Top-earning artists of the decade revealed

Closing in on the final days of the decade, Forbes has released a list of the top-earning artists in the world during the 2010s. A whirlwind of musical evolution and inane levels of exponential growth from both financial and marketing standpoints, the decade has seen electronic music grow into a huge genre & subculture. However, has it done enough to send a representative into the top 10 of the top-earning artists of the decade?

The slow but steady implementation of music streaming services and the digital world saw the industry’s global revenue drop to its lowest since in a while, when 2014 recorded $14.2 billion. Nonetheless, this didn’t stop artists such as Dr Dre and Elton John earning a whopping $950 million and $565 million respectively. Despite these staggering numbers, the list below only accounts for living artists. Forbes went on to state;

“[…] if postmortem earnings were counted, Michael Jackson would be No. 1. His staggering $2.37 billion total for the decade by our count is higher than his estate’s recently filed estimate of $1.7 billion because we counted reinvested royalties from his half of the Sony/ATV publishing catalog (his estate sold the asset for $750 million in 2016). He easily tops his living peers by either measure.”

It’s no secret that the electronic music scene wasn’t always as large as it is today. Throughout the early 2010s, Rock, Pop, Alternative and R&B dominated the North American market. In fact, in the first 5 years of the decade, electronic music was nowhere near the top 5 in album sales in the United States. Furthermore, Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’ album was recently named the best-selling electronic album on vinyl of the decade, on top of 3.2 million total copies worldwide (as of 2014), yet still wasn’t enough to top Pop & Hip-Hop albums such as Adele‘s ’21’ and Eminem‘s ‘The Eminem Show’, which have sold 32 million and 27 million copies to date, respectively. Even still, in 2018, EDM placed 7th in album sales in the U.S, indicating just how truly small EDM’s slice of the global music pie, truly is.

See the full list below.

1. Dr. Dre $950 million
2. Taylor Swift $825 million
3. Beyoncé $685 million
4. U2 $675 million
5. Diddy $605 million
6. Elton John $565 million
7. JAY-Z $560 million
8. Paul McCartney $535 million
9. Katy Perry $530 million
10. Lady Gaga $500 million

Melbourne-based Journalist, producer and DJ. Completed a Diploma of Audio Production at SAE Institute and loves everything from Jazz to Disco. Have a question? Don't hesitate to drop me a line!

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