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There are quite a few musicians who made a ton of money in 2021, despite the pandemic crushing much of the live event and concert industry. Some of that money came the old-fashioned way with new music — bravo, Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton and Kanye West — while older artists are raking in the dough by selling off their song catalog for beyond lucrative prices.
Rolling Stone ranked the stars and yes, it’s a bummer to see only one woman on the list, but we do love that Swift’s revenge strategy is paying off handsomely. Hopefully, there will be more female artists represented in 2022 as the concert industry revives itself in a post-pandemic world (if COVID will just make a speedy exit). But don’t expect the trend of performers selling their entire music portfolio to end any time soon. Josh Gruss, founder and CEO of Round Hill Music, told the music publication, “These are almost like pieces of art — there’s a finite number of real, super-high-quality hit songs from the past — and there’s this sort of all-out grab to own those rights. It’s a very steady stream of revenue that’s there, and that makes it very attractive for investment.”
Take a closer look at who made this list — we think at least one band’s inclusion might surprise you. As for the No. 1 performer, his inclusion doesn’t seem shocking at all because he has the perfect nickname for his top spot.
2021 Earnings: $80 million
While Taylor Swift is the only woman in the Top 10 to make this list for 2021, she sure is proving Scooter Braun that she’s a forced to be reckoned with. After her catalog was sold to the music mogul, Swift got the last word by re-recording Red (Taylor’s Version) and Fearless (Taylor’s Version) in 2021.
2021 Earnings: $83 million
Blake Shelton is representing the country music industry in the Top 10. He had great success in 2021, thanks to his new Body Language album and tour.
2021 Earnings: $95 million
Motley Crüe didn’t generate any new music in 2021, they are just savvy and sitting on a very healthy music library of their original songs (which they just sold for a reported $90 million to BMG.)
2021 Earnings: $100 million
The Fleetwood Mac legend sold his hefty song catalog to Hipgnosis for $100 million.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
2021 Earnings: $145 million
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are another band who raked in the dough by selling their lot of songs for $140 million. They are reportedly working on new music in 2022.
2021 Earnings: $200 million
As a songwriter and as the lead singer of OneRepublic, Ryan Tedder has earned a tidy sum in 2021. After selling half of his music library in 2017, he sold the other half for almost $200 million to KKR. Tedder also released his fifth album, Human, with OneRepublic.
2021 Earnings: $250 million
Besides being a busy entrepreneur, Kanye West released a very successful solo album, Donda, in 2021.
2021 Earnings: $260 million
The veteran singer and songwriter made a tidy sum from selling the rights to his solo works and a few from the Simon and Garfunkel’s catalog.
2021 Earnings: $470 million
Jay-Z didn’t release any new music in 2021, but he went on a selling spree with Tidal and Armand de Brignac champagne.
2021 Earnings: $590 million
The Boss proved that he’s also the tops when it comes to earning power in 2021. He sold his catalog, performed on Broadway and produced projects with former President Barack Obama.
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