July 20, 2018 / 6:07 PM

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The 7 Highest Music Incomes of The Last 5 Years; Dr. Dre, One Direction and More



Forbes released its annual Celebrity 100 list this week, a feature that ranks celebrities of all stripes—music, film, sports—by how socially active they are and how much they bring in. Although a number of factors add up to the final ranking, we all know that net worth is the most interesting aspect of the chart. This year's musical champ was Katy Perry, who brought in $135 million over the last 12 months, trailing only boxers Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao overall. Music Times is looking back over the last five years and finding out what seven musicians had the biggest paydays during that span.

From "smallest" to biggest yearly income:

07) Beyoncé (2014): $115 million

The aspect with the highest impact on a musician's earnings (usually) is their touring numbers. But it takes more than that to break $100 million in one 12-month period. Just ask Beyoncé: She was the second highest-earning musician on 2014's Celebrity 100, thanks in part to her epic "On The Run Tour" with Jay Z. Yet somehow her hubby only brought in $60 million during the year, leading us to believe that Bey must have been doing something else on the side. Although she certainly outsold Jay in terms of records during that span (nothing outsold Beyoncé during those 12 months), her advertising deals with major players such as Pepsi and H&M were the deciding factor in her $115 million year.

06) Bon Jovi (2011): $125 million

Despite what we just said, Bon Jovi seems to suggest that generating a huge paycheck is almost entirely based on touring. The band was the second-highest earner during 2011, but there's little to explain what else besides its legendary road-dog attitude contributed to that amount. The band put out a greatest hits collection...but that wasn't a sales juggernaut. Forbes also points out that Jon Bon Jovi himself was name to the White House Council for Community Solutions. We don't imagine that came with a paycheck however.

05) Madonna (2013): $125 million

Madonna's reigning relevance is almost unparalleled in the music world. Although every female pop star that comes along is eventually compared to her—from Lady Gaga to Britney Spears—none managed to surpass her earnings in the last five years until Perry came along this year. Once again, touring was a major factor in her healthy paycheck, but you can't pretend that 2012's album MDNA didn't have an impact. Although it was largely panned compared to other releases from the performer, it's still managed to go double-platinum to date. Expect 2015's Rebel Heart to ultimately have a similar impact during the 2016 Celebrity 100.

04) One Direction (2015): $130 million

One Direction was another group that benefitted greatly from an expansive live schedule, playing 74 shows over the last 12 months. Forbes writer Zach O'Malley Greenburg points out something that's shifted in the concert industry, allowing acts such as One Direction to double the concert earnings of the Rolling Stones. More concerts in smaller locations allow groups to ultimately charge less for tickets, a must considering the relatively low age of the average Directioner. This, he argues, is thanks to the rebounding middle class in the United States, and the relatively new birth of a middle class in nations abroad. Direction can't feel too bad about the huge haul either way, especially now that they have one less member to share it amongst.

03) Katy Perry (2015): $135 million

Perry's massive success comes from touring, in a variety of ways. The first thing's first: Where you tour makes a big difference in how much you take away from it, according to Forbes. Perry played 124 shows in the last year, with 75 of them taking place outside of the United States. Fans overseas know that performances from American artists are going to be more rare than they would be in the star's homeland, and show up in force when given the chance. Interestingly, more than 60 percent of Perry's income comes from foreign markets. Perry also has a particular talent for pitching merchandise to her fans, as the average attendee at her concerts spends $20 on merchandise...more than four-times the average arena performer. Multiply that by perhaps 15,000 fans-per-show...and you're gold.

02) U2 (2011): $195 million

Now you understand why U2 was especially bothered by Bono's bicycle accident last year, which caused a huge cancellation of dates. And why all of their hearts skipped a beat when The Edge fell from the stage on the first night that the band got back on the road. Because U2 is simply a touring juggernaut. That period, during 2011, was a huge touring year (as Bon Jovi also secured $100 million-plus on the road). You have to look at the two-year span where U2 was touring in support of No Line On The Horizon to understand just how massive the tour was. The $195 million number is just the sheer profit from the tour that the band split amongst themselves...the tour as a whole sold more than $700 million worth of tickets.

01) Dr. Dre (2014): $620 million

Remember how Dr. Dre claimed to be the first billionaire in the history of hip-hop? Well, he wasn't. He ONLY made $620 million from selling Beats Electronics to Apple. So, as we alluded to earlier, not every performer on this list got here by selling concert tickets. But that's a far more likely option than by selling off a successful electronics company. What's interesting is that this wasn't the first time Beats paid off big for Dre. In fact, he also had the no. 8 highest ncome of the last five years among musicians with his 2012 haul. That came when he sold 51 percent of his hold on beats to XTC, which brought in $110 million. We probably would have retired at that point. But he figured why not go for an even bigger fish. Kudos.

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