity earnings list.[51]
  2. ^ Although Forbes listed Celine Dion and Cher each with rounded earnings of $28 million in 2004, the former was ranked higher than the latter.[55][56]

References[edit]

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Print sources[edit]