Dr. Dre

All this talk about how musicians aren’t making any money? It’s nonsense! Oh sure, your Grizzly Bears and David Lowerys may be barely scraping by, but that doesn’t mean everyone has had to sell off the place in the Hamptons just because of Spotify’s crummy royalty rates. Today, Forbes published their list of 2012′s highest-paid musicians, and based on these numbers, being a rock star is still a more lucrative gig than being a blogger. Dr. Dre claimed the top spot because he finally dropped Detox and the thing went diamond he sold off his shares of headphones brand Beats By Dre for a cool hundred mil. After that, perennial titans of industry Roger Waters, Elton John, and U2 grabbed slots 2 – 4, respectively. Any surprises on here? Maybe Take That at 5? Foo Fighters at 14? Sade at 25? Cattle Decapitation nowhere to be found? (Guessing they were at 26.) Anyway, here’s the list; class warfare kicks off in the comments.

01 Dr. Dre – $110 million
02 Roger Waters – $88 million
03 Elton John – $80 million
04 U2 – $78 million
05 Take That – $69 million
06 Bon Jovi – $60 million
07 Britney Spears – $58 million
08 Paul McCartney – $57 million (tie)
08 Taylor Swift – $57 million (tie)
10 Justin Bieber – $55 million (tie)
10 Toby Keith – $55 million (tie)
12 Rihanna – $53 million
13 Lady GaGa – $52 million
14 Foo Fighters – $47 million
15 Diddy – $45 million (tie)
15 Katy Perry – $45 million (tie)
17 Kenny Chesney – $44 million
18 Beyoncé – $40 million
19 Red Hot Chili Peppers – $39 million
20 Jay-Z – $38 million
21 Coldplay – $37 million
22 Adele – $35 million (tie)
22 Kanye West – $35 million (tie)
24 Michael Bublé – $34 million
25 Sade – $33 million

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Comments (59)
  1. This list is BS, no Fiona Apple?!?

  2. so, if Roger Waters released a line of terrible headphones he would be number one?

  3. “Anyway, here’s the list; class warfare kicks off in the comments.”

  4. Forbes cited Dr. Dre’s lyric in “Compton” as their source for this figure.

  5. Take That? What?

    • They’ve been pretty huge in the UK again for a while now. Gary Barlow’s a judge on the X Factor.

    • Yeah, but it was explained in the bigger article that something like $61 million of that came from just ONE RUN of shows at Wembley Stadium. They sold out some ridiculous number of nights at that behemoth. Six or nine or something. A LOT of people bought tickets, anyway.

    • (Before Googling) Who the hell is Take That?

  6. I would’ve had ‘channel ORANGE’ at number 1.

  7. Pretty good list.

  8. “The 25 Highest Paid Musicians of 2012″ or as I call it “The 25 Most Heavily Marketed Musicians”

  9. Toby Keith? That’s a lot of hillbillies selling a lot of plasma.

  10. Oh and why is Courtney Love not up there (assuming that she meets the criteria of the title ‘musician’)? Does she not get that Kurt/Nirvana money anymore? Or did I miss out on some litigated shit-show that took those rights away from her?

    • Damn son, I wasn’t supporting her reaping of Kurt’s posthumous revenue…just surprised she wasn’t on the list for that reason

      • I didn’t down vote you, but I think you’re greatly over estimating the amount of money “Nirvana” is making these days. Foo Fighters had a HUGELY successful album and tour and look where they ranked. Plus, Courtney doesn’t get all that money. The whatever-they-called-it LLC gets it and divides it amongst all involved parties.

  11. Just imagine Kanye’s reaction looking at this list.

  12. These are really their one-year earnings and not total net worth? Insane.

  13. hm beyonce is the bread winner

  14. RHCP way too low, other than that solid

  15. Sooo Paul McCartney made as much money as Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber? Yeah, that makes a whole lot of fucking sense.

