Who Have Made the Most Money in Music?

The world of music is, if you get to the top, also the world of big money. And those who have completed a music business degree hope to get to that top position. A position in which they don’t have to worry about their bank balance ever again. So who are some of the biggest earners out there?

Sir Paul McCartney

Sir Paul McCartney is perhaps best known for being a member of The Beatles. He is believed to be worth around $600 million. A lot of this comes from his performances, but he also earned a ton of money through royalties, song writing, and record sales. Plus, he allegedly owns the copyright of approximately 3,000 songs, which means he gets paid every time they get played. Plus, he owns a variety of musical publishing rights, including Grease, A Chorus Line, and Guys and Dolls.


Then, there is Jay-Z, who was featured on the cover of Forbes magazine, side by side with Warren Buffett. This shows how much of an entrepreneur and businessman the former rapper actually is. It is believed that he is worth around $500 million. In 2008, he sparked controversy by being the headline at the Glastonbury festival. Forbes, meanwhile, says he is the next billionaire, having interests in Roc-A-Fella Records, and New Jersey Nets. Plus, he has signed Willow Smith, Will Smith’s daughter, after hearing her sing just one track. It also helps that he is Beyonce Knowles’ husband, who is worth around $90 million herself, from endorsements and performances.

Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell is perhaps best known for his reality TV shows such as Idols, American Idol, and the X Factor. He is also a music producer, who first became involved in the industry when his father, Eric Philip Cowell, managed to get him a job in the mail room of EMI Music Publishing, where Cowell Sr. was an executive. He rose to fame very quickly, signing bands like Westlife and Five. Famously, he turned down The Spice Girls and Gary Barlow! Today, just from judging American Idol and the X Factor, he earns around $30 million per year.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga was worth approximately $40 million aged just 24. She is a fashion and music icon who shot to fame in 2009, selling some 15 million albums and 50 million singles the world over. Madonna and David Bowie are her two great influences. Time magazine named her in the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.

George Michael

The late George Michael, former Wham! star, has lived a life of controversy. He has been in and out of rehab, was charged with indecent exposure, and more. He is also one of the most influential people in music of all time. In 1985, Wham! became the first western band to ever tour China.

Not everybody in the music industry who wants to earn millions has to be a performing artist. The world of music is changing, and technology is playing an increasingly big role. Furthermore, a lot of money is to be made out of endorsements. All of these options are opportunities for those with a mind for business in music.

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