    Also- I’ll bet the yacht that Diddy did not make that kind of money this year…hocking shitty liquor and creating more shitty reality band shows for MTV can’t be that lucrative. Oh wait, yes it can.

  16. all of these pretty much make sense.

    wait a second….Sade?

    • Sade plays arenas, their(her?) tour must have gone well

      • Their for sure. It’s the same band she’s had forever. Like, twenty years or something. And yes, their tour was very successful. It was a beautiful show, too. A little chill for the size of the arena, but very beautiful.

  17. Where’s Madonna? Sure MDNA flopped (and I’m NO fan of the album) but given the bulk of these artists get the revenue from touring (see Roger Waters and The Wall tour at #2) a single Madonna show grosses more than pretty much any other act out there. She’s also been on tour for the majority of the year. Am I missing some technicality or something obvious here?

    • Well, MDNA was also kinda her main marketing push for that tour, and I’d be surprised it didn’t convince more people *not* to go to her shows than to go to them.

  18. Where’s LFO?

  19. #201. Jimmy Cage

  20. Seriously folks, there’s still a month left!!! Any one of these people could have a sudden December boost. How can this list possibly be considered in anyway accurate?

  21. I wouldn’t be worried about releasing an album if I was making that much money, either. Dude should just call it a day, produce other people are swim around in his Beats money Scrooge McDuck style.

  22. I want to see cage matches to the death for all the ties. 4 match-ups made in heaven.
    I’d love the see the Vegas odds.

  23. Crazy thing about that U2 number, they made more last year AND the year before that.

  24. man…alotta idiots buying those over-priced headphones EH? haha, pitiful. oh well, at least they AIN’T “P-Diddy Tribute-to-Biggy Phones”

    • First of all, honestly, they aren’t terrible headphones. Research proves this. Are they overpriced? Yes. But so are all other high end/luxury headphones.

      Also, he didn’t make that money from sales. An outside company bought a huge portion of Beats for $300 million and Dre’s share was 1/3. Evidently they three original beats people (Dre, Jimmy Iovine and somebody else, I imagine) then bought part of the company back.

      • I bought a pair of Beats by Dre about three years ago, I think they were $300. I went home and read a bunch of consumer reviews and found that the Bose $300 headphones were considered to be better and I considered going back to Best Buy to make an exchange but I decided to keep the Beats b/c the packaging was so cool. Now I have a really cool headphone box that hasn’t left my closet in three years. I gotta say though, they sound awesome. They are probably overpriced but no way are they crappy.

  25. “But hon, I only read Stereogum for the articles.”

    “Knock it, Jimmy! I know you just go there to play with those no good, good-for-nothin, rabies-infested commenters!”

  26. was expecting more from Justin Bieber

  27. Had to Google Toby Keith. Never heard of him in the UK.

    • Lucky you!

      I, on the other hand, had to Google Take That. Didn’t recognize a single one of their singles (at least by name), the only thing I knew was that guy Robbie Williams who had a couple minor solo hits here in the states.

  28. Funny how the ones on top are the ones that are always complaining about how illegal downloads are ruining their finances (like Elton John or U2).

  29. So 25 people made 1.34 billion dollars between them, and most of them constantly ask those of us making 55k a year to donate to charities and stuff. Because they need all that money to swim around in Ducktales-style.

  30. I’m surprised Madonna’s not on the list. Isn’t she like, on the list every year?
    Did MDNA flop that hard?

    I read an article a while ago about how Dido made so much money in her heyday that she didn’t feel the need to make any more albums or something like that. I wish Justin Bieber would take a page from her book.

    PS Good for Sade!

  31. 60 mil. for Bon Jovi? Man, middle-aged females came out in force this year.

  32. 1-OKC
    2-MBDTF
    3-NWA
    4-JZ
    5-ZZTOP

  33. Did I miss a Sade release or did someone just give her 33 mil for her awesomeness…..(she deserves it)

